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June 8, 2020 - 10:34am

James C. Murphy

posted by Lisa Ace.


Massena: James C. Murphy, age 99 passed away peacefully on June 4, 2020 at the Massena Rehabilitation & Nursing Center. The family has entrusted funeral arrangements to the care and direction of the Phillips Memorial Home in Massena. Funeral services for James will be held at the convenience of the family with a graveside service held in St. Joseph’s Cemetery, in Batavia, NY at a later date.

James was born on June 6, 1920, in Buffalo, NY. He is the first of two children born to the late James E. and Anna (Scheur) Murphy. He is survived by his loving wife of 40 years, Viola (Neth, Wahls) Murphy formerly of Batavia, NY. James is also survived by his children: Sheilah Murphy of Seattle, WA; Kevin and Deborah Murphy, of Gloversville, NY; Arline Murphy, of Massena, NY; Nora and Bruce Murphy-Kotteman, of Princess Anne, MD; Deborah and Brian White-Sallee of Reno, NV; Arthur and Carla Wahls of Batavia, NY; and David and Robin Wahls, of Doswells, VA. James is also survived by seven grandchildren: Seana Murphy, of Salem, OR; Christopher and Noelle Murphy of Bennington, VT; Cassandra Murphy of Cromwell, CT; Kelly Conners of Massena, NY; Andrea and Robert Falkowski of East Bethany, NY; James and Tessali Wahls of Owego, NY; and Hillary Wahls, of Doswell, VA. He has 11 great-grandchildren: Dylan Murphy, Meghan Mills, William Murphy, James Murphy, Olivia Murray, Owynn Conners, Logan Wahls, Calayla Sacdalan, Wesley Falkowski, Emmaline Falkowski, and James J.A. Wahls. He was predeceased by his parents; his brother, Edward; and a grandson, Drew Wahls.

As a teenager he attended Fosdick-Masten Park High School in Buffalo until starting work for Western Union in 1936. Beginning in 1938 he served in the Civilian Conservation Corps, stationed in Nevada and Idaho, in part as a forest fire fighter. He often remarked that the years spent with the C.C.C. were among his most formative and even 80 years later was moved by the memory of those who were lost. Following his time with the C.C.C. he entered the United States Army in February 7, 1942 to serve his country proudly during World War II.

During the war, he served with the 88th Infantry Division in North Africa and Italy. In Italy he was transferred to 5th Army City Command Section, under the 5th Army Headquarters, where he served establishing provisional governments in liberated cities. He was honorably discharged from the service on December 12, 1945. 

In 1948 he began his career with General Motors at the gear and axle plant in Buffalo. He transferred to the engine plant in Tonawanda four years later. Then in 1959 he and his then-wife Joan, and their four children moved to Massena where he began work at the Chevrolet aluminum foundry. He worked continuously until his retirement in 1987. The following year he was brought on as a consultant in the creation of the Saturn Corporation in Detroit, MI. James later returned to consult for GM from 1993-1996, and 1998-2004.

James loved all sports, but had a particular affinity for horse racing, basketball, and football. He was an avid bowler, serving as Secretary and Treasurer of the Sunday night mixed doubles league at the Seaway Bowl for 15 years. He enjoyed bicycle racing and table tennis, and went on to compete in the New York State Senior Games in 1990 and 1991, where he won gold medals in the 5,000 and 10,000 meter races, and a bronze medal in table tennis. In 1992 he competed in the National Senior Games in Syracuse. Throughout his life James loved singing, story-telling, and jokes and he loved sharing these with his family and friends. Whether in the barracks, at the bowling alley, at the GM Retirees’ luncheons, on several cruises with his wife Viola, during Friday nights at the Village Inn, as a member of the Sacred Heart Choir, or when he was surrounded by family, James could always be relied on for laughter and song. It’s hard to imagine a finer bequest than that.

In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be acknowledged with St. Vincent de Paul; 128 Main St, Massena, NY 13662 or Hospice & Palliative Care of St. Lawrence Valley; 6805 US-11, Potsdam, NY 13676. Memories and online condolences may be shared with the family by visiting www.PhillipsMemorial.com

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