William “Bill” E. Murphy

1912 – 2005

A man who loved life and loved people, Bill was born in Seattle on December 4, 1912 to Elmer W. and Elizabeth Kerr Murphy. He joined two sisters: Edna Murphy Martin and Mabel Murphy Frizzell.

When Bill was in second grade, his family moved to Auburn, WA. His later education included Hill Military School in Portland, Oregon and the University of Washington in Seattle. Returning to Seattle during the Depression, Bill took several odd jobs to support his parents who had recently lost their business.

When Pearl Harbor occurred, Bill joined the Army’s 5th Armored Division, a tank company under the leadership of General Patton. His most memorable time during those years was the six months he spent at Warner BrothersRranch helping make military training maneuver films. After returning from World War II, Bill married Bertha Lavinia Winna Hemingway in Seattle. Their daughter, Sharon, was born two years later.

In 1957 the Murphy family moved to Roche Harbor, where they happily became part of the island community. A year later, they settled in Friday Harbor. Bill was a bookkeeper at Friday Harbor Canning, Co. for a short time, and then purchased San Juan Agricultural, Co. During this time he served on the Friday Harbor city council and became an active Masonic brother in the San Juan Lodge.

In the early 60’s the family built their home in San Juan Valley. Caring for the property, barn and fence building, and riding horses kept Bill active. In the early 70’s, Bill sold his business with plans to retire and travel. Shortly he found himself in the San Juan County courthouse helping out in the Assessor’s office. Bill later became the Assessor.

Although Bill was 400 miles away for the last two years of his life, his heart was always on the island. Upon his death, Bill’s estate placed a conservation easement on the family property along Douglas Road to protect it from a development and maintains its open space and agricultural character. A fond friend, Elizabeth Scott of Friday Harbor, wrote that she “admired his kindness, humor and ethics. He was a gentleman and gentle man.”

From the San Juan Islander, June 2005