WILMINGTON — Local farmer and longtime Wilmington City Schools (WCS) Board of Education member Stephen “Steve” Murphy died suddenly on Friday while vacationing in Tennessee.
Murphy, 68, who presently was serving as the board president, had been a school board member since 2002. He was an owner-operator of Murphy Farms, a 3,500-acre grain and livestock farm.
In a Welcome Back Staff Video shown Monday to WCS employees who were returning for the 2020-21 academic year, WCS Superintendent Melinda “Mindy” McCarty-Stewart stated, “The Wilmington City Schools suffered a major loss last week when Steve Murphy passed away. We were fortunate to have Steve serve the Wilmington Schools as a board member for over 18 years.
“Steve Murphy was a tried and true Hurricane fan. He truly loved the people of Wilmington. He served in his role as a strong advocate for all students,” said the superintendent.
“He respected and appreciated every person who worked for, volunteered for and cheered for the students of Wilmington,” she added.
McCarty-Stewart continued, “Wilmington is a better place because Steve served his community with pride; he made decisions with the best interest of the students in mind. He was highly respected for his wisdom, his sound advice and for how deeply he cared for this community.”
WCS Board of Education Vice President Marty Beaugard Sr. said Monday that when he started on the board seven years ago, Murphy was his mentor.
“Steve took me under his wing. I have a lot of respect for him. He was a great man and he loved our school system,” said Beaugard.
In his board member biography on the WCS website, Murphy indicated his most important accomplishment while a board member was helping with the district’s financial survival and eventual recovery after DHL left the city. This was accomplished, he noted, “without having to ask for more taxpayer money.”
Prior to serving on the board, Murphy served on the building committee for the middle school in 1992.
In terms of Hurricane athletics, he helped chair fundraising for Alumni Field. He also was a longtime active member of the WHS Boosters, and for decades he could be seen on the chain crew at football games.
His two sons and two daughters were all WHS graduates.
Brown Funeral Home in Wilmington is handling arrangements for the family.
According to the Ohio School Boards Association (OSBA) website, a board must act to fill a vacancy within 30 days.
The OSBA states, “There are no procedural requirements other than the deadlines for board action. Many boards have adopted procedures in board policy that should be followed when a vacancy occurs,” and “oral or written applications can be suggested or required by the board …”
McCarty-Stewart said the board of education is grieving at this time, but they will be communicating soon about the process for filling the vacant position.