COLONIE — Longtime Village of Colonie trustee John “Jack” Murphy died on Dec. 26. He was 87.
The Christian Brothers Academy graduate, class of ’53, and former Waterford High School and Russell Sage College basketball coach had a passion for sports and he was a strong enough athlete to get elected to the Albany Twilight League and CBA Halls of Fame. He also volunteered at St. Clare’s CYO basketball and Colonie Little League and Babe Ruth for years.
He retired after a career with the state Office of General Services and was first elected as a trustee in 1995. He served for 25 years in that capacity and as deputy mayor. During his tenure, the board oversaw huge growth in town and approved construction of a new Fire Department, a new community center and significant improvements to Cook Park. He and other elected officials, though, took pains to make sure the village, located in the center of town with Central Avenue running through the middle of it, kept a village feel, where everyone knows your name and the Easter Bunny and Santa are paraded around the streets on a fire truck during their respective holidays.
“He was one of the most well-known people I ever met,” said Village Mayor Thomas Tobin who served alongside Murphy for more than two decades. “He was an accomplished athlete and coach and was a strong supporter of our youth, especially Little League and Babe Ruth.
“He was accessible to anyone at any time and in my mind he was a true people person who was just fun to be around. He loved to interact with village residents, and help them when he could and he will be sorely missed.”
Murphy was born and raised in Albany but he lived most of his adult life in the village. He and his wife Linda, a member of the Colonie Town Board, met in 1963 and were married a year later. They recently celebrated 56 years of marriage and together raised two sons, Sean and Ryan.
As Tobin said, Murphy was a “people person” and that is how he is being remembered.
“Jack has been a friend of mine for many years and he was always willing to lend a hand to anyone in need,” said Town of Colonie Supervisor Paula Mahan. “He devoted his life to the Village of Colonie residents, especially to the youth who he mentored through sports. He will be truly missed and my heart and prayers to out to his family.”
“I was saddened to learn of Jack’s passing as he was a truly great man,” said Colonie resident and CEO and president of the United Way, Pete Gannon. “He was quick with a smile and a compliment and you could slide into a conversation with him easily if you’d seen him a day ago or a year ago. You will be missed sir.”
Also in 2020, the village lost Frank Leak, who was elected mayor the same year Murphy was elected to the Board of Trustees. Leak stepped down in 2019 because of health issues and died a little more than a year later at the age of 93.
“Between Frank and Jack it is quite a loss for our village,” Tobin said. “The two worked well together and accomplished a lot for the village. We are moving forward on the foundation they helped establish.”
His post on the Board of Trustees will remain vacant until March 16, when villages across the state are slated to hold elections. The election of March 2020 was postponed due to COVID and Tobin was not elected mayor until September.
The village has been run by “Your Village Party” for decades and elected officials there do not adhere to the traditional Democrat or Republican labels.
Services for Murphy were private due to COVID-19 restrictions and a public memorial service will be held at a later date.
In lieu of flowers, donations in Jack Murphy’s name can be made to Christian Brothers Academy, 12 Airline Dr., Albany, NY, 12205.