Jeannie in dorm at Carleton
Jeannie at Carleton

Welcome to the Jeannie Murphy memorial web page

Here are a few photos and memories of Jeannie Murphy who died of colon cancer at 46. She will be greatly missed. If you have any photos or memories, please feel free to send them to me and I will post them on this website. - Dan

Click on a photo to enlarge.

Theresa and Jeannie on graduation day at Carleton.

From Theresa Wagner:
I want to share memories about Jeannie's sense of justice. I think she probably had always had this idealistic sense, of accepting and encouraging people. At Carleton College, where we met, Jeannie studied political science with Paul Wellstone, who was a catalyst for many to develop political consciences and to learn about political organizing.

Grass roots politics wasn’t just some ideology; it struck a chord in Jeannie’s nature. It resonated with her faith in God. Jeannie was quite sure what was wrong and what was right, and what needed her attention. It was wrong to believe that people are poor because they deserve it. It was right to learn peoples’ own stories. It was right to encourage women to reach their potential and to protest for equal and fair treatment. It was right to give people the benefit of the doubt and a second chance. It was right for people to be empowered to make their lives and their world better.

Jeannie lived out these ideals of justice, as she found her way in the world at her own pace. Her hospitality, friendship, care-giving, and teaching were gentle acts of justice and empowerment. Jeannie was a beautiful human being, a "wonderful spirit on this earth," as another friend recently wrote.

Jeannie, you lived well and truly, and you are missed.

Seattle, Washington
September 9, 2006

Theresa and Jeannie at Carleton during Spring Festival.

Jeannie, Theresa, Evelyn, Paula and Katy at Carleton
From Evelyn

Hi Dan,

Theresa Wagner has been great in keeping me informed about Jeannie during these past few weeks. I have been remiss in contacting you directly to thank you for reaching out to Jeannie's friends and passing along the sad news about her illness, even though it must have been hard for you. You've always had a special relationship with Jeannie, and we're grateful that she asked you to inform others of her situation. I know that Theresa has appreciated your support during this difficult time; she really enjoyed spending time with you during her recent trip to the Twin Cities.

Just this past July, I saw Theresa in Seattle and we talked about Jeannie and how we both had not heard from her in a couple of years. I am so grateful that you contacted us and I had the opportunity to talk to Jeannie in a wonderful, long conversation the week before she died. I will never forget that last conversation with her. Despite her illness, Jeannie was so lucid, full of passion and love. . .the same warm and caring friend we all remember so well. We were able to catch up, share our lives with each other, cry, laugh, and recall so many warm moments together. There are so many good memories of Jeannie, but there are two most dear to me:

1. Frozen strawberry daiquiri parties with Jeannie. We (Theresa, Jeannie, Katy Lukermann-Plaisance, and I) frequently gathered in our Carleton dorm rooms for much fun together with these frozen drinks. With our ice crusher, blender, and the proper mixings, we would sip frozen daiquiris and share dreams, worries, silly and serious stories with each other . . . to the wee hours. So many of my photographs of Jeannie and other girlfriends at Carleton were taken at such gatherings. We had A LOT of them! After college, we continued the frozen daiquiri parties in the apartment that Theresa and I shared in Minneapolis. The number of friends, mostly other Carleton women, grew for these gatherings. The parties become a kind of "tradition" for us: a special time among close friends to unwind and share our lives. I'm not sure if Jeannie started this tradition for us. Nevertheless, every time I have a frozen daiquiri (not quite as many as before), I think of my dear friend, Jeannie.

Evelyn, Theresa and Jeannie and Dan's

2. Thanksgiving with Jeannie and the Murphy's. Well, it snows in Minnesota -- frequently around the Thanksgiving holiday! Shortly after we graduated from Carleton, I had planned to go home to be with my family in Indiana, along with my sister, Helga, who was a freshman at Macalester College at the time. We were supposed to drive home with another friend. But, it snowed and snowed and snowed. . .part of the interstate from the Twin Cities to Chicago was even closed. We were stranded in Minneapolis. But, it turned out to be a wonderful Thanksgiving because Jeannie invited us to spend Thanksgiving Day and Dinner with her and her lovely family. Jeannie was so caring; she always opened her home and heart to others. My sister was especially homesick that year since it was her first time away from home for Thanksgiving, but Jeannie turned that holiday into one that holds a special memory for us. Jeannie and I talked about that memorable Thanksgiving during our last conversation together.

