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

Skilled tradesman remembered as hard worker, loving father


October 19, 2017 | View PDF

Mike Murphy worked for Southeast Roadbuilders for 23 years. Roger Schnabel remembered him as a jack-of-all trades and a "master of a helluva lot of them." Tiffany Murphy photo.

For 23 years Mike Murphy (59) worked for Roger Schnabel at Southeast Roadbuilders. "We met in 1980, when he was with M & M Trucking, it was his father's company, and we had an immediate liking to each other. He ended up working for us fulltime," Schnabel said.

Murphy was personable, friendly, hardworking, and capable. He operated heavy equipment, drove trucks, was a mechanic and would work as a laborer if need be. "He was a Jack-of-a-lot-of trades and a master of a helluva a lot of them. He endeared himself to me because of his ability and because he was a good guy," Schnabel said.

For the majority of those working years Murphy was a single dad rearing son Corey and daughter Tiffany, while working out of town on construction projects. "My dad was a workaholic," Tiffany said. "That's all he ever knew. He worked so hard so we could have nice things, and that made him happy."

She regularly visited job sites, and recalled spending a high school summer with him in Kake, where she cooked for him and his roommates.

A few months ago, when Murphy learned the cancer he'd been fighting since 2012 was terminal, Tiffany left her dental clinic job in Juneau to care for him. During his final year of cancer treatments and after losing his voice, he built a "beautiful" home in Palmer. "He was such a fighter and so ambitious," Tiffany said. Murphy died of cancer of the larynx at the Mat-Su Regional Medical Center in Palmer, on October 1.

Michael Murphy was born April 18, 1958 in Roundup, MT to Dan and Donna Mayson. He was later adopted by his mother's second husband, Herb Murphy. He left South Fork High in Miranda, California his senior year to join the Army with a friend. He was stationed in Hawaii for 2 1/2 years and earned his GED in the military. Upon discharge he headed to Alaska to work with his father. Mike and Herb ran trucks between Haines and Deadhorse in the pipeline years. He married Donna Willard of Haines on Feb. 28, 1986. The marriage ended in divorce.

After leaving Southeast Roadbuilders Murphy worked for Kiewit Construction, at Blair Lakes Test Range outside Fairbanks building pads for F-15s, in Nome on a new harbor, and driving the ice roads of the North Slope. In 2004 he shot a big bull moose 30 miles out of Nome on the last day of the season. He enjoyed hunting and fishing and flying remote control airplanes.

In 2008, after his daughter graduated from Haines High and enrolled in the University of Alaska Anchorage, he sold their Haines home and moved to the Mat-Su Valley to be near her. "Tiffany was his shining star. He was very, very proud of her," Roger Schnabel said. Murphy adored his pug, Doobie, who preceded him in death.

He was also proceeded in death by his father, and leaves his mother Donna Rockwell of Clancy, MT; siblings Leta Haisler of Juneau, Denise Murphy-Chambers of Las Cruces, NM, Joel Murphy of Winnemucca, NV, Valerie McArthur of Amarillo TX, Glenda Jackson of Helena, MT, Kirt Mason of Butte, MT, and children Tiffany of Palmer and Corey of Anchorage.

There will be a celebration of Mike Murphy's life in Haines on Oct. 28 at the American Legion. Cards may be sent to Tiffany Murphy at PO Box 3563 Palmer, AK 99645.


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