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Farewell, Lovely Champion

The Ursuline School community is deeply saddened by the passing of trustee JoAnn Mazzella Murphy on December 21, 2020.

The wisdom, wit, and witness of JoAnn Murphy are unmatched.

As trustee, JoAnn offered sage counsel, drawing on her experience as Vice Chair of Country Bank. The Advancement Committee of the Board benefitted in particular from her thoughtful and practical recommendations. Her words were informed by active engagement with the school community; JoAnn took every opportunity to see the school in operation and her frequent presence on campus was a gift.  On the annual celebration of St. Angela’s Feast Day, for example, JoAnn was one of the trustees who regularly joined the school community at Mass, visited classrooms, and shared lunch conversation with students.

Those students no doubt realized that JoAnn was a leader for her generation and for today.  Unpretentious, gracious, commanding a room as she intuitively knew what to say and how to get at the heart of what was important. JoAnn gave witness to the exceptional Ursuline education in the remarks she gave on podcasts, at dinners, and other events.

Before she was our trustee, JoAnn connected with Ursuline through her granddaughters, Kelly MacGillivray Annunziata ’07 and Christina Murphy '22.  JoAnn often spoke of how well Ursuline educated her two granddaughters to become wise, compassionate women. To ensure that other families would also benefit from an Ursuline education, JoAnn and her husband, Joseph, generously gave to Ursuline over many years.  Whenever a financial campaign arose, they stepped up.  In honor of their granddaughters, JoAnn and Joseph made possible the Christina Jun Murphy ’22 Student Commons and Kelly Mac Field. They also donated an Irish Art Collection in honor of their late son, Christopher.

Indeed, family was especially important to JoAnn. She would go to any lengths to visit her children, grandchildren, and great-granddaughter. She also honored her roots; we recall that she loved visiting Ireland and creating an Italian feast for all the Irish relatives. She ensured that those around her shared laughter, song, entertainment, and fun. Always tolerant of others, comfortable in her own skin, and happy from the inside out – attributes that we hope to see in every Ursuline student.

JoAnn Murphy was a true champion of Ursuline. We will miss her tremendously.

Eternal rest grant unto her, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon her.
May she rest in peace. Amen.


JoAnn enjoyed the Ursuline Fashion Show with daughters Patti and Mary, and granddaughter Kelly.


JoAnn & Joseph with Eileen Davidson, Feb 2019 dinner

JoAnn and Joseph, Honorary Chairs of the current Innovation Campaign for The Ursuline School, with President Eileen Davidson.


JoAnn Murphy at lunch with students Jan 2019JoAnn Murphy with students Jan 2019

JoAnn at lunch with students on a trustee visit to the school. On the back wall is part of the Irish Art Collection, Stations of the Cross, donated by the Murphys.


 JoAnn donned a hard hat at the June 2019 groundbreaking for the Innovation Campaign!


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