On Wednesday, August 7, 2019, Dr. Eugene T. Murphy, Jr., loving partner, father, and grandfather, passed away peacefully at the age of 65. He was in his home with his family. Diagnosed with cancer in 2014, he was optimistic and brave throughout his illness. Gene, known to his family as “Bud,” was born on April 27, 1954 in New Milford, NJ to Eugene and Irene Murphy. He married Lea Cloud in 2015 and they lived very happily in Hoboken, NJ.
Gene received his undergraduate degree from Harvard University and his doctorate in Anthropology from Columbia University, doing his field work in China on kinship networks. He was a lifelong educator and student of the world and its people. In early adulthood he taught from pre-K to professional and ESL studies; he worked as a community organizer, shrimp boat cook, tugboat deckhand, writer, labor advocate, bricklayer, lifeguard, steelworker, field researcher in China, Nicaragua, Mexico, Cuba, and Puerto Rico, and many things in between. His career in academia began as a professor of Anthropology. His professional calling crystallized during his time as an administrator of the burgeoning global program at New York University, a position that wove his years in the field and in the classroom with his skills as an organizer and manager. His leadership at NYU allowed for countless others to cultivate and nurture meaningful experiences in the global world. He made friendships across the continents. Most recently he served as Associate Vice President for International and Global Affairs at Rutgers University.
The things Gene truly loved were wide-ranging and deep, underpinned by an insatiable curiosity about the world. He spent time appreciating languages and cultural study, cooking risotto and paella, triumphantly completing crossword puzzles with Lea, and making all matters of things with his hands and with his words. He was quietly stubborn, thoroughly invested in efficiency, and had a steel trap memory for names, history, and family stories. Gene believed that the essence of being a man in the world was to use his mind and body to their fullest potential; this was a lesson from his father. His parents also taught him kindness, patience, and generosity and he shared these gifts freely and often with all he touched. Once he embraced something, he did it completely. Fascination with the world and its people infused everything from his professional pursuits to his travel itineraries and reading lists. He balanced his spirit as a wanderer by grounding himself to the earth through outdoor adventures sailing, hiking, and rafting down the Colorado River. He was a master storyteller; his toasts and tributes were deeply crafted with meaning and light with wit. He recently told his daughter that as a parent he was a custodian of his children’s grace and joy; this is the perspective that shaped his time with his family. In his words, becoming Grandpa to Rio in 2017 deepened his understanding of being a human in the universe. Gene loved books, and reading to his young children and to Rio brought him great joy. Children’s author Maurice Sendak captured Gene’s spirit when he wrote: “I am in love with the world.”
Gene was preceded in death by his parents. He is survived by his wife Lea, his daughter Anais (Ryan Cuppernull) and his grandson Rio, his son Eamon, and his daughter Maya. He is also survived by his four sisters; Jane (Bob) Burch, Maryann (Steve) Back, Irene (Mark) Ratliff, Kathy; his brother John (Nancy), and four nieces and six nephews. His family loved him dearly and grew in his warmth.
Visitation for Gene will be on Thursday, August 8, 2019 from 4:00 – 8:00 PM at Lawton-Turso Funeral Home in Hoboken (corner of Washington and Seventh Streets, parking on Seventh). A Funeral Mass will be celebrated on Friday, August 9, 2019 at 11:00 AM at St. Ann’s Church in Hoboken (corner of Seventh and Jefferson Streets). In lieu of flowers, please make donations in Gene’s memory to Planned Parenthood, the New Sanctuary Coalition, or the Environmental Defense Fund.