Dan, thanks for being such a good friend to Jeannie and others. The circumstances of Jeannie's death have been so sad. Jeannie was so dear to all of us and she died too young. We loved her. We will all miss her. I'm sorry that I will miss her memorial service this Saturday, but my thoughts and prayers are with you, her family, and all her many friends. She'll never be forgotten. Certainly, not her bright smile and passion for bringing happiness to all around her.

Warmest regards,


Dan and Jeannie at Washburn Homecoming

From Dan McCreary:

When we remember Jeannie, there are many aspects of her personality and her values that come to mind. A sunny disposition, optimism, a love nature and of children, a desire to help and nurture others and make the world a better place. But there is one value that she taught me that stands out: that we can consciously choose what we remember about or family and friends. And in her creative work I believe she tells us exactly what we should remember.

I met Jeannie in junior-high where classroom seating was often assigned alphabetically by last name. I was “McCreary”, she was “Murphy”, so we frequently got seated right next to each other. And she became my closest friend and was my constant companion for many of our high-school and college years.

In high-school we were both on the yearbook staff. I was a photographer and she was the layout editor. Most days I would develop a roll of black-and-white film in the darkroom and bring out a contact sheet of the photos. Jeannie was always the first to review my work and dutifully circled the photos she thought were the most interesting using an orange wax pencil. These were the only photos I would enlarge and would be considered for use in the yearbook.

What I learned was that Jeannie had a strong interest in specific types of photos. To Jeannie, photos of people smiling were OK, but what she really loved were pictures of people laughing. She constantly encouraged me to figure out ways to get people to laugh for the camera. “We need more photos of people laughing!” she would frequently say.

At the end of our high-school yearbook you will find a very special page I will always think of as “Jeannie’s page”. It is a collage of over 30 photos of …of…well you guessed it… people laughing. And at the center is the following quote from the lyrics of a song… popularized by Barbara Steisand from movie “The Way We Were”. And it goes like this…

Jeannie's Yearbook Layout

So it’s the laughter

…that we remember

…whenever we remember

…the way we were.

So, when we remember Jeannie, what aspects do you think she would want us to remember about her and the times we spent with her and our family and friends? I think if she were here today, she would be telling us she wants us to remember not only her laughter but the laughter we share with our families and friends.

September 9th, 2006

St. Louis Park, Minnesota

From Elizabeth (Betsy) O'Shea (Evers)

My Dear Friend “Murph”,

I’m addressing this to you as I know that you are listening.  I was so glad to have the time that we shared a few weeks ago and am reflecting on the weekend that you spent with us in California last year.    I remember thinking at that time how wonderful it is to have a friendship in which we may go many months without speaking but then feel as though we were just together ‘yesterday’ when we manage to reconnect!

I pulled out my high school year books and found the following words that you wrote to me in 1977:

“I think that we compliment each other - so that you are not too ‘rowdie’ and I’m not too chicken to do stuff… I know that I kid you a lot, but I’ve got so many things to thank you for.   Thanks for the good times, thanks for sharing your troubles and hearing mine, thanks for being there when I needed you, from 9th grade on up.  Thanks for being such a terrific friend.   That’s what it’s all about, isn’t it?”

Yes, that IS what it’s all about – and I find these to be very insightful words coming from a  (then) 17 year old!   I think it says everything about you as a person – and explains why people (like me) have been drawn to you over the years.

You also threatened to call me in 50 years and scream “Rattlesnakes” into the phone… You bet that I would remember the significance of that and have a good laugh.  Well, I did chuckle when I read it (and was amazed to think that it HAS been 30 years!).  While  I am sad to think that I will not get that call – I also take great comfort  in knowing that you are watching over us all. You commented in your note that we would be ‘old’ after all that time – but to me, you will be forever young and beautiful.

As I write these thoughts, my little Liam is sleeping nearby.   I can only hope that during his life he will enjoy at least one friendship as special as the one that I have been so fortunate to have with you.

Love (your friend forever),



Jeannie and Dan in the BWCA
Dan, unknown and Jeannie in the BWCA
Jennie, Jeannie, Betsy, Julie and Jon at my house on Clinton Ave. in Minneapolis.
Gret, Jeannie, Dave, Betsy and Dan at Washburn High Reunion
Jeannie and Jennie (Leck) Tomhave at Washburn High Reunion
Dan and Jeannie 1983
Spring formal dance at Washburn High School.  Spring 1977.