Veteran officer heads home

Published 10:31 am Thursday, December 7, 2023

By Jan Runions

As a veteran law enforcement officer, Steve Murphy spent most of his adult life in careers that meant putting your life on the line every moment of every workday. ‘Murph’ as his friends called him, appeared to be a rough-and-tumble sort of guy. Underneath that muscular armor though was a gentle heart that was often firmly attached to the sleeve.

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Murphy was 55 years of age when he died Friday, Dec. 1 after what was described as a “sudden medical issue.” By all reports, he was a man of many talents and ambitions. Upon graduation from high school, ‘Murph’ created a computer business, handling every aspect from selling, repairing and even setting them up for businesses.

Murphy delighted in his position as a squadron commander for the Civil Air Patrol – he was an avid pilot and almost nothing was more enjoyable to him than flying the clouds as a fixed wing airplane jockey and helicopter pilot.

Murphy spent a good stint at the Claiborne County Sheriff’s Office working part time inside the jail while maintaining a part time job as a pipe insulator – all while caring for his ailing father.

He even found time to earn an Associate Degree in Criminal Justice. ‘Murph’ glided onto the Tazewell Police Department roster, where he stayed several years prior to his transfer to his ‘gem’ job as a School Resource Officer at Powell Valley Elementary.

Let’s just say it was a perfect fit for the man who wore his heart on his sleeve and those kiddies whose hearts he easily won over.

His last career move was to the Lincoln Memorial University Police Department, later accepting a position as site coordinator at the LMU-Knoxville campus.

As news spread of his sudden passing, scores of people took to Facebook to express their condolences. Among those were good friend Mike Busell, owner of Mike’s Gun Shop.

“We are devastated to hear of the passing of Officer Steve Murphy. Steve was a great customer and even better friend. He was always straightforward and very nice to all of us here at Mike’s and we will always remember a man like Steve. RIP Steve,” reads the post.

Jana Bass, spoke of memories upon learning of her good friend’s death.

“Devastation, heartbreak, are only the first of emotions I have experienced today. Knowing that I will see my friend, co-worker, supervisor again helps ease my pain. Our daily stories, laughter and the afternoon racing to the Speedwell Post Office have brought me smiles and tears today. Steven Murphy, you will forever be one of the best. Love you my friend; rest easy, fly high.”

The Tazewell Police Department issued a release upon learning of the passing of their former compadre.

“We would like to take a moment to honor the memory of former Officer/Sergeant Steve Murphy who worked for the Tazewell Police Department last in 2018. Officer Murphy was a man of many talents and always a humorous person to those who knew him. Steve was currently working for Lincoln Memorial University Police in Harrogate at the time of his passing after a medical emergency while off duty. Rest in peace, Steve. And thank you for your service to Tazewell and the surrounding community.”

Bet Lynn posted her feelings upon learning of her ‘besty.’

“Oh Steve, where do I begin? My heart is absolutely crushed in a million pieces …you’ve been a part of my life since I was 16 years old. We fought like brother and sister; always spoke our mind to each other but that brutal honesty is what has kept us best friends since we were young.

“I will keep all your pinky promise secrets with me forever. You may have appeared to be hard core on the outside but your heart was like a big soft teddy bear. I will miss our texts and phone conversations. You big silly butt; you were supposed to outlive me remember? My heart just can’t…. You were my guy best friend. Oh Steven, my heart is just so crushed. I promise I will keep a check on your momma. I know she was your world.”