Jack Murphy’s Story

Editor’s Note: St. John’s lost our dear friend Jack Murphy on November 16, 2020. This Faces of St. John’s story serves as a touching tribute of his spirit and the impact he made on his friends and family. 

John (Jack) Murphy has lived several lives and is still embracing life at age 92. Jack has the gift of an incredible memory recalling back to age three, when he hopped into an ice wagon. “I simply wanted some of the ice,” Jack says, but his mother soon caught him and that adventure ended in a spanking. At age six Jack took several street cars alone to the YMCA because they offered free swimming lessons and he was resolute on learning. His independence and determination grew to age nine when he rode his bike alone to Genesee Valley Park to train in a life-saving course. All of these steps in Jack’s childhood showed a glimpse into the dedicated and accomplished man he is today.

Jack with one of his aides, Kyvon, enjoying a summer picnic in the courtyard.

Although Jack spent much of his childhood learning, participating in the Boy Scouts, working at Wegmans, and playing football; one of his favorite memories are the dances that were held on Friday nights at his high school. These weekly dances held in the school hall were such enjoyable Jack even visited after he graduated.

Jack graduated at the age of 17 since he had enough credits to graduate early from high school. His next path led him to the Naval Aviation program in the United States Navy. Jack soon found himself traveling from Rochester, NY to New York City for several entrance evaluations. When his time in the service came to an end, he made a switch into semi-pro football. “At the time all of the towns in Rochester had football teams that competed against each other,” explains Jack. He played for several different teams around Monroe County until he took the exam for the Rochester Fire Department. Before he knew it, he joined what was called in his words, “the arson squad.” “At the time departments were divided between the police, FBI, and the fire department, there was not regular communication so we would we all be investigating the same crimes.” Jack explained that he tried to build the camaraderie between departments and opened lines of communication.

“I knew a lot of the higher ups in different departments. Making friends with officials opened a lot of doors for me,” says Murphy. Jack attended several colleges including; Rutgers, Monroe Community College, and the University of Connecticut. After obtaining a degree in fire science he became a Fire Investigator and eventually went on to be the Monroe County Fire Coordinator.

Jack during his fire department days.

This position gave him the ability to create new programming with grant funding. Murphy used his influence and connections to get several grants that improved fire safety across Monroe County with regular drills and exit strategies. His hard work and dedication paid off when in 1974 Jack won ‘Fire Investigator of the Year’ at the second annual celebration.

After a decorated career across many platforms, Jack retired at age 62. This was a dream of his at a young age, so he could travel with his beloved wife. Jack’s favorite travel destination is Ireland. “My wife and I went five times, and even thought of retiring there.” When asked his favorite part of the country, Jack smiled brightly saying, “Why the Irish people of course! They are so friendly, I always tell people Ireland is the safest country to travel to. My wife and I walked all over, made many friends and it does help to have an Irish last name like Murphy,” Jack concludes with a laugh.

Transitioning to St. John’s Home was quite the change for Jack. “I was active my whole life, and after my wife passed many things changed for me.” However, Jack loves participating in the musical programming offered here at St. John’s. Each Friday Jack looks forward to the popular activity, ‘Now We Drum’ which features multiple instruments playing along to popular songs. “The concerts here are enjoyable, there is wide variety and I love all kinds of music. I especially love jazz—I traveled to New Orleans several times to experience jazz first-hand.” Jack makes a point to attend the many concerts offered at St. John’s.

He has also created special bonds with some of his aides. Kyvon in particular has been an important person for Jack and they share a mutual respect for each other.

Jack has truly lived an extraordinary life that many can only imagine. His success and determination launched several inspiring and active careers that have a lasting impact in Monroe County. Jack’s tenacious demeanor led to not only awards and accolades, but a lasting legacy with both his family and career. We are proud to care for residents like Jack who paved the way for younger generations to succeed.