Miriam Harlow Murphy, born on March 21st, 1937, passed away peacefully on September 4th, 2020 at Rivermead in Peterborough, NH with her husband, partner, and hiking companion, A. Richard Murphy, by her side.
Known by her family and friends as Mimi, she showed her kind and effervescent spirit from childhood as the eldest of two daughters born to Rachel Crosby and Andrew Ellis Harlow. They resided first in New Rochelle, NY before moving to Pelham where Mimi graduated from Pelham High School and then went on to Tufts University. It was at Tufts, following in her parents’ footsteps, that Mimi met her future husband during her first year orientation, graduating in 1958. Mimi and Dick were married on July 26, 1958.
Mimi had many gifts, but chief among these were her devotion to her family and her instinct to build community wherever she settled over a lifetime that would take her from New England to Hong Kong. The Murphy home was a hub of activity, with Mimi raising three children through multiple moves, connecting the family to local churches, town public school systems, scouting, and most importantly, making a warm and welcoming home. Through her influence the Murphys built a cottage on Black Cat Island on Lake Winnipesaukee, providing a gathering place for family and friends and access to Mimi’s beloved New Hampshire Lakes and Mountain Region. She introduced her children to skiing and hiking throughout the White Mountains and morning swims on the lake. One particular memory she liked to recall occurred during a cold snap at the Lake, a vast sheet of ice before snowfall, when she skated with her children around Black Cat as far as Three Mile Island. When Mimi could see the expanse of the Broads opening up in the distance she said, “We’re like Hans Brinker!”.
As her children grew and left home, Mimi was never alone, organizing a paddle tennis group and potluck dinners. She remembered friends and family member’s birthdays, anniversaries, and accomplishments; and her hand-drawn Christmas cards were an annual connection to the many families she met over her life, near and far, Two of her passions, singing and quilting, brought her joy and inspired others. Mimi and Dick sang with the First Presbyterian Church Choir which took several trips to Europe, singing majestic choral pieces from the 19th and 20th century in some of the world’s most significant cathedrals. She was also a patron of the New Hampshire Music Festival and sang in its Choral Group each summer. Quilting was always an expression of Mimi’s love and kindness. The intricate appliqué quilts she organized were first for her parent’s 40th, where she asked family and friends to participate by contributing their own unique square, then using the same approach for each of her children’s weddings and the churches where she worshiped. Her quilt for each of her eight grandchildren stands alone as her personal act of love.
Hiking replenished Mimi’s soul and, along with singing, she believed it brought her closer to God. She returned to the White Mountains where she and Dick made their home on Gould Hill. Realizing the number of peaks they had climbed with their children, she and Dick undertook the challenge to complete hikes up the remaining forty-eight 4,000 foot peaks recognized by the Appalachian Mountain Club. She completed her last summit, Owl’s Head, after fording several streams and enduring a 13 mile hike on 9/11 in 2015, accompanied by her son and two granddaughters. This determination was recognized by the AMC with a standing ovation at their 2016 annual meeting when they learned they were the oldest couple to complete this mark since records were maintained
Mimi was predeceased by her younger sister, Susan Harlow Howe. She was an active supporter of her children as they began their own families and is survived by her husband of 62 years, A. Richard Murphy, her son, John, wife Tucker, and children Will (Sophia) and Rachel, her daughter, Debbie, husband Stu, and children Abbey (Ted), Paul, and Anne, and her son, Bill, wife Sarah, and children Carolyn, Ben, and Kate.
Mimi will be remembered at a private service on September 19, 2020 in Hopkinton, NH. The family has requested that gifts in her memory be made to the Appalachian Mountain Club or the First Congregational Church of Hopkinton, NH Choir Fund.
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