Ernie Murphy Christmas program set for this weekend

Published 7:45 am Thursday, December 2, 2010

Ernie Murphy loved Christmas songs, and would have loved to have organized a Christmas program at a church. Unfortunately, Murphy succumbed to cancer in February of 2009. His memory was honored last year when his family  hosted a memorial Christmas concert that was well attended.

“The church was packed and everyone seemed to enjoy it,” said Clara Murphy, Ernie’s widow. “We were asked immediately if we could do another.”

This year’s Ernie Murphy Memorial Concert takes place at Crane Community Chapel on Saturday, Dec. 4 at 7 p.m. For the second time, Ernie and Clara’s daughters, Cathy, Laura and Cheryl, along with Ernie and Clara’s grandchildren and family friends, will put on a free concert to honor Ernie’s memory and to raise money for cancer patients.

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“He was a very giving person and he loved this community,” Clara said. “He was born and raised here, did all of his work in this community, and just really enjoyed giving.”

For 37 years, Ernie played piano and organ regularly at nine area churches, and he substituted at other churches, too. According to Clara, Ernie played for nine churches in the area. Ernie first started playing for Crane Community Chapel in 1972, where he and Clara attended for a number of years.

According to Clara, Ernie had seen a program at a church in Mankato called “Singing Christmas Tree,” which he fell in love with. For several years, Ernie talked about organizing his own Christmas program at a church in town. Unfortunately, Ernie was diagnosed with bladder cancer towards the end of 2008. He died soon after from complications, although his doctors thought the cancer was treatable.

“He was such a pleasant guy,” Shirley Cahill, a friend of the family said. “Everybody really misses him.”

Ernie’s daughters felt the best way to honor their father was to organize a Christmas program in his honor, where freewill donations would be taken and given to cancer research.

Ernie’s family and friends are continuing the tradition this year, with a program called “God Speaking,” which tells the Christmas story using modern day examples, according to Clara. Freewill donations will be given to Humanities in Medicine, a Mayo Clinic program that helps patients suffering from debilitating illnesses and their families through events like music performances, theater and dance events, workshops, films and other arts and history programs.

While his friends and family still miss Ernie, Clara knows Ernie would love the programs they’ve put on for him.

“I think he’d be very happy with it,” Clara said. “He’d probably wish he could sing and play with them.”