Cover photo for John Murphy's Obituary
John Murphy Profile Photo
1931 John 2023

John Murphy

April 24, 1931 — April 11, 2023

Our beloved brother, father, grandfather, John Payne Murphy, passed away at home with family and caregivers by his side in Denver, Colorado, on Tuesday, April 11, at the age of 91.  John was born in Chattanooga, Tennessee, on April 24, 1931.  He showed an adventurous spirit from the start.  He loved the outdoors, joined the Boy Scouts in the Tennessee Smoky Mountains and eventually, became an eagle scout and troop leader as a young man.  When aqualungs became commercially available he was one of the first to dive into the deepest Tennessee lakes and the pools in Tuckaleechee Cavern, discovering cavern rooms with his friends.

John graduated with a bachelor of science degree in electrical engineering and a USAF Commission at the University of Tennessee in 1954.  He served as an Air Force officer, stationed at a radar station in Cape Romanzof, Alaska.  John married Patricia Miller in 1959, and they moved to California to start their family and fulfill John’s dream to launch a career in rockets, working for Martin Marietta (now Lockheed Martin).

John and his wife, Tricia, made their home in Santa Maria, California, near the launch facility at Vandenberg Air Force Base for 25 years as John’s career took off and the children grew up.  In the 1980s John managed the Peacekeeper program for Martin Marietta which helped end the cold war through the “Peace through Strength” initiative.   John and Tricia loved their friends and community.  John made many contributions including serving on the board of directors of the Santa Barbara County United Way, where he earned the Gold Award for Community Service.

In 1985 John and Tricia moved to Denver as John managed larger programs, culminating in the Titan IV program as VP of Martin Marietta.  This rocket was the most capable and last of the Titan launch vehicles.  Over the years Titan rockets launched many important satellite missions, including national defense and intelligence assets, the Viking missions to Mars, the Cassini mission to Saturn, and the Voyager missions to the outer planets and beyond.  John retired from Lockheed Martin in 1994 after 34 years with the company, but continued to consult with them on various launches through the remainder of the decade.

John was a member of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics, the Air Force Association, and past National Director of Program Management for the National Contracts Management Association (NCMA).  He was recognized numerous times for outstanding performance over his lifetime. He was a five-time recipient of the Martin Marietta Gold Medallion award, received the Denver Performance Award three times, was awarded Manager of the Year, and received the Corporation's Jefferson Cup. The Silver Knight of Management Award was presented to John by the National Management Association for outstanding achievement as a Professional Manager.  He served as a member of the Governor’s Commission on Colorado State Government Productivity.

John and Tricia applied their sense of adventure to retirement, sailing their sailboat, Tehemana, through the Bahamas.  They also volunteered with the Rainforest Health project, bringing health care to remote tribes in the Peruvian rainforest.  John and Tricia enjoyed many adventures traveling the world solo, with family, and with friends.  They enjoyed frequent visits with their children and grandchildren for holidays, reunions, and other family get-togethers.

Tricia went home to her savior Jesus in 2003.  The last 20 years found John traveling between his houses in Denver and Key Largo, and traveling to visit family in Knoxville, the San Juan Islands, Gilroy, Tahoe, Italy, and France.  While in France, John researched and documented where his Uncle Riley fought and died near Lille, France, as a soldier in the US Army in WWI.

In his final years, John wrote two autobiographies with the help of his assistant and friend, Sharon Leiter.  John is predeceased by his parents Sam McCarty and Clairice Murphy, by his brother, Sam Murphy, Jr., his nephew,   Sam McCarty Murphy III, and his beloved wife, Patricia Murphy.  John is survived by his much loved Tennessee relatives: sister, Mary Jane Lewis, brother-in-law, Jack Lewis, sister-in-law, Peggy Murphy, nephew, Mick Murphy, and by his beloved children, Claire & Michel (son in law), Kathy & Jeff (son in law), and Jon & Jan (daughter in law), and grandchildren, Stephanie, Joshua, and Connor.

John will be dearly missed.  Please join us Tuesday, July 18, 2023, at  9:45 a.m. for a Celebration of John’s Life at Horan & McConaty Funeral Service & Cremation, 3101 S. Wadsworth, Blvd., Lakewood, CO 80227, followed by Military Honors at Fort Logan. For those unable to attend in person, live-stream link is below but also at: John Payne Murphy – BXcited .

In Lieu of flowers, the family prefers donations to be made to one of John Murphy’s favorite charities: United Way Worldwide (  ), Feed America First of Tennessee (  ), National Jewish Health (  ) and American Red Cross (  ).

Please share memories of John and condolences with his family by signing the Tribute Wall above.

John Payne Murphy A Life of Adventure The Photo Album 90th Birthday.pdf
John Payne Murphy A Life of Adventure.pdf
John Payne Murphy The Adventure Continues.pdf

Service Schedule

Past Services

Memorial Service

Tuesday, July 18, 2023

Starts at 9:45 am (Mountain (no DST) time)

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Committal Ceremony

Tuesday, July 18, 2023

11:15 - 11:45 am (Mountain (no DST) time)

Fort Logan National Cemetery

3698 S Sheridan Blvd, Denver, CO 80236

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