“Voice of God” lives on in new RCS scholarship

Bill Murphy had the voice of God – a measured, deep and rich timbre that could have commanded Moses at the burning bush or Eve in the Garden of Eden. Whenever he strode to the lectern at Our Lady of Perpetual Help, a look of satisfaction spread among parishioners, for they knew the Word was about to be delivered with a power rivaling the prophets themselves.

Mr. Murphy’s voice was silenced one year ago today when he passed away peacefully at his Salem home at the age of 90.

But thanks to his generosity and that of his children, Mr. Murphy’s legacy will resonate for many years at Roanoke Catholic School. Named for him and his wife, the Bill and Bernice Murphy Scholarship Fund will provide a perpetual source of funds for families in need of tuition assistance.

The Fund was created by a bequest of nearly $30,000 from his estate, and will be managed by the Catholic Community Foundation of the Diocese of Richmond. Each year, Roanoke Catholic plans to withdraw 4 percent of the Fund to provide need-based scholarships (initially around $1,100). Assuming the Foundation’s annual return maintains its historic average, the Fund will grow even after RCS’ annual withdrawals, and yield even larger scholarships in years to come.

William Francis Murphy was born on July 29, 1926 in Holyoke, Mass. He graduated high school in 1942 and was an announcer at WLOF where he first learned to speak professionally. In 1944 he joined the Navy and served in the Pacific theater. He met his future wife, Bernice Gengler, a Navy nurse who was a farm girl from southwest Minnesota, at a naval hospital while he recuperated from surgery. They married in 1948, and a year later moved to Providence, R.I., where he attended Brown University and received his electrical engineering degree. In 1951, he began a 37-year career with Western Electric Co.

The couple lived during these years in Rhode Island, New Jersey and Massachusetts, sending all eight of their children to Catholic schools. But it wasn’t until they moved to Salem after retirement that they finally found a home.

Mrs. Murphy died in 2001. Following Mr. Murphy’s death Sept. 27, 2016, his son Neal, a parishioner at Our Lady of Perpetual Help and co-trustee of his father’s estate, approached Roanoke Catholic about creating a scholarship fund to help families in need.

“Mr. Murphy didn’t have a direct connection to Roanoke Catholic, just a firm belief in the importance of Catholic education,” says Patrick Patterson, principal and head of school. “We are humbled by his generosity, we deeply appreciate the support of his children, and we vow to preserve and cherish the spirit that made all of this possible.”

To learn more about Roanoke Catholic’s endowed scholarship program that provides a permanent legacy for individuals who care about Catholic education, please contact Debbie Stump, dstump@roanokecatholic.com, or Michael Hemphill, mhemphill@roanokecatholic.com, 540.982.3532.