Cover photo for Robert J. Murphy's Obituary
Robert J. Murphy Profile Photo

Robert J. Murphy

March 20, 1943 — May 13, 2023

Barnstable, Massachusetts

Robert J. Murphy

Robert J. Murphy, 80, of West Barnstable, died Saturday, May 13, 2023, at the Cape Cod Hospital in Hyannis, after outsmarting a variety of ailments for a long time. He was the longtime partner of Judith L. Kavanagh. Born in Brockton, son of the late Thomas and Dorothy (McNamara) Murphy, he was raised in Stoughton and was a graduate of St. Mary’s School and Stoughton High School, Class of 1961, where he was co-captain of the basketball team with Buddy McEwan. He later graduated from Stonehill College in Easton in 1966. He successfully completed a semester of course work at the Cornell School of Hotel and Restaurant Management in 1979.

Bob’s first job after Stonehill as an expediter for Lear Siegler in Grand Rapids, Michigan, taught him that an office career was not in the cards so he became a travelling expediter covering the New England territory. While on the road, he had time to think about how a roast beef sandwich stand concept he had seen in Michigan might be the perfect way to reopen and revive Mur-Mac’s, the restaurant founded by his parents in 1950 on the corner of Canton Street and Drake Avenue and to become his own boss. In 1968, after moving the building along route 27 to the corner of Park Street and Ash Street, the plan came to fruition and the rest is history. Over 4 decades, Mur-Mac’s Roast Beef was a fixture in the town and employed hundreds (no exaggeration) of Stoughton youth. As they got older, Kara and Kevin took on more responsibilities at “The Stand” and Bob was very happy to have them at his side. Through the years, Bob also had locations in Walpole, Easton, and Hyannis but Stoughton remained the flagship closing in 2007.

The needs of Mur-Mac’s required Bob to become an adept multi-tasker skilled in carpentry, plumbing and electrical work, much to the chagrin of the local inspectors. These abilities made him the perfect candidate for his retirement job as co-manager of the Yachtsman Condominiums in Hyannis from 2008-2013.

In his twenties, Bob started skiing at Cannon Mountain in New Hampshire with a group that formed at the Glen Echo in Stoughton, dubbing itself the Schlitz Haus Ski Club, which eventually migrated to Sugarloaf Mountain in Maine. This was a family friendly activity so Kathy, Kara and Kevin have many memories of those times. In 1980, he began skiing at Mount Snow, Vermont which became a favorite destination for Bob and his late best friend, Tom Powers, as well as Judy, who lived in the area for several years, Kara, Kevin, Owen, and Brett. We made some good friends in the Valley and despite his many health challenges, we all spent significant parts of 2015-2019 there.

Bob also was an avid runner, a love he passed on to Kevin and Owen, and was a fixture at the Y in Brockton for decades where 27 laps make a mile! He also enjoyed running the beautiful paths of Stonehill College and along the Cape Cod Canal.

Murph was a big fan of the epic road trip and had many willing accomplices starting with Kathy, Kara, Kevin, and his mother Dorothy on several journeys to the Magic Kingdom in Florida, never the same route twice. The late Tom Powers was the wingman on his first cross country adventure. In the ensuing years, Murph and Judy continued the tradition driving every mile of the Maine Coast, the southeast coast to Hilton Head, SC, several adventures cross country, up and down the Pacific Coast Highway, 3000 miles through Alaska, around 6 Hawaiian Islands-In the end, he had visited 49 of the 50 states (sorry North Dakota.)
Beyond the US, we were able to visit Canada, the United Kingdom, St. Maarten, and Ireland with a stop at his ancestral homeland, Macroom in County Cork, and spend a beautiful April week in Paris and Normandy. Summer of 2012 and 2013 found us in Europe again driving thousands of miles through France, Italy, Switzerland, Luxembourg, Germany, Austria, Czech Republic, The Netherlands, and Belgium. He navigated; I drove.

In his free time, Murph enjoyed time at the beach, exploring the Cape, reading, belated Christmas on the Cape, Kara’s chocolate chip cookies, projects with Kevin, dinner and a movie with Owen and Brett, and being surrounded with family and friends.
In addition to his partner Judy, he is survived by his daughter Kara A. Murphy of Stoughton and his son Kevin R. Murphy and his wife Amy of Bridgewater. He was the beloved grandfather of Owen P. “Mike” Murphy and Brett R. Murphy. He was the brother of the late Joan Camber and her husband Art and Richard T. Murphy and his wife Ann.  He is also survived by his former wife Kathleen Sylvester and her husband Les of Stoughton and his former daughter in law Kellie Murphy of Taunton as well as a multitude of nieces, nephews, and cousins on both coasts.

 It took a village to help us keep body and soul together for the past 7 years and we want to express our deep appreciation for the compassion, assistance and care we received from the Barnstable Village EMTs, the Barnstable Police, Dr. Jing Patrinostro, Dr. Gary Tratt, NP Lisa Grubbs, Dr. Michael Markowski, NP Julie Sieben, Dr. Peter Chiotellis, Dr. Michael Seidman, Dr. Eugene Hill, PA Bri Schreiner, and all the members of their practices, the VNA, Heritage in Sandwich, BDIMC in Plymouth, Regalcare in Harwich, the Pavilion in Hyannis and the skilled phlebotomists at the Wilkens Outpatient Complex. Last but not least, our heartfelt thanks to the hundreds of medical professionals we encountered at every unit (except maternity) of the Cape Cod Hospital in Hyannis through the years and especially these last few weeks. Our last 2 stops in the ICU and Mugar 4 were made more bearable by the professional expertise and kindness shown to us as the outcome became more inevitable. Thank You.

Funeral Service will be held in the Farley Funeral Home, 358 Park St. (Rt. 27) Stoughton on Friday, May 19, 2023 at 11 AM. Visiting Hours Thursday from 4-7 PM. In lieu of flowers, donations in Murph‘s memory may be made to the charity of your choice. A better tribute might be to take a friend to drink a cold Bud longneck, eat a fabulous meal, take an amazing trip or sit by a warm fire and reminisce. 

To order memorial trees or send flowers to the family in memory of Robert J. Murphy, please visit our flower store.

Past Services


Thursday, May 18, 2023

4:00 - 7:00 pm (Eastern time)

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Funeral Service

Friday, May 19, 2023

Starts at 11:00 am (Eastern time)

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