As America wept following the terrorist attacks on New York City’s Twin Towers on September 11, 2001, Ron Murphy, a retired Bullitt County school principal, headed to Ground Zero.
For 16 days, he helped feed and assist rescue workers and others who went about the grim task of recovering victims.
“It’s difficult to list all the deeds of humanity that Ron has performed. I’m sure there are many that no one else knows about except the person involved,” says James Simmons of Mt. Washington, who nominated Murphy as a Cooperative Hero.
“He can be found working regularly with our local food ministries, which help countless families when times are tough; building wheelchair ramps to help the elderly and disabled; helping a homeless single mother and her children with food, clothing, and shelter; or working tirelessly with our church congregation,” says Simmons.
“To know someone like Ron Murphy makes me proud to be an American.”
The youngest of six brothers of a McCreary County farm family, Murphy, who holds degrees from Cumberland College and Western Kentucky University, retired in 1993 after 27 years with the Bullitt County school system.
“I was only 49 when I retired, so I knew I was going to do something else, and I got into volunteer work and have been blessed,” says Murphy, a member of Salt River Electric.
Beyond his untold hours of local service, he has worked extensively in 11 other states with the Kentucky Baptist Convention’s large mobile kitchen and their cleanup crews, and on occasion with the Salvation Army on disaster relief efforts. He worked in four states after Hurricane Katrina.
In 2006, the Bullitt County chapter of the Scottish Rite Society named Murphy its Citizen of the Year.
Strong support from his wife, Karen, and their son and daughter, and lasting memories of the devastation he has witnessed, have strengthened his commitment.
“One of the most emotional experiences I had was up on Staten Island (after 9/11) on the landfill where they were going through the debris,” Murphy says. “One day we were taking water out to the different sites, and we went by one site where there was a whole stack of stuffed animals, and you knew that they had come from the day care at one of the Twin Towers.
“You couldn’t keep from crying.”