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Dedham Finance Director Passes Away, Officials Offer Reflection

Friends and family will celebrate the life of Mariellen Murphy on Saturday in Quincy.

Mariellen Murphy. Credit: Courtesy
Mariellen Murphy. Credit: Courtesy

A former Dedham official passed away this week after a long battle with cancer. 

Officials learned of Finance Director Mariellen Murphy's passing on Monday at a going-away reception for Former Town Administrator Bill Keegan, whose last day in the role was Friday, April 11. Keegan wrote a note of remembrance, which can be read below. 

Friends and family are invited to a Celebration of Life in honor of Murphy on Saturday, April 19 from 1:30 to 4 p.m. at Granite Links at Quarry Hills, 100 Quarry Hills Road, Quincy. 

To express notes of sympathy or condolences, click here

Editor's Note: The following letter was written in Murhpy's memory by former Dedham Town Administrator Bill Keegan and submitted to Dedham Patch by Interim Town Administrator Nancy Baker.

On Monday, April 14, the Endicott Estate was host once again for another party. This time it was an opportunity for the Dedham Community to say their final farewells to its second Town Administrator as he prepared to depart for his new position in Foxborough. The evening proved to be a great time for all who could attend and the outpouring of support and thanks were what Dedham continues to be all about. 

As the night wore on the time arrived when the Town Administrator gave his farewell remarks to all the guests. The list of thank yous was long and well deserving to all who provided the Town Administrator with a most memorable professional and personal experience. Last but not least on that list were some complimentary comments about a lady who was very special to the Town Administrator but who could not attend that night due to some serious medical challenges that she endured over the past week that resulted in her being hospitalized. The Town Administrator's voice broke with emotion as he described Mariellen Murphy as one of the best Municipal Finance Directors in the business and who was his true friend in every aspect of the term.

Little did I know but at almost the same precise time that I offered these remarks, Mariellen Murphy took her last breath and departed this world.  Mariellen Murphy passed away on Monday evening when she succumbed to her nearly eight-year battle with cancer.

Mariellen leaves behind her loving husband Paul and their beautiful daughter Kristen. She also leaves behind a supportive staff, numerous friends and relatives and some of her closest colleagues in the Town of Dedham. Mariellen Murphy was just 56 years old when she passed; a proud Irishwoman who boasted about the fact that she was the only true Irishwoman in America where her birthday was on St. Patrick's Day. She arrived in Dedham in 2002 by way of Massport and the Mass. Department of Revenue where she once headed the Bureau of Accounts. She was by anyone's account, one of the smartest municipal finance persons we have ever come to know. In Dedham she was the Town's first Director of Finance and she was my first Department Head appointment. As former Selectwoman Marie-Louise Kehoe said to me recently, "the Holy Ghost must have touched you on the shoulder when you decided to appoint her". That's not far from the truth as you look back on her career of accomplishments in Dedham one could say we were all blessed to have her with us. Mariellen had a unique ability to walk in a room and change the direction of a discussion with just a few bursts of her Irish wit and her uncanny analysis of a situation. She is the only department head I have ever hired who could set me straight with a few choice words and get away with it without getting fired. Why? Because on any given day, she was still the smartest person in the room and I knew it.  

Mariellen's accomplishments included 11 balanced budgets, three bond-rating upgrades--including to Triple A--and the publishing of the town's first Comprehensive Annual Financial Report (CAFR) which recently received recognition from the Government Finance Officers Association. GFOA, as it is more commonly referred to, is the single most recognized municipal finance association in the country.

The legacy that Mariellen leaves behind will not soon be replaced.

She and Nancy Baker were my closest advisors in Dedham but when it came to finance issues--Mariellen was the final word. I can't tell you how often I said to employees or Board Members, "We need to check with Mariellen first before we do another thing.” Because we all knew that if we could not afford it--we could go no farther. 

Mariellen was always working on Dedham issues- even from her bedside where she would text me or e-mail with multiple issues that she wanted updates on so that she could remain in the middle of Dedham issues. However, she always found time to spend with her family because she also knew how important that was. She would often say to me "make sure you spend time with your family because before you know it they will be all grown up and you never want to say you missed something." She lived by that philosophy and it was clearly reflected in some of her final thoughts that she shared with me. She said that all she wanted to do was to see her daughter graduate from college. Kristen is currently a Junior at Stonehill College in Easton. Stonehill was Mariellen's alma mater so having her daughter graduate from her college gave it special meaning. While we know that wish did not come true by virtue of her recent passing, we all know it will absolutely come true in about 13 months as Kristen continues on to fulfill her mother's special wish. 

Paul was one of the most dedicated husband's on the planet. He was always by Mariellen's side and constantly provided her the level of support she needed to carry on in life given her challenging condition. He, like Mariellen, never stopped smiling even though we all knew how painful it must have been to see how debilitated Mariellen had become. Even when we saw Paul and Kristen at the service, they both had big smiles on their faces as they both knew that's how Mariellen would have wanted it. 

We all feel blessed to have known such a wonderful person. Mariellen Murphy was my advisor, my critic but more importantly she was my friend. The world of municipal finance lost a giant this week.

We will never forget you Mariellen and we are all better people after having come to know you. May God bless you and your family and always keep you in the palm of his hand.

The family wishes to invite Mariellen’s friends to a Celebration of Life, being held on Saturday, April 19, 2014, from 1:30 to 4 p.m. at Granite Links at Quarry Hills, 100 Quarry Hills Road, Quincy.

Most sincerely,

Bill Keegan
Former Town Administrator

Lisa Ingemi April 17, 2014 at 02:20 PM
Kind words shared by our friend, Bill Keegan

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