John Murphy


April 27, 1943 — Sept. 24, 2018



ALGONA — John Murphy was born on April 27, 1943, on the family farm in Algona, the son of Pat and Luella (Elbert) Murphy. He attended country school for one year and then St. Cecelia’s Academy and graduated from Bishop Garrigan High School in 1961. He went on to attend Hamilton’s Business College and attained an Associate Degree in Accounting. He married Norma Pfeffer in 1968 and they later divorced in 2007. Three children were born to this marriage, William, Michael and Bridget.


John worked as a bookkeeper in Charles City and in Jefferson, for Harrison Ford. He later sold Prudential Insurance and then found his true calling operating heavy machinery for Mark T. McGuire construction. He and his life-long school mate and friend, Oscar J. Froehlich purchased a Caterpillar and equipment in 1971; and then due to the untimely death of Oscar he established Murphy Construction. His brother Pat started working for him in 1975 upon graduating and later his brother Bryan joined them. He established Murphy Farm Drainage in 1973. In 1978 they formed Murphy Brothers Construction and built homes and other buildings when they could no longer tile because of weather. He later went on to hire Daniel Prueschl upon his graduation.


During the winter months in 1981, he obtained his Real Estate and Insurance License and that following year his Broker’s License. In 1988, he began to manage government financed housing corporations and it became such a successful business he sold his tiling operation. In two years he was Management Agent and CFO for 59 non-profit housing corporations throughout the State of Iowa. He turned the business over to his three children in 2012 when he semi-retired.


He had many hobbies during his lifetime. Overhauling old International tractors and at one time had 46 running. He enjoyed collecting Red Wing Stoneware and had a large collection of many different pieces. Hunting was a favorite pastime when he was younger. He still enjoyed fishing and spending many weeks in Canada at the Devil Rapids Camp over the last 40 years. He loved anything to do with the outdoors, especially if it was in the woods. He loved working with metal of any kind and did a lot of welding. He also perfected working with copper and made some very fine productions that would rival the boys in the Tennessee Hills. In 2010, he found a partner and companion in Connie Bird, who loved the outdoors as much as he did. Together they would comb for arrowheads, antler sheds, go ditch diving for asparagus and hunt for the elusive morel mushrooms. They spent time each year in Florida hunting shark teeth and would make their stop in one of their favorite places, New Orleans, before, during and after the Mardis Gras. Together they explored as much land, fields, woods and places they could cram in to their lives.


He served his church in St. Benedict as president of the Finance Board and also the School Board, he served his community as president of the Board of Review and also on the Condemnation Board. He served Bishop Garrigan High School as Board President for many years. He also served on numerous other boards throughout the years. He loved his family and friends and would stop doing everything to help them out. He will be dearly missed.


John is survived by his partner and companion, Connie Bird; his children, Bill (Kim) Murphy, Michael (Emily) Murphy and Bridget (Tyler) Atkinson, all of Algona; five grandchildren, Kellen, Reagan, Owen, Ethan and Andrew. He is also survived by siblings, Betty (Bill) Blake of Omaha, NE, Mary (Bob) McGrath of Sun City West, AZ, Judy (Tom) Brown of Sun City West, AZ, Rose Kain of Algona, Barb (Chuck) Geilenfeld of Oelwein, Bryan (Manita) Murphy of Algona, Kathy (Steve) Nelson of Algona and Pat (Sue) Murphy of Algona; and many nieces and nephews. He was preceded in death by his parents, Pat and Luella; and a brother, Billy in 1955.


In lieu of flowers memorials may be directed to St. Cecelia Catholic Church or Hospice of the Heartland.


Online condolences may be left at


Kossuth County Advance

14 E. Nebraska St.

Algona, IA 50511  

Phone: (515) 295-3535

Fax: (515) 295-7217

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