Gerst Logo

Joseph James Murphy



Memorial Contributions

The Black Cat Foundation


Joseph “Joe” Murphy was born on October 6, 1956 in Grand Rapids, Michigan to Florence Botticelli Murphy and John Christopher Murphy Sr. He was the fourth born of his six siblings – Paty, John Jr., Mary Jo, Mollie and Danny. Joe was raised in East Grand Rapids where he formed life-long friendships with whom he affectionally called “the boys”. He also met Delia, his first wife and mother of his three daughters while growing up there. He moved to live with his father in East Lansing his senior year, where he finished high school, but Grand Rapids was always “home”. He began working in the grocery business at a young age and continued in that industry until his retirement in 2022. He held numerous positions and climbed the corporate ladder to become a District Manager for Spartan Nash overseeing and directing up to 16 stores during his tenure. Any co-worker would describe him as “intense”, which was a favorite word of his. Joe and Delia welcomed three daughters, Alise, Alivia and Alexis, between 1987 and 1993. To know Joe, was to know his girls were his world. He loved to flaunt his pride of their accomplishments and even spent many years part-time living with them in their adulthood, as he had to travel for work across the state. They loved to do everything together including golfing, dining out somewhere with a good patio and most importantly spending time at his favorite place on earth – Lake Michigan. In 2013, Joe met his second wife Debbra and got married in 2015. They were a great match and shared many common interests including travel and family time. They each had three kids and were so blessed to have such a positive family blending experience. In their short-lived retirement of just a year, they sold their beach house, moved closer to his step kids, grandkids, and friends, traveled to Turks and Caicos and Grand Cayman Island, and lived in Mexico for two months. He always lived life to the fullest. When Joe became “Poppi” to his granddaughter Devlyn, his entire world changed. She was the light of his life and he loved spoiling her. He requested daily pictures of her to see her outfit of the day or hear her speak more words. Their connection was incredible. One of Joe’s biggest accomplishments that he held dearly to his heart was starting the Black Cat Foundation with close friends to raise money for different charities around Grand Rapids. He loved giving back and supporting those in need. Joe was bigger than life and always captured any room’s attention. He will forever be known as the rock of his family and friends. He was bold, unapologetic, caring, noble, wise, impatient, mean, funny, brave, and loved deeply. He had “Murphy eyes”, a contagious laugh, an unmatched deep voice and could always be found with a Black and Mild cigar in his hand. Lake Michigan was truly a part of his soul and his life dream to live on the lake did come true before his earthly departure. His ashes will be scattered at the lake to join loved ones who also are scattered there. Joe was preceded in death by his father John Christopher Murphy Sr., mother Florence Botticelli Murphy, brother John Christopher Murphy Jr., sister Patricia Murphy, brother-in-law Brad Smith and nephews Joseph and John Smith. He is survived by his wife Debbra Murphy, daughters Alise (Shamus) Robinson, Alivia (Josh Richter) Murphy, and Alexis Murphy, stepsons Adam (Sarah) Nieuwkoop and Jordan (Shay) Nieuwkoop, stepdaughter Lindsay (Brian) Morris, brother Danny (Cathy) Murphy, sisters Mary Jo (Sue) Murphy and Mollie Murphy, nephews John Murphy and Bryan (Bre) Murphy, niece Megan (Woody) Woodcox, granddaughter Devlyn Robinson, step grandchildren Beckett Grassmid, Evie Nieuwkoop, Olive Nieuwkoop, Hazel Nieuwkoop, Lilly Nieuwkoop, Jaxon Nieuwkoop, and Kaia Nieuwkoop, Grayson Morris, and Carter Morris, his large extended Botecelli family and countless life-long friends who he considered family. A celebration of life will be held on Saturday, June 10 from 7-10pm at Noto’s at the Bilmar in Grand Haven, Michigan. In lieu of flowers, please consider donating to the Black Cat Foundation.

Sign the Guestbook

4 Responses

  1. Joe was very special! The few times I saw him at family reunions he made a lasting impression. He was always very welcoming and kind to me. He will not be forgotten.

  2. Oh Joe, I will so miss you. Thank you for bringing Deb into our fold.

  3. I always respectfully called him “Poppa Joe”. He became such a great friend as my relationship with his three beautiful daughters grew. Always had a big smile and an even bigger laugh. He left us way too soon but I’ll cherish the memories and smile every time. Love and peace to his extended family. RIP Papa Joe. ????????❤️

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.