(Margaret) Jeanne Murphy


1926 - 2015

Jeanne Murphy passed away on June 3, 2015 at Willamette Valley Medical Center in McMinnville, Oregon after a brief illness. She was 88 years old.

Jeanne was born August 5, 1926 in Aberdeen, Washington to Michael and Victoria (Sutor) Zembal, the youngest of eleven children. Named Margaret by her siblings, she always hated that name and was known by family and friends as Jeanne, or to co-workers as "Murphy." She was raised and attended school in Aberdeen before moving off the family farm to attend nurses' training at Providence Hospital School of Nursing in Seattle in 1944. Simultaneously, she joined the United States Cadet Nurse Corps, hoping to join 5 of her siblings serving in the Army in World War II, after graduating. Although the war ended before her Senior Cadet period started, she worked as a Registered Nurse in Washington, Maryland, Illinois, Kentucky and finally, California where she retired from San Antonio Community Hospital, Upland in 1991.

In 1952, she married James "Jim" Murphy of Montesano, Washington. It was after they divorced in 1970 that she moved to California where she lived until 2003, across the street from her sister, Tillie. At that point she and Tillie moved to McMinnville, Oregon to be closer to family.

After retiring as an RN, she volunteered at a program for women who had survived domestic violence. Having taught herself to use a computer on an Apple IIc in the 1980's, she taught the clients word processing and computer skills. She also volunteered for several years at SOVA Food Pantry in Ontario, California. After moving to McMinnville in 2003, she began volunteering at St. Vincent de Paul's Food Pantry in McMinnville. In 2007, she was diagnosed with macular degeneration, but even as her vision deteriorated and she could no longer help food pantry customers shop, she was grateful that staff found tasks she could accomplish. She took several months off in early 2014 after she broke her neck, but then resumed volunteering there until shortly before her death. In her words, if she gave up volunteering, there would be nothing left for her to do and life would have no purpose.

Before her eyesight deteriorated, she spent her free time baking cookies, cakes and pies from scratch for family and friends--always sampling a piece first to make sure it met her standards for quality.

Continuing in her resolve to help others, she had long ago signed up as an organ donor. The Oregon eye bank, administered by Lions Vision Gift of Portland, gratefully accepted her eyes to advance research on blinding diseases.

She is survived by her daughters, Erin Murphy of Woodland, California, Denise Murphy of McMinnville, Oregon, sister Polly Lehmann of Walla Walla, Washington and brother, Ed Zembal of New Mexico as well as numerous nieces and nephews in Oregon and Washington.