William Herbert Murphy

1928 - 2005

William Murphy, a bass-baritone soloist, taught music in six academies and one college in the Seventh-day Adventist school system during a career that spanned over forty years. A quiet and thoughtful person, he possessed good organizational skills and enjoyed a reputation as an effective choir director and voice teacher.

William (Bill) was born in Gary, West Virginia, the youngest of three children and only son of Dewey, a coal miner, and Gladys Niswander Murphy. His family joined the Adventist church when he was thirteen and a year later Bill enrolled at and attended Mount Vernon Academy before transferring to La Sierra Academy in 1945 for his senior year, when his sisters enrolled at La Sierra College, now University.

When he entered LSC in the fall of 1946, he sang in a male quartet along with Moses Chalmers and two other students.  He caught the attention of Harlan Abel, college choir director, and was invited to join the choir and then encouraged to pursue a career in music.  When Abel accepted a teaching position at Union College at the end of Bill’s first year at LSC, Abel convinced him to transfer to UC as a music major.

Because Bill, a mason, had to work in construction to earn his way through college, he would spend five years at UC, graduating in 1952 with a major in music.  In 1949 he met Doralee Kaufman, a pianist and music major, and they married in 1951. They would have two sons, Jay, in 1953, and Tyler, in 1958.

In 1952 Murphy was hired to teach in the academy at UC as he graduated, but was drafted into the army that October.  After serving for two years in the medical work of the army in Colorado, he worked in construction with Don Kirkman in Denver.

In 1955 the principal of Enterprise Academy in Kansas convinced the Murphys to teach music at his school. Following two years there, where he directed the choir and she taught piano and organ and accompanied his choirs and students, they accepted positions at Lodi Academy in California, where they taught music for the next eight years and he chaired the department.

During that time both Bill and Doralee completed master’s degrees in music at Colorado State University in Greeley, where she had spent her childhood. After teaching at San Diego Academy for a year, Murphy was invited in 1966 by Melvin West, music department chair at Walla Walla College, now University, to be a member of the music faculty.

They had earlier been roommates and had become friends at UC when West had attended there for a year before transferring to EMC, now Andrews University.  Murphy’s success in teaching since that time and personal qualities made him an ideal choice to assist in the choral/vocal area, and for the next six years he directed the College Chorale and taught voice. During his second year at WWC, Murphy also served as interim music department chair for the last half of that school year.

The Murphys became teachers at Sandia View Academy in New Mexico in 1973, where they taught for four years. She resumed teaching lessons and accompanying his choirs, the latter a role she particularly enjoyed, and also assisted in other ways at the school. During their stay he oversaw the construction of a new gymnasium at the academy.

They returned to California in 1977 to teach music at Armona Academy and would work there until 1990, when he retired. He again oversaw the construction of a gymnasium at AA and also taught a woodworking class. She retired in 1995 after working in a nearby hospital. Doralee later wrote about their post-retirement years:

In June 1996, a former colleague from Armona Academy who was then teaching at Rio Lindo Adventist Academy in Healdsburg, California, called us to say that they unexpectedly had lost their choir teacher to a school in the East and would we please come do the choir for just one year to fill in until they could find a replacement. Bill was reluctant to leave the house he had built in Hanford because of the almond orchard, but the Rio principal said he would give us extra consideration to go home every six weeks at "home-leaves" and wouldn't require as much "campus duty" as for the other teachers. So we agreed to go for one year and brought just enough furniture to live in a campus duplex.

We had a wonderful choir that year and were asked to continue, but Bill's health was beginning to fail, and he decided it would be better to sell the place in Hanford and move to Healdsburg, not to continue teaching, but to do volunteer work on campus. The principal was delighted with that idea because there were always building projects on campus that the maintenance men did not have time for. So Bill continued to volunteer twenty to thirty hours every week until the last six months of his life. I have continued to volunteer in the business office.

The Murphys were living in Healdsburg when he died, at age 76.


Source; Interview with Doralee Murphy, 24 October;  WWC newspaper, The Collegian, 11 January 1968; Obituary, Pacific Union Recorder, August 2005; Howard/Moser family tree, Ancestory.com.