Joan Girard Murphy, 90, of North Wilmington died on February 2, 2023 after a long illness. She is survived by her four children Elizabeth Topp, Kathryn Thompson, William F. “Frank” Murphy III (Anne) and Byron Murphy (Jeanette) and their families, including Joan’s eleven grandchildren, and by her sister, Babette Girard of Los Osos, California. She was preceded in death by her husband of nearly fifty-three years, William F. Murphy Jr., and by her brother, Robert W. Girard of Winston-Salem, North Carolina.
Joan was born in Baltimore, Maryland on March 27, 1932, on Easter Sunday, to Elizabeth D. and Byron P. Girard. She attended the Friends School of Baltimore and took dance lessons at the Peabody Institute. The family moved to Winston-Salem, North Carolina where she graduated from Salem Academy in 1950. She then attended Pembroke College, the women’s college of Brown University, graduating from Brown with a degree in chemistry in 1954. At Brown, Joan was active in Brownbrokers, a student-run musical theater group.
After graduation, Joan accepted a position as a chemist with the DuPont Company at the Savannah River Plant near Augusta, Georgia. The facility made materials used in the production of nuclear energy and nuclear weapons, including plutonium and tritium. At the Savannah River Plant, Joan met Bill Murphy, who was her supervisor and would become her husband. The couple met many of their life-long friends at Savannah River.
Joan and Bill married on October 13, 1956 at St. Leo’s Catholic Church in Winston-Salem and settled in Kinston, North Carolina where their first child, Elizabeth, was born. The family moved to Nashville, Tennessee in 1958 when Bill accepted a position in DuPont’s Textile Fibers Division. The couple’s children Kathryn and Frank were born in Tennessee. In 1963, the family moved to Wilmington, to the house on Swinnen Drive where they welcomed their youngest child, Byron, and that was to be Joan’s home for more than fifty years.
As a mother and homemaker, Joan delighted in supporting her children and nurturing their abilities. A skillful seamstress, she designed and made draperies for the home and clothing for herself and her children. Later, as her children grew older, she became a tax preparer for H&R Block and enjoyed longstanding relationships with many of her clients. She served as Treasurer and member of the Finance committee for her church, St. David’s Episcopal, and was a long-standing member of a local investment club. She taught classes in tax preparation and personal finance. Joan enjoyed vacations at the beach, dance classes, birdwatching, gardening, tutoring in local elementary schools, teaching her granddaughters to knit, occasional Broadway shows, needlework, cryptograms, puzzles of all kinds, and a nightly cocktail, most recently a perfect martini.
The family is grateful to all those who loved and supported Joan throughout her long life. Special thanks to Father Brad Hinton and the faith community at St. David’s Episcopal Church, to Joan’s in-home caregivers and helpers, to the staff at Cokesbury Village, and to Dr. Shanthi Shakamuri, MD, and the staff at Christiana Care Hospital 4D who cared for Joan during her final illness. The family remembers with gratitude Dr. Yan Koyfman, MD, who performed the surgery that enabled Joan to live to see her grandchildren.
A funeral service will be held at 3:00pm, Saturday, February 11 at St. David’s Episcopal Church.
In lieu of flowers, the family requests that donations be made to St. David’s Episcopal Church, 2320 Grubb Road Wilmington, Delaware 19810, or to The Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research, P.O. Box 5014, Hagerstown, MD 21741https://give.michaeljfox.org/give/421686/#!/donation/checkout