Evans Funeral Home
"Compassionate Funeral Service"
Carrington and New Rockford, North Dakota
701.652.3003 or 701.947.2911
Secondary Number ~ 701.650.9937
John Wendelin Murphy was born July 5, 1929 to Terrence & Lenora Murphy, the eldest of three living children. In 1940, his mother died in childbirth with the birth of her fourth child. The loss of his mother and young sibling shaped the development of his character, with his strongest attributes being protector and provider for others — not only his own family, but the members of his community, as well.
The death of his mother affected his father to such a degree that John had to take over the management of his family farm at the age of about 15. He graduated from Bordulac High and attended NDSU for one year. He had the dream of attending medical school, but his hope was cut short due to his strong sense of duty to continue the legacy of farming begun by his great grandfather, John William Murphy, one of the founding members of Foster County. He was an efficient and analytical farmer and was well respected as a cattleman and rancher. A normal farming day usually started at 8:00 AM and ended by suppertime. Only on extremely rare occasions did he work on Sundays. One of his favorite farming tasks was stacking hay and riding horse, which he did until the age of 80.
In 1953, John married Bertha (Seitz), and together they raised five children, whom he often called his “pride and joy”. During his marriage of 63 years, John and Bertha were committed to the needs of both family and community. He served for 30 years as Foster County Commissioner and loved every minute of it. In addition, he served on the ND Association of Counties, township board, and the local hospital board. John was always busy working to solve various types of problems, from the complex math problems assigned to his children, to the recruitment and securing of a physician for the community. John’s commitment to family and community was also seen in his undying willingness to help members of both his immediate and extended families. He also contributed to, and helped set up, a fund designed to provide medical school training to an aspiring physician, enabling the community to benefit from needed services.
The Murphy family and the family farm was not neglected during his many years of service to Foster County. His sons Michael and John joined him in crop production, as well as the raising of both cattle and sheep. Wanting to assure there would be sufficient land for both of his sons, both John and Bertha were driven to see the growth of the farm to the point where both sons and their families could continue the tradition of farming.
John and Bertha valued knowledge, education and appreciating “the finer things of life”. To this end, John was an avid reader and collector of interesting artifacts. He and Bertha enjoyed travelling the world, both here, in North Dakota, and as far away as Tahiti and China. Their trips always ended with discussions showing an increased appreciation for the earth’s beauty, and the cultures of other peoples. While John may not have acquired a college degree, he and Bertha were committed to seeing their children educated. Their eldest daughter, Louise, practiced medicine as a family physician. Their youngest son, Paul, became an attorney, and their youngest daughter, Eileen, worked as a university professor.
Among the treasured memories held by his family are his trips to the pasture to find the tender shoots of the early crocuses he brought back to the house, the trips to Kelly Creek, picnics at Dry Lake, spring cattle drives, and the generosity shown by opening his home to many who were entertained by his great ability to tell a good story. Particularly formative to his family were holiday meals and the Sunday morning brunch. He always enjoyed seeing the family around the large formal dining room table, discussing various matters ranging from politics, to science, to cultural issues. These occasions were frequently enriched by the presence of guests or elderly family members.
He was preceded in death by his great uncle, Arthur Cletus Murphy, and his parents. He is survived by his wife, Bertha, his daughter Louise & Robert Biwer; Michael & Cindy, Eileen & Rodney Savelkoul, John & Tina, and Paul, as well as his 15 grandchildren and 5 great-grandchildren: Christopher, Adam (Rachel & baby Gwen) Biwer, and Shannon (Peter & baby Ivan) Reimer; Jenna (Brett) Hershberger and Casey (Maartje) Murphy; Margaret, Elliot, Audra, and Lily Savelkoul; Jessica (Christopher, and children Jack, Lucas, & Emerson) Skadberg, James, Shania (Seth) Gilliss, and Jonathan; Connal & Ceara; and his younger brother and sister Dan Murphy and MaryKay Puffee.
Visitation will be held at a later date.
Private Family Mass of Christian Burial will be on Saturday, April 4, 2020.
A Memorial Mass open to the public will be held at a later date.
Burial will be in the Carrington Cemetery.
Condolences are reviewed by staff.