Chilkat Valley News - Serving Haines and Klukwan, Alaska since 1966


Murphy operated equipment, led Legion post


Pat Murphy

Pat Murphy, an equipment operator from Oregon who came to Haines to work at the Chilkoot Lumber mill, then stayed, died Wednesday of cancer in Oakland, Ore. He was 67.

A memorial service will be held 2 p.m. Saturday at the American Legion Hall, with a dinner to follow.

Bill Murphy, Pat’s identical twin, said his older brother operated a crane cleaning debris after the Mount Saint Helen’s eruption, hauled hay across Oregon, and put in septic systems, but mostly worked for logging outfits before arriving here in 1990.

Patrick Lester Murphy was born to Delmar and Genevieve Murphy in Cottage Grove, Ore. on June 20, 1945, 15 minutes before his twin brother. The two grew up on a 100-acre farm where the family raised feed grain and walnut trees.

Besides chores like feeding chickens and milking cows, the boys worked on larger, neighboring farms, Bill Murphy said.

When Pat went to work loading logs for a logging outfit after high school, supervisors were surprised at how adept he was operating equipment, his brother said.

Besides learning to operate tractors, trucks and heavy equipment on the farm, the boys had helped themselves to the controls of logging equipment after crews went home for the day. “We played with all their shovels when nobody was around,” Bill Murphy said.

Their antics included playing “chicken” on farm tractors and they once harvested a deer with a two-by-four after it stood frozen in the headlights of their car. “People knew about the ornery twins. There was never a dull moment. We always had fun.”

They made mischief with their looks. “We had a lot of fun in high school. We traded classes. We traded girlfriends. Nobody knew the difference. There were few people who could have told us apart.”

Bill Murphy said when his brother was drafted in the Army, he tried to enlist but was turned back for severe hearing loss. Pat Murphy served as a helicopter gunman and crew chief in the 101st Airborne Division in Vietnam.

After working as a crane operator at the local sawmill, Murphy hired on as an operator with Southeast Roadbuilders. He retired five years ago.

An active member of the American Legion, Murphy served five terms as commander of the local post and also was named Southeast District Commander, said Terry Pardee, service officer for the Lynn Canal Post.

“Pat was instrumental in moving the club ahead. He was a heck of a hard worker and he had foresight. He helped the club through some up and down times,” Pardee said. “He could be as tough as a nail when he needed to be. But he was a very compassionate man.”

Murphy and Barbara Chambers of Haines were married in Skagway in 1995. After Murphy retired, the couple enjoyed visiting a family cabin in Champagne, Y.T. and making trips. Murphy would check out equipment working on road projects, Barbara said. “He’d take a look at it. I think he missed it.”

“He was a wonderful stepfather, grandfather and husband for the 21 years that we were together,” she said.

Bill Murphy said his first trip in a jet airplane came a year ago, to visit his brother in an Anchorage hospital. “I’d have loved to have spent more time with him in the last 25 years.”

Murphy is survived by brother Bill Murphy and sister Peggy Clark, both of Umpqua; by sons James Patrick Murphy of Montana and Jonathan Reed Murphy of Sutherlin, Ore .; by daughter Shannon Grauf of Sutherlin; by wife Barbara Chambers Murphy of Haines; by stepchildren Cherryl, Maria and Wayne Chambers, all of Haines; and by seven grandchildren.