Lynn Murphy


Lynn Murphy died last Thursday, Jan. 12, in his own bedroom at his home in Chilmark. He was 88.

Lynn was born on Mount Desert Island in Maine, the sixth of seven boys, the eighth of nine children. He learned to walk on his father’s sardine carrier. His father, Ernest Albion Murphy, died when Lynn was 6 and his baby brother Gordon was 2. His mother, Helen Lawson Murphy, moved the three youngest children to Fairhaven when Lynn was about 12, in order to be closer to some of Lynn’s older brothers who captained some of the big yachts that were serviced in the shipyards nearby.

Lynn lied about his age in order to join the Navy, which is why his service record falls under the World War II umbrella. He served on board the aircraft carrier Randolph (CV-15) as store keeper.

In the summer of 1948 he came to Menemsha on a fishing boat with his older brother Ernest. Menemsha reminded him of his home in Maine. At a midnight dance at the tavern in Chilmark he met Valerie Norton, and after a brief courtship they married in January of 1949. Together they had seven children.

Internationally, he will be remembered for the work he did on the movie “Jaws.” Locally, there must be dozens, if not hundreds of stories about Lynn, gleaned from almost 70 years of living a very rich, action-packed life on the Vineyard. Knowing the Vineyard’s propensity for “not letting the facts get in the way of a good story,” some of those stories may actually be true.

Lynn is survived by his second wife of over 40 years, Susan (Bainbridge), and their two sons, Lynn C. Murphy II of Chilmark, who shared caregiving duties with his mother for the past seven years; and Lucas Lawson Murphy and his wife Patricia (Kessler) Murphy, of North Easton, and the four surviving children of his first marriage: Dana Leonard Murphy of Edgewater, Fla.; Wanda Elizabeth and her husband Bert Irion of Wellsboro, Pa.; Sherry Lynn and her husband Carl Flanders of Menemsha; and Brian Ernest and his wife JoAnn (Kinnecom) Murphy of Vineyard Haven. Lynn had 10 grandchildren and two great-grandchildren. Lynn was predeceased by an infant daughter and his beloved boys, Jay and Lee.

If so inclined, please remember Lynn with a gift to the Martha’s Vineyard Center for Living, P.O. Box 1729, Vineyard Haven, MA 02568, a truly remarkable organization whose Supportive Day Program enabled Lynn to live a very full life right to the end.