Brenda O. Murphy

Brenda Murphy, lover of family, plants and flowers, bright splashy colors, music and laughter died on Wednesday, June 29, 2022.

Never an attention-seeker, she’ll hopefully forgive of all this fanfare in her passing. We know she’d be happy that it comforts us, her much loved family and friends, as we navigate respecting her privacy while honoring the beautiful, compassionate, under-stated, laugh-loving lady she was.

Foremost, Brenda loved her children, Scott Murphy (April) and twins Amy and Matt Murphy; her husband of 50+ years, Harvey Murphy; and grandson, Jake who called her Mimi. Her parents, Kathy and C. Paul Owens, were waiting for her in the hereafter. She had a favorite brother, Paul (Dutch), and sis-in law and heart, Cece; and a most favorite sister, Mary Owens. Which was her favorite child is debated frequently. We all so enjoy each other.

A graduate of Hillcrest Elementary, Howard Jr. High, Boone High, and Orlando Jr. College, Brenda was studious and well behaved. In school she sat in the back of class hoping not to be called on, but she was always eager to learn new things. While raising three children and working, she took evening and weekend classes in floral design (her great love), gardening, upholstery, piano, sewing, crafting, and stained glass. She brought gifts of beauty to others.

Mrs. Jane Harper of Harper Plumbing was her long time and much-loved employer, teacher and mentor. She worked as a bookkeeper at Gem Supply until she pursued her passion for floral design and created custom arrangements for her loyal customers at Wacamaw and Floral Design Mart. She also started a side business called Murphy Greens where she sold her signature wreaths and arrangements in local craft shows. Embracing the work ethic of her Mennonite mother, Brenda was an old school disciplined and conscientious employee. After retiring, she was so happy to be now free for her daily afternoon naps. No guilt.

Brenda was an encourager. Always joyful in a loved one’s accomplishments and deeply sad through their woes. She loved mischievous little boys with frogs in their pockets, little girls in pigtails and ruffles, and all things freckled: children, dogs, and flowers to name a few. She was uncomfortable around loud or bragging folks, hated being tickled or the subject of a practical joke. She loved walking barefoot in her backyard and basking in the sun as she pulled weeds from the lake. Her fav flowers to grow were zinnias and most “grandma” flowers. For store-bought flowers, parrot tulips or bright tulips, sunflowers with green centers, and lilies. They all brought her joy. She hated cold weather. She’d warm herself with soft plush and worry about others being cold, so would buy and drop off coats and gloves to the local elementary school without any need for praise. She never walked quickly; she sauntered to and fro.

Though she craved adventures, Bren was not a thrill seeker. So no, to I-4, yes to airboats, pontoons (especially Winter Park Lake tours) and Jeep rides through the woods. Yes to cypress swamps, big bright cities, mountains and the St. Johns River, not so much the beach. She only trusted her husband’s driving and loved that he’d stop anywhere along the way for her to pick a roadside flower or for her to peruse a local shop where he encouraged her buying, which she rarely did. Her husband and kids frequently went back to buy things to gift to her that she wouldn’t allow herself to buy. Though she always counted pennies and searched for bargains, she pushed us to buy what we loved. She’d sneak her daughter a bit of cash before a trip, telling her to “buy something special you wouldn’t get for yourself.”

She was a good piano player and accompanied our Christmas song singing in her home. Never comfortable with medical anything, she did not complain of ailments but offered much sympathy for ours. She hated cooking but cranked out meals for her family almost fifty years. Not one for eating strangers’ food at potlucks, she painstakingly always made the Texas sheet or red velvet cake and of course, the “correct” potato salad. She loved a hot fudge sundae and also French cuisine, TexMex, seafood, Sonny’s BBQ, fried or smoked mullet, Publix brand Brownie Moosetracks ice cream (an obsession, some might say), and a simple sandwich of bologna, peanut butter and jelly, or banana.

Brenda had a dry, sardonic sense of humor, not a joke teller but quick with a quip. Sit by her at social events for a day or night of fun. Even in her last years and months with dementia, she made those around her laugh with her sassy comebacks and facial expressions. She enjoyed People, Redbook and Southern Living magazines, trashy novels and Patrick Smith Florida books.

We’re inspired to quietly brighten our community as she did; to take ourselves lightly; to go to the manager with employee compliments, not complaints; plant something; to be kind, genuine and never showy; to distract and entertain fussy children in checkout lines; to love on her children; and finally to eat chocolate cake for breakfast.

Brenda said recently that she had a good life. She was grateful for her life, but no more than we feel for hers. Hug Elvis for us, Bren.

Brenda will be put to rest on Tuesday, July 5th. After a private family graveside service at Woodlawn, Gotha, we will celebrate her life afterwards at Dutch and Cece’s home in Orlando at 12:30.

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