Cover photo for Kathleen Murphy's Obituary
Kathleen Murphy Profile Photo

Kathleen Murphy

d. October 2, 2012

Kathleen M. (Kate) Murphy, 70, of Skaneateles, NY, died October 3, 2012 of complications associated with Lynch-related colorectal cancer at Upstate Medical University in Syracuse. She battled this hereditary cancer and MS beginning in 1983 and spent her last 17 years serving other patients and families, and working as a research advocate with “Fightcolorectal Cancer.”

Born and raised in Norwich, NY, and the first of five daughters of William and Harriett (Scott) Brunig, Kate was a devout Episcopalian and always credited Emmanuel Church for her lifelong values: pacifism, child development, women’s rights, service to the poor and, later, care for others with cancer.

Kate was a National Merit Scholarship finalist and salutatorian at Norwich High School (1960). She earned a degree in Mathematics from the University of Buffalo. After college she taught math in Buffalo and Pittsburgh until she returned to Norwich where she worked for Head Start. She was Executive Director of the YWCA of Binghamton, NY (1980-85) and then of the Consortium for Children’s Services, Syracuse, NY (1985-94). She retired from the Syracuse Community Health Center in 1995.

After retirement Kate’s work as a “patient-advocate” in CRC became her passion. She joined the Association of Cancer Online Resource (ACOR) and later became the “list mom,” monitoring and frequently dipping into the online chats with carefully scientific yet compassionate explanations of everything from new drugs to complementary medicine to day-to-day symptom survival tips.

Kate helped found the Colon Cancer Alliance (Washington, DC) in 1999, and Fight Colorectal Cancer (Alexandria, VA) in 1995 where she worked as Director of Research Communications until her death. She began the FCRC Research News blog in 2005 and wrote literally hundreds of news reports.

Kate brought not only knowledge to patients, but also took the patients’ perspective back to the professional and scientific community. She served on many scientific committees of the NCI, DOD, and State of Texas, which reviewed grant proposals, monitored patient safety and developed research concepts and priorities.

Kate had a whole other side to her life. She hated all war and marched for peace in every decade of her adult life. She was also a published poet, with her husband Tom took in rescue dogs, was an avid swimmer, loved travel by train and sailing on Skaneateles Lake. Most of all, her granddaughter, Sophia, was a gift who made her smile constantly.

Kate is survived by her husband Thomas P. Murphy of Skaneateles; two sons, Christopher Cima of Daytona Beach, FL, and Donald (Cynthia) Cima of Derry, NH, and little Sophia. She is also survived by four sisters, Barbara (Roland) Thomas, Clayton, NY; Linda (Charles) Hanson, Norwich; Candice (Renwick) Russell, Walton, NY; and Elizabeth (Anders) Bergfjord, Cooperstown, NY; aunts Verda Corbin, Clayton, NY and Helen (Richard) Dombrowsky, Liverpool, NY; uncle Melvin Scott. Los Angeles, CA, as well as many nieces and nephews and a network of CRC patients, survivors, families, providers and advocates all across the country.

Funeral services will take place at 1:00 p.m., Saturday, October 13, 2012, at Emmanuel Episcopal Church, in Norwich, with Rev. Charles Taylor, pastor, officiating. Friends may call at the Wilson Funeral Home on Saturday from 9:30 – 11:30 a.m. Interment will be private at a later date.

If you wish to honor Kate Murphy’s contributions to science, one of her favorite causes was Fight CRC’s “Lisa Fund,” 1414 Prince Street, Suite 204, Alexandria, VA 22314. The “Lisa Fund” contributes 100% of donations to young researchers working to find cures for advanced colorectal cancer.

To order memorial trees or send flowers to the family in memory of Kathleen Murphy, please visit our flower store.

Service Schedule

Past Services


Saturday, October 13, 2012

9:30 - 11:30 am (Eastern time)

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Saturday, October 13, 2012

Starts at 1:00 pm (Eastern time)

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