Mitch peacefully left this world the 11th of June 2018, one week after his 60th birthday. He was born June 4th, 1958 to parents Margaret Spencer Murphy and Galen Alfred Murphy, in Fort Knox, Kentucky. He was predeceased by both. Survivors include daughter Molly; the love of his life, Susan; sister Marta; brother Mike and sister-in-law Patty; nieces Rachel, Abbie, and Claire; nephew Levi. Mitch's military family lived on bases until settling in Topeka in 1964 where Mitch attended Southwest Avondale (Shaner), Jardine Junior High School, and Topeka High School, graduating in 1976.
Mitch took his role of "big brother" seriously, once defending his siblings from a stranger knocking on the door with a toy bow and arrows. He made up letters from Winnie the Pooh using junk mail which he "read" to his little sister. Mitch's fondest childhood memories were of time spent on his grandparent's farm where his love for the outdoors and nature developed. He enjoyed fishing and camping with his dad, and was a Boy Scout for many years, achieving the level of Life Scout. Academically, he was proud of qualifying for and participating in the Shawnee County spelling bee.
Mitch had a keen interest in history and archeology. At age sixteen, he was the youngest person ever to join the Kansas State Historical Society, and later Kansas Archeological Association. He pursued the extra training required to perform various duties at the yearly digs which he always looked forward to. His biggest passions, however, were hunting and fishing. He fished whenever and wherever he could--farm ponds, lakes, and the ocean a few times. The catch he bragged most about was an 83 pound catfish caught at Pomona Reservoir. He had several other trophy fish mounted. If not a fishing pole, a book was usually in his hand as he loved to read. He also enjoyed movies and going out to eat. A gregarious extrovert, Mitch loved social events and interacting with others- especially if they had a pond! He maintained a deep love and loyalty to his family of origin as well as for his wife and daughter. He also very much valued his friendships.
Mitch married Susan Burns Murphy in February, 1988. The following year they had a daughter, Molly Margaret, the light of their lives. With his creative imagination and love of play, he was quite the fun dad. And as you might guess, he bought Molly a little pink fishing pole and taught her to fish. He was never more proud of anyone than he was of his daughter.
Mitch had many vocations throughout his life. He worked in many restaurants with duties ranging from food prep to Sous Chef. He held positions for several years each at Frito Lay and Southwestern Bell and drove for a trucking company after obtaining a Commercial Driver's License from Fort Scott College. He worked in the healthcare field in several capacities: as a Psychiatric Technician at the Topeka VA, Topeka State Hospital, Valeo and as a CNA in nursing homes and private home care, and as staff at drug/alcohol treatment facilities (Jaywalker Lodge in Carbondale, CO, and Stepping Stones in Topeka).
Anyone who knew Mitch knew he struggled with drug and alcohol addiction for most of his adult life. It is part of his story. Thirteen years ago, on May 25th, Mitch had a stroke which turned his life around. He believed God was giving him one last chance to quit drugs or else die. He chose to live, and on July 5, 2005 entered a treatment center in Carbondale, Colorado to begin a new life of sobriety which he maintained the rest of his life. It wasn't easy, but he did it with the help of God, AA, church, family, friends, and his own determination. Maintaining sobriety became his daily priority, and he was able to help others, including his daughter, in their recovery.
Mitch's Christian faith was important to him. He was a member of Wanamaker Woods Church of the Nazarene for over 30 years where he participated in small group Bible studies, ushering, and the Men's Ministry. He and Susan were committed to praying together every morning for the past several years.
If asked to describe Mitch, his sense of humor and wit would come to most people's minds. He loved to make people laugh and was very good at it. He was quite ornery as well. Mitch had a real exuberance and zest for life even as he suffered many health challenges in his last years. Admirably, he didn't complain much about his declining health, claiming, "it doesn't help anything", although he certainly felt its impact. Mitch liked to give people complements, saying he believed it made people feel good, this carried through in his last days in the hospital. He will be missed by those who were blessed to have had him in their life, but we are comforted in knowing that, because of his faith in Jesus Christ as his Savior, we will see him again!
A memorial service will be held at Wanamaker Woods Church of the Nazarene, 3501 SW Wanamaker Rd, Topeka, KS. on Saturday, June 23, 2018 at 2:00 pm. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to Wanamaker Woods Men's Ministry or Outreach Ministry.
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