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Swede Hill taxidermist was artist and magician

September 19, 2018

Albert M. Murphy

To Albert M. Murphy, a taxidermist in Swede Hill, Hempfield, a good taxidermist is part artist, part seamstress and part magician, said his granddaughter, Jessica Kunkle of Hempfield.

“You had to be a magician because people shot the animal then they want you to make magic to make it look nice,” Kunkle said.

Kunkle said she assisted her grandfather in his shop, Murphy’s Taxidermy, which he operated out of his home for 43 years.

“He called me his ‘right-hand man,’ ” Kunkle joked.

Mr. Murphy, 81, died Thursday, Aug. 23, 2018, at Excela Westmoreland Hospital, Greensburg.

He was born July 19, 1937, in Latrobe, a son of the late Clyde F. and Edna M. Lentz Murphy. He graduated from Latrobe High School and married his high school sweetheart, JoAnn Fox, in 1956 when he was 18.

He was a self-taught taxidermist because he wanted to mount a deer he shot that had a white spot on its forehead, Kunkle said. He later became a licensed taxidermist and opened his own business.

He loved nature and was an avid hunter, as are other members of his family, Kunkle said.

“Our whole family is hunters. The only thing he loved more than hunting was his family,” Kunkle said.

Mr. Murphy retired as a foreman for Peoples Natural Gas, where he worked for many years.

A drummer in the high school marching band, he had a passion for music. He was a drummer in rock ’n roll bands that played in local clubs, including the Briar Hill Gang.

He raised horses on his farm and was a former president of the Westmoreland Trail Riders, a horse-riding group. He had a team of horses and took them to local festivals, Kunkle said.

Mr. Murphy loved his old Dodge pickup truck and took it to many car cruises, where he “won a lot of `best of shows’ with it,” Kunkle said.

Murphy was a member of the Lodge 225 F&AM, the Scottish Rite of Coudersport, the Youngwood Sportsmen’s Club, the Lincoln Heights Civic Association and the National Rifle Association. He was a member of Otterbein United Methodist Church, Greensburg.

Mr. Murphy was preceded in death by his son, Douglas J. Murphy; two brothers, Clyde and Paul Murphy; and two sisters, Marilyn Stence and Joyce Wilcox.

In addition to his wife, he also is survived by three sons, Robert and Tacy Murphy, David and Barb Murphy and Timothy and Bonnie Murphy, all of Swede Hill; a daughter, Diane and her husband, Chris Keller, of Swede Hill; five grandchildren; four great-grandchildren; two brothers and a a number of nieces and nephews.

Friends were received at the Barnhart Funeral Home, 505 E. Pittsburgh St., Greensburg, where a funeral service was be held at 11 a.m. Tuesday in the funeral home. Interment will follow in Middletown Cemetery. Memorial donations may be made to the American Diabetes Association or to the Multiple Sclerosis Society.

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