|Birth: ||Aug. 7, 1920|
|Death: ||Feb. 17, 2006|
North Royalton – Florence Murphy , the mother of a congressman, never told her 11 kids which candidates would find her mark next to their names on a ballot.
The retired industrial nurse, who died Feb. 17 at age 85, argued with her husband in 1960 over the presidential debates of his perceived choice, Richard M. Nixon, and her presumed favorite, John F. Kennedy. It was the only time her kids remember her discussing politics at home.
"I believe that we would fall into the category of 'Voting your conscience' rather than 'Voting your party,' " her son John said.
Her kids may not have known that their mom – granddaughter of working-class Polish immigrants, widow of an Irish Catholic cemetery superintendent and lifelong resident of the Democratic-leaning Cleveland area – was a registered Republican in her later years.
"It makes sense," said her son Tim, a Republican congressman from the Pittsburgh area. "Many of her personal issues are Republican issues. She was pro-life . . . didn't like high taxes. She liked accountability for education."
She and her husband never told their kids how to vote.
"They encouraged us to think for ourselves and study the issues," Tim said. "If more voters did that instead of straight party voting, the country would be a lot better off."
Murphy , whose maiden name was Rybicki , and her two older brothers grew up in the Slavic Village area of Cleveland. Her mother worked at a textile mill. Her father, a carpenter, died shortly after Florence graduated from South High School.
The teenager with a flair for art wanted to be a fashion illustrator, but ended up going to St. Alexis School of Nursing. During World War II, she worked as a nurse and instructor at St. Alexis and Marymount hospitals.
In 1947, she left nursing to marry John Murphy and start a family. She lived in Garfield Heights before moving to Northfield Center Township in 1956.
Money was tight. Florence's brother, Eddie, helped by paying for trips to the circus and other unaffordable family outings. Brother Ray, a shoe salesman, facilitated the Murphy family's annual shoe-buying spree.
"Once a year, we would line up our shoes," said daughter Susan Vance-Johnson. "Everybody would try on one another's shoes, decide who got hand-me-downs, who got new. She'd take us to Faflik's [shoe store]. We filled up the whole store."
When some well-meaning people dropped off a basket of food on the Murphys' front porch at Christmas time, Florence did not keep it.
"She would never let us think in those terms – that we were downtrodden or lacked opportunity," son Tim said. "She gave the food away."
The education-minded mom posted a map of the solar system outside of the bathroom and kept a current set of encyclopedias handy for her kids to study. Murphy took advantage of free art, nature and cultural programs for kids.
"She took us swimming all the time – I think more because she knew that would wear us out," Vance-Johnson said.
Murphy , insisting that her children learn good manners, kept a wooden spoon, like a judge's gavel, by her plate at the dinner table.
"She didn't have to use it," Vance-Johnson said. "She just had to pick it up."
After her husband's death in 1979, Murphy moved to North Royalton and worked as a nurse at the S.K. Wellman plant. She graduated from John Carroll University with a bachelor's degree in 1986. She also became certified as a parliamentarian.
"She was a stickler for doing it right," Tim said. "She would be aggravated at meetings when the parliamentarian was not following rules. She relished discussions of parliamentary procedure: How the legislative system worked and how knowledge of parliamentary procedure could move or bottle up legislation."
Murphy volunteered for the Christ Child Society's mission to help at-risk kids. She did her best to make the world better.
"She not only did that," Tim said, "but made sure she had 11 kids who would do it too."
Teaching independent thinking Mother of 11 wanted kids to study issues, reach own conclusions
Plain Dealer, The (Cleveland, OH) - Sunday, March 19, 2006
Author: Alana Baranick, Plain Dealer Reporter
Francis Frank Rybicki (1888 - 1938)
Jennie Slypezynski Rybicki (1891 - 1967)
All Saints Cemetery
Plot: Section 9, Lot 532
Created by: TJ
Record added: Dec 09, 2010
Find A Grave Memorial# 62729805