When Terence and Tracy Murphy were choosing a place to raise their family, they decided to stick with what they knew and stay in Seaford. On Saturday, John will be recognized for his longtime commitment to both the community and his country, and will be grand marshal of the Seaford Homecoming parade.
Murphy, 58, attended St. William the Abbot School and graduated from Seaford High School in 1973. He joined the Army at 17 and was on active duty for three years, which included a deployment to Germany. When he returned home, he became a mailman, working out of the Seaford post office for 11 years.
He attended law school at night, and also joined the Army Reserves. When he finished he law degree, he became a judge advocate general for the reserves. His first job as a lawyer was as a prosecutor in the Nassau County Traffic and Parking Violations Agency in Hempstead.
Murphy eventually became a law secretary in County Court, working for Judges Jack Mackston and Jerald Carter. On his third try, he won a seat in Nassau County District Court, a post he has held for four years. Next month he will appear on the ballot for a judgeship in County Court, where he would handle felony criminal cases.
He is the presiding judge of the Veterans Treatment Court, which he described as an extremely rewarding post. Handling cases of veterans facing criminal charges, Murphy said he seeks to get them the professional help they need. Many veterans who appear before him, he said, are not bad people, but struggle with their reintegration into civilian life.
Growing up, Murphy never envisioned that he would be a judge. His father, George, was a town councilman, state senator and a Supreme Court judge for 20 years, in addition to owning a law practice in Seaford. “I never thought I would follow in his footsteps,” Murphy said, “but life has a funny way of guiding you to where you’re supposed to be.” He also teaches in the Criminal Justice Department at Molloy College.
He recently returned from a nine-month deployment to Kuwait — his last overseas tour, because he will soon retire from the Army Reserves. He was in Bosnia in 2002, and Iraq in 2005.
His service, he said, has been harder on his family than on him. “As a soldier,” he said, “I joined a group of others in the same circumstance. We bond and carry one another through the trials and tribulations of deployed military service.”
Murphy said he is glad to be home permanently, and to provide his family with the stability they deserve. He credits his wife, the director of financial operations for Forest Hills Hospital, for her strength and leadership during his deployments. They have three sons, Patrick and Matthew, who are graduates of Seaford High School, and Kevin, who is in 10th grade.
Patrick is a senior at Hofstra, majoring in broadcast journalism, and Matthew is a freshman at SUNY Maritime, where he is a member of the Regiment and a kicker for the football team. Kevin is on Seaford’s junior varsity football squad.
Murphy’s in-laws, Bernie and Dorothy Kluender, live with the family, and his parents, George and Theresa, still live in Seaford. John was the third of nine children — six boys and three girls — and played football and lacrosse in high school.
He is a past commander of Seaford American Legion Post 1132, and coached CYO basketball at St. William the Abbot. He has always wanted to serve his community, he said. “It’s important, because activism breeds familiarity and loyalty to the place where we live and many work,” he said. “What it also does is it promotes a stability in the community.”
Thomas Condon, the Seaford district’s athletic director, said that Murphy’s commitment to the nation and community was commendable, and noted that Murphy has taken part in the middle school’s career day and the Harbor School’s read-aloud day.
Janine Kolodinsky, president of the Seaford Booster Club, said the organization wanted Murphy to be grand marshal last year, when his son was the kicker on the football team, but he was overseas. “We thought he was deserving to be our grand marshal for a number of years,” Kolodinsky said, adding that it finally worked out this year.
She noted that this year’s Homecoming theme is America Through the Decades, and what better choice for grand marshal than someone who served America? Murphy’s commitment to his country and community, Kolodinsky said, bring pride to Seaford.
Murphy said he wants to show young people in the community that they have responsibility to give back to the place that has given so much to them. “All the volunteers in the Seaford community allow this community to continue to grow and blossom,” he said.
He plans to call Seaford home for a long time, because, he said, it is full of honest, friendly, hard-working people.
Homecoming was rescheduled from Oct. 11. The parade begins at 3 p.m. at the Seaford Public Library, and heads to the high school. At 5 p.m., Seaford faces off against Mineola.
“I’m looking forward to a beautiful day, great fanfare and community participation,” Murphy said, “and resounding victory by the Viking football team.”