J. Lee Murphy passed away July 18, 2019 after a long struggle with Parkinson’s Disease. He was born on April 24, 1932, in Muskegon, MI, the son of the late Joseph Lee Murphy and R. Lorraine Murphy. Lee spent an idyllic childhood in Muskegon, playing baseball across the street at McCrea Park and lifeguarding at Lake Michigan.
Lee attended Muskegon Junior College and he joined the Naval Reserve, later transferring to the University of Michigan Business School where he graduated in 1954. After one year attending the University of Michigan Law School, he was drafted into the US Army where he spent two years serving his country in West Germany and enjoying the charms of Europe on his weekend leaves. Following his discharge from the army, he returned to the US and graduated from U of M Law School in 1959.
Lee worked for several years in the tax department of Ernst & Ernst where he obtained his CPA certificate, in Detroit following his graduation. He then moved to Grand Rapids to join the law firm of Miller, Johnson, Snell & Cummiskey where he practiced for over 50 years.
Lee was involved in his profession, community and local arts by serving on the board of the Grand Rapids Bar Association and tax section of the Michigan State Bar and served as President of the Penn Club and Cascade Hills Country Club. Lee was president of the Grand Rapids Ballet and the Grand Rapids Civic Theater Endowment Board and enjoyed years of performances of both.
Lee was an avid traveler, and with his wife, Sue, traveled to fifty countries, returning to Paris, France seven times. He was an excellent ballroom dancer and could outlast most of his partners on the dance floor.
Lee enjoyed playing sports, especially softball which he played well into his 60’s and later many years of golf. He was an avid Wolverine fan and held season tickets to the football games for 40 years.
Lee loved his family and spent many hours watching his grandchildren playing sports, musical instruments, singing and pulling them on tubes behind his motorboat on Silver Lake.
Lee is survived by Sue, his wife of 41 years, sons Joseph L. (Maya), Paul, John (Nahid), Steven (Jennifer) DeRoos, and daughter-in-law Cathy Cornelius. Lee is also survived by grandchildren Matthew (Colleen) Murphy, Michelle (James) Burkhardt, Noah Murphy, Elizabeth Murphy, Colin Murphy, Caitlin Murphy, Shannon Murphy, Nicholas DeRoos, Nathaniel DeRoos, and Samuel DeRoos. He also leaves behind one great grandchild, Natalie Burkhardt. Lee is survived by brother Paul (Lexie O’Brien) Murphy, and sisters Jean (Wes) Anderson, Mary (Tom) Lewis, brother-in-law David Noreen and sisters-in-law Sally (Mike) Terwilliger and Sandra (Tim) Fuhrman, as well as numerous nieces and nephews. Lee was blessed with wonderful friends and work colleagues through his lifetime.
A Mass of Christian Burial will take place on Saturday, July 27 at 11AM at St. Roberts of Newminster, 6477 Ada Dr SE, Ada. Visitation will be at the O’Brien Gerst Chapel, 3980 Cascade Road SE, Grand Rapids, on Friday, July 26 from 2-4 and 6-8 PM.
In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to the Grand Rapids Civic Theater Endowment, 30 N. Division, Grand Rapids, MI, 49503, the Aquinas College J. Lee & Susan Murphy Business Scholarship Fund, 1700 Fulton St E, Grand Rapids, MI 49506 or a charity of your choosing.