Obituary: Jean Novak Murphy


Jean Novak Murphy, a resident of Port Washington for 63 years, passed away peacefully on February 14, 2019, in Marietta, GA. She was born in the bedroom of a farmhouse on April 4, 1932, in Claverack, NY, before her family moved to Hudson, NY.  When Jean entered kindergarten she spoke only Hungarian, her parents’ native language.  A gifted student, she quickly learned English and skipped 2nd grade. Jean gained her work ethic at an early age helping her parents on weekends picking produce on friends’ farms. She excelled in school and was first in her family to attend college.

After graduating from Green Mountain College, Jean worked for IBM and was one of the first women commuters to IBM’s Kingston, NY, office. She married I. Craig Murphy and in 1955 moved to Port Washington as one of the original homeowners in Manhasset Bay Estates. Per the norm of that period, she was a stay-at-home mom, raising her family and attending her children’s activities. Mrs. Murphy was active in the PTA and served as both a Cub Scout Den Mother and Brownie Troop Leader. Later, when her children were in college she wrote them letters weekly, if not daily. During her son’s years at West Point, she hosted many tailgates and picnics for his fellow cadets who were far from their homes.  Jean was instrumental in the formation of the West Point Parents Club of Long Island, where she served as President

When her children entered high school, she reentered the workforce, first as a 1970 census taker and then as an English as a Second Language (ESL) tutor in the Port Washington School District. She began full time employment again as an office manager for Nicolai Door Co. before joining the Manhasset Mail, editing classified ads and as a restaurant reviewer. For those who read the Manhasset Mail’s classified section they would have noticed 2 -3 cryptic classified ads which were actually encouraging messages to her children. After the Mail sold, Jean became the Adult Education Program Coordinator for the Manhasset School District earning a reputation for attention to detail. Over 22 years of service, Jean coordinated hundreds of adult education programs. After retiring in 2004, she became an active member with the Manhasset School District Retirees organization.

She was most proud of her three “rotten kids” and her “spoiled grandchildren” whom she called her shining stars.  Known to her college friends and grandchildren as “GiGi”, her work friends knew her as “The General”. They enjoyed her “New York” sense of humor and her strong loyalty to their friendship. Jean spent many days at her beloved MBEA beach with or without her “beach bum” friends and always loved to visit Jones Beach which she claimed “the best beach in the world.” She enjoyed reading the New York Times & Newsday, completing NY Times crossword puzzles, competing with Jeopardy contestants, gardening and cooking Hungarian specialties.

Jean was preceded in death by parents, Stephen and Margaret Novak; brother, Steve Novak and his wife Mary. She is survived by her children, Lieutenant Colonel (USA, Ret.) Craig (Anne) Murphy of Puyallup, WA, Brenda (Keller) Taylor of New Hope, PA, and Dana Murphy of Marietta, GA; grandchildren Stephanie, Natalie, Kathryn and Kristopher; sister-in-law Pat Novak; numerous nieces, nephews and grand dogs Sophie, Belle and Daisy.

Her family thanks Dr. Holly Bienenstock, Dr. Charles Conte, Dr. Jason Karp, Dr. John Sheehan and their staff for their care over the years.

Friends are invited to say goodbye to Jean from 4-7 PM on May 17 at Fairchild Sons Funeral Chapel, 1570 Northern Blvd., Manhasset. The family is having a private interment. In lieu of flowers, her family requests donation to the Guide Dog Foundation for the Blind, Smithtown at

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