Bethany legend Murphy dies

Bethany Beach has lost one of its most well-known residents.
Mary Louise Murphy died Friday, Nov. 11, at Fairfax Nursing Center in Fairfax, Va., at the age of 93.

Murphy was best known as the author of the “Beach Brume” social column in The Wave newspaper, starting in 1987 — the paper’s inaugural year. She was also an early member of the Bethany-Fenwick Area Chamber of Commerce and volunteered regularly for that organization’s events.

Her service to the Chamber was honored in 2002 with the Lighthouse Award. Chamber officials noted that the award is its most prestigious honor and aims to honor an individual who not only had been active in the Chamber but also in the community as a whole.

Murphy certainly fit the bill, working not only with the Chamber but with the Bethany Beach Women’s Civic Association, Beebe Medical Center, the Bethany Beach Volunteer Fire Company Auxiliary, South Coastal Library, the St. Ann’s Sodality, AARP and the Leisure Center building committee.

She was also named the grand marshal of the 1986 Bethany Beach Fourth of July parade, worked at the town’s voter polls and served as a docent with the Bethany Museum.

Murphy arrived in Bethany Beach in 1949, coming from the Boston, Mass., area, where her father was a fire chief. She became a property owner in the town in 1960 and moved there permanently in the early 1980s.

She was the wife of the late John H. “Murph” Murphy Jr. The two had five children: Paula M. Gallagher of Bethany Beach; Barbara M. Piontkowski of McLean, Va., and Bethany Beach; Lynda M. Connolly of Boston, Mass., and Falmouth, Maine; John F. Murphy of Oak Hill, Va., and Bethany Beach; and Mary Esther Woehlk of Tampa, Fla., and Bethany Beach.

Murphy also had 16 grandchildren and eight great-grandchildren.

Susan Lyons, former general manager of The Wave and current publisher of The Coastal Point, said of Murphy this week, “Mary was a wonderful lady who was extremely involved in the community. If there was a meeting or event in the Bethany area, Mary would be there.”

“She has always been involved with many things, has always been very outspoken, which everyone respects. She is such a great lady, one of my favorite people,” Lyons added. “She was one of my favorite of the ‘grand dames’ of the area.”

“Mary was the conscience of Bethany Beach for a number of years,” said Coastal Point Editor Darin McCann, who also worked with Murphy while he was editor of The Wave. “She enjoyed the people of the town and threw herself into improving her community on a daily basis. We’re all worse off without her, but better for having known her. She was truly one of the good ones.”

A viewing for Murphy was to be held on Wednesday, Nov. 16, at Murphy Funeral Home in Falls Church, Va., with a Mass of Christian burial to be celebrated on Thursday, Nov. 17, at St. Timothy Catholic Church in Chantilly, Va.

Murphy was to be buried in Arlington National Cemetery. A memorial Mass will scheduled to take place at St. Ann’s Church in Bethany Beach with a date yet to be announced.

The family is requesting that donations in Murphy’s name be made to St. Ann’s Catholic Church at 691 Garfield Parkway, POB 149, Bethany Beach, DE 19930.