CMU staff honor memory of former trustees assistant Marykaye Murphy

Marykaye Murphy, former Central Michigan University Board of Trustees assistant, passed away Saturday.

Murphy, 71, worked at CMU for 43 years, serving for 40 of those years as Board of Trustees assistant. She is survived by three children and 11 grandchildren. A Mass of Christian Burial will be held at 9:30 a.m. Wednesday at Sacred Heart Catholic Church. Condolences can be sent to

Murphy retired in October 2011 following a battle with cancer that made it too difficult for her to work.

“Especially in the last few years when her health was declining, she was the personification of grace under pressure,” said Mary Jane Flanagan, executive assistant to University President George Ross. “She was really an example to all of us.”

Flanagan worked for the last 10 years as Murphy’s supervisor and said she was well-liked by all. Since Murphy’s death, Flanagan has received numerous sympathy emails from former board of trustee members who spoke highly of their experience working with Murphy.

“I figured out that (Murphy) worked with 50 individual board members and eight different presidents over her time at CMU,” Flanagan said. “When she retired, she took a lot of institutional knowledge with her.”

In 2008, Murphy earned the Staff Excellence Award. Flanagan said Murphy was completely professional and taught her to always have the ability to joke.

Murphy’s experience of working with so many different styles of people made her flexible and friendly, Flanagan said.

“She had the ability to bend like a willow,” Flanagan said.

Bob Rulong, former director of external relations, worked with Murphy for 26 years. He said she had become a very good friend.

“Her colleagues often said she should have run for political office, because no matter (who) the board members (were), Marykaye always got along with everyone on that board,” he said. “Members of the board of trustees . . . thought the world of her.”

Murphy was one of the most dedicated employees at CMU, Rulong said, with a work ethic second to none. Even when cancer hindered her ability to work, she fought bravely, he said.

“She was a real treasure for CMU,” Rulong said. “She will be missed.”

Steve Smith, director of public relations, praised Murphy’s work and commitment to CMU, even in the face of her own illness.

“It was always a priority to make sure stuff was done right, even when she was going through such personal issues,” Smith said. “She was just a great lady"


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