by Lucie Roy
Donald Murphy passed away June 3, 2020 at the age of 96 years. The Interment took place on Aug. 28 at the Morinville Community Cemetery.
Don was predeceased by his wife, Marie Antoinette “Toni” Found- Murphy in 2018.
Murphy served in WWII, was awarded by order of the President of the Republic of France, the rank of Knight of the French National Order of the Legion of Honour had a catering business and worked 33 years as Commissionaire.
Murphy was one of the last serving WWII veteran commissionaires in Canada.
Commissionaires Northern Alberta Division Chief Executive Officer Colonel John Slater said the song, “Don’t Worry Be happy”, was written for Murphy because that was Don’s life.
“A Great Canadian,” and “our friend, our comrade, fellow commissionaire,” is how friend Slater described Murphy.
Slater said Don left home at the age of 17 and joined the Royal Canadian Navy. He served in the Pacific, Africa and European Theaters, including the Normandy Invasion and just that in itself set Don aside from his peers.
Those who knew him know Don always said, “I didn’t do anything special; it is just what we did in those days.”
Slater said when Don came back from war, he went back to school and had a career catering. “He helped build this country, helped build a Distant Early Warning Line or DEW Line up North and hotels and camp kitchens,” Slater said. “[He] did that for a career and in the 70s he joined the Corps of Commissionaires where he worked for 33 years until June 2014, when he retired at the age of 91. Exceptional Canadian. He did that but Don never worried. He was happy.”
By order of the President of the Republic of France, Murphy was awarded the rank of Knight of the French National Order of the Legion of Honour.
A letter he received reads, ” the distinction (the Legion of Honour) is the highest national order of France, and illustrates the profound gratitude that France would like to express to you. It is awarded in recognition of your personal involvement in the liberation of our country during WWII. Through you, France remembers the sacrifice of all of your compatriots who came to liberate French soil.”
As required by Canadian regulations regarding the decoration of Canadian citizens by foreign states, the Canadian authorities had to provide official approval for the presentation and wearing of the insignia.
Murphy was a 37-year member of the Legion and actively engaged in numerous events. He spoke at the Veterans Affairs Canada Boots of Remembrance Departure Ceremony commemorating the 75th Anniversary of D-Day and the Battle of Normandy held at the Jefferson Armoury in Edmonton April 2019.
In 2017 Murphy was a guest at the Battle of Vimy Ridge- 100th Anniversary Dinner held Apr. 9 at the St. Albert Royal Canadian Legion Br. 271.
In 2018 Murphy joined fellow comrades of the Morinville Legion Branch 176 (above) who gathered at the Morinville Cemetery to honour the sacrifice of one of Morinville’s WWI soldiers, Leo Thibault.
Morinville Legion Br. 176 Past-President Claude Phaneuf said Murphy was the last WWII veteran on their Branch membership register.
Members of the Royal Canadian Legion (RCL) Br. 176, Legion Honour Guard, RCL AB NWT Command District 8 Commander Bob Peterson, members of the Corps of Commissionaires, Northern Alberta Division, friends and family gathered to honour the memory of Don Murphy. Words of Introduction were provided by Pastor Greg Fraser, Scripture readings and Interment by Michelle Cure, laying of the wreath by the Legion was followed by the placing of the poppies.
Donuts were served with the sharing of stories and memories and how Murphy got the nickname of Donuts.
Don will be remembered by his Grandchildren Ben and Libby; Son-in-Law Rolf Hopkinson, siblings Stewart (Mary) Murphy, Betty Papke as well as numerous extended family, friends and staff at both 3rd Canadian Division (formerly Land Forces Western Area) Headquarters and the Corps of Commissionaires.