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Michael J. Murphy

February 2, 1950 March 11, 2020
Michael J. Murphy
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Obituary for Michael J. Murphy

Michael, age 70 of Littleton, Colorado.

Michael Joseph Murphy was born on February 2, 1950, in Frankfurt, Germany, where his parents Christine Anna Odernheimer, a young German woman and William Joseph Murphy, met at the end of World War II when William was a soldier in the US Army. Christine and William married and applied for recognition of American citizenship for Michael, his brother Patrick and sister Christine, which was awarded by the High Commissioner of Germany.

In 1955, Michael's family came to America, and in the process, his name was changed. Michael's German birth certificate lists his name as Michael Johann Murphy, but during his entrance to the US, an immigration official changed his name to Michael Joseph Murphy. The story goes that the official thought Johan was the same as Joseph in English, while it actually translated to John in German. At the time, no one questioned the change as Michael's father's middle name was Joseph. He thus became Michael Joseph Murphy. When the family made its move to the United States, they settled initially in New London, Connecticut, his father's birthplace. Michael and his siblings were enrolled in public school to learn English, but learning English was not easy, as his mom Christine did not speak the language, and there was no such thing as an ESL program in schools.

Michael's father remained in the Army until his retirement in the mid-1970s. Due to his Army career, the family moved almost annually between Germany and the US; including serving multiple tours of duty in Germany (Frankfurt, Darmstadt, and Bad Kreuznach) , as well as numerous stations across the US (Groton, Connecticut, Ft Belvoir, Virginia, Salina, Kansas, Moses Lake, Washington, and Fort Bragg and Fayetteville, North Carolina). This constant moving created a challenging life for Michael and his siblings as the family had grown to 11 children. Michael's father was repeatedly sent on Army assignments, and his mother was often left alone to navigate strange cities, manage all the children and take care of all the family affairs. Michael said that growing up as an "Army brat" in these conditions was challenging, but it made him stronger.

As the third oldest of 11 children, Michael is survived by six siblings: Christine Moore (husband Perry) in Arizona, Jeffery in Texas; John Timothy (wife Terry) in Florida; Donald (wife Aziza) in South Carolina & Egypt; Mary Hardin (husband Wesley) in Pennsylvania; and Robert (wife Darlene) in New Jersey. Michael was predeceased by his parents and by four siblings: Patrick, William “Billy”, Gary, and James (wife Judy) in Arizona.

Michael graduated high school graduation in Salina, Kansas, and then helped his family move to Fayetteville, NC, where his family would finally settle for many years. During the Vietnam War era, Michael joined the Army Special Forces as a marksman earning a Green Beret, but luckily as the war was starting to wind down a bit, he was transferred into the 82nd Airborne, where he earned a Maroon Beret and learned to parachute.

After serving in the Army for nearly three years, Michael was honorably discharged at about the same time as his brother James was getting out of the Air Force in Colorado. After hearing about how much James loved Colorado, Michael bought a car and drove to Denver to meet up with James. They moved into an apartment at 13th and Washington streets. As fate would have it, that was the same corner where Ben Sisler owned Central Wheel Alignment, where Lynette worked while going to college. Michael spotted Lynette from his apartment window and after several sightings, decided he needed to walk across the street and start a conversation with her. Things went well, and they started dating, fell in love, and started what would become a 46+ year partnership.

As a recent vet, Michael used the GI bill to attend Metropolitan State College. The classes he loved most were skiing, racquetball and tai chi. Michael then continued his education and obtained his master's degree in Public Administration (MPA) from the University of Colorado. With two degrees in Human Services, Michael entered the field of social work and worked at Triad House, a youth shelter, and then worked for Traveler's Aid, and Volunteers of America helping families in need align with critical social services.

Michael and Lynette were married on August 27, 1977, living near Cheesman Park with their dogs Sammy and then two English Sheepdogs Brady and Calico. Dogs, cats and fish would be a constant in their lives throughout the relationship. Every dog and cat they owned became devoted to Michael, knowing that he would ensure they were fed, groomed, and had games or walks.

In August 1979, Michael and Lynette bought a house in Littleton on Meadow Drive. Shortly thereafter they had two sons, Tyler and Justin, who became the center of their lives. Michael was the most wonderful dad. When Justin was small, he quit his job and started his own business to stay home with the boys when he said that they were picking up too many germs in daycare. At that time, very few dads stayed home with their children, and Michael bucked societal pressures because he knew in his heart that his family was most important. Over time Michael learned to appreciate being an early trendsetter as a stay at home dad. As the kids grew, Michael became a roof estimator, a job that provided him the ability to work flexible hours. With the ability to create his own schedule, Michael could prioritize other more important things such as coaching little league soccer, taking the kids to football, rollerblading team events and attending ice hockey practice and games with both of his sons.

Being in shape was a source of pride and strength. Michael was always physically active, with a love for most sports, including hiking, skiing, biking, rollerblading and jogging. Up until he developed cancer, Michael often jogged 4 miles followed by a minimum of 300 sit-ups, 100 push-ups, and 10-20 pull-ups.

Michael's strength served him well, as he encountered several medical challenges. In the early 90's he was treated for throat cancer, received radiation, and conquered his cancer. In the mid-2000s, he had several skin cancer surgeries. In May 2019, over 15 years after his first bout with cancer, Michael was diagnosed with a rare esophagogastric cancer. Despite the advanced stage of the cancer, Michael did not give up but was instead determined to fight it with all he that he had, enduring 9+ surgeries and two grueling rounds of chemotherapy.

Those close to Michael remain in awe of his determination, which he said was motivated by his desire to be with his family, his pets and his favorite possessions. Michael was a man who valued all of his blessings, including the final time he had with all of his family members and friends.

Michael passed away on March 11, 2020, at 1:35 pm peacefully in his sleep at age 70 with his wife Lynette and sons Tyler and Justin with him.

Memories can be left on Michael's Tribute Wall with additional details at

Donations can be made in Michael's memory to Denver Dumb Friends League of Denver or the Sierra Club.

To plant a tree in memory of Michael J. Murphy, visit the Tribute Store.

Previous Events





10:00 AM 3/20/2020 10:00:00 AM - 11:00 AM 3/20/2020 11:00:00 AM
The Chapel at Ellis Family Services

13436 West Arbor Place
Littleton, CO 80127

The family will receive friends prior to the service.

The Chapel at Ellis Family Services
13436 West Arbor Place Littleton 80127 CO
United States

Celebration of Life




11:00 AM 3/20/2020 11:00:00 AM - 12:00 PM 3/20/2020 12:00:00 PM
The Chapel at Ellis Family Services

13436 West Arbor Place
Littleton, CO 80127

The Chapel at Ellis Family Services
13436 West Arbor Place Littleton 80127 CO
United States

Cemetery Details


Golden Cemetery Final Resting Place

755 Ulysses Street
Golden, CO 80401

755 Ulysses Street Golden 80401 CO
United States

Memorial Contribution

Denver Dumb Friends League

2080 South Quebec Street
Denver, CO 80231
In Michael's memory.

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