All About the Memorial Fund
Contributions From Travis
One Year Later
Ten Years Later
Letters to Jessie
Poems by Jessie's
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A letter to the editor from Jessie's grandparents:
Article written about Jessie on 10/8/99:
Car wash fundraiser:
Announcing the Memorial Fund:
An article on February 13, 2001 - On the kindness of
Quilt gift kindness of strangers
By Kate Leckie
Kate Lane and nine other
volunteers recently made a large quilt in memory of Jessica
Murphy, a 14-year-old who died in an automobile accident in August
(Staff photo by Sam Yu )
A handmade quilt that Don and Sue Murphy will receive
tonight is a testament to the kindness of strangers.
Decorated with pieces of T-shirts worn by their daughter
Jessica, the quilt is a memorial to the 14-year-old killed in an August
1999 car crash.
When Spring Ridge resident Kate Lane came up with the
quilt idea, the Lanes and the Murphys had never met.
A child care provider with two young children, Mrs. Lane
could identify with their loss, having suffered a miscarriage in the fifth
month of her first pregnancy years before.
"I couldn't believe that their beautiful daughter was
gone, and I wanted to do something to help," she said.
After some time had passed since Jessica's death, Mrs.
Lane was introduced to Sue Murphy by another Spring Ridge resident,
Frederick County Commissioner Jan Gardner.
Within a week of their meeting, Mrs. Lane sent the Murphys
a letter asking if they would allow her to make a memorial quilt out of
some of their daughter's favorite clothing.
She was delighted when the Murphys agreed, and in
September 2000, the cutting and stitching got under way in the living room
of Kate and Joe Lane's Remington Drive home.
For two to three hours every other Sunday night, members
of the Four County Quilters Guild, to which Mrs. Lane belonged, would
gather to work on the quilt, with the Murphys playing an active role as
Square and rectangular designs cut from the T-shirts were
ironed and framed in material selected by the Murphys.
The pieces, laid out in four sections on Mrs. Lane's
living room floor, were all sewn together. Then the group sought
professional assistance with the finishing touches, attaching the front to
the back and completing the quilting.
Mrs. Lane picked up the finished product last week.
A native of Bucks County, Pa., Mrs. Lane, 36, estimated
that she's put at least 90 hours into the project. The finished product is
93 inches wide and 103 inches long.
The front of the quilt is covered in pictures and logos
from about three dozen T-shirts that show Jessica's varied interests —
athletics, a part-time job and places she visited.
The back of the quilt is finished with stitching in the
shape of butterflies, a favorite of Jessica's. The focus on the back is
the T-shirt designed by Jessica's brother Brad for a volleyball tournament
her family organized in her memory last year.
"There's a lot of symbolism in the quilt," Mrs.
The quilt will be presented to the Murphys at the quilters
guild monthly meeting tonight at the Calvary United Methodist Church in
"Just in time for Valentine's Day," Mrs. Lane
"I hope they'll take the quilt and wrap it around
themselves, like Jessie's giving them a big hug," Mrs. Lane said.
The volunteers who assisted Mrs. Lane with the project on
Sunday nights were Celeste Schley of Frederick, Linda Smith of
Walkersville, Eleanor Weitzel of Brunswick, Terri Feehan of Sykesville and
Maxine Verdier of Mount Airy. Donna Ruppert of Monrovia and Joyce Nichols
of Ijamsville donated materials and helped with sewing. Barbara
Poffenburger and Susan Eitnier of Tomorrow's Treasures in Walkersville did
all the custom machine quilting.
A letter to the editor of the Frederick News Post on
2/15/01 from Jessie's grandparents:
A letter to the editor of the Frederick News Post on
2/20/01 from Jessie's aunt:
letter to the Editor from one of Jessie's friends:
letter to the editor from friends of the Murphy family:
article in the newspaper 5/7/03 announcing the 2003 tournament:
article in the newspaper 4/29/04 announcing the 2004 tournament:
article in the newspaper 7/11/04 regarding the success of the 2004 tournament:
article in the Gazette 6/23/2005:
memorializes TJ student
by Jessica Geesaman
Special to the Gazette
June 23, 2005
For six years after a car accident took the life of a local high school student,
quiet mourning for the teen has turned into celebratory action.
Photos by Jim Hamann/Special to The Gazette
Family and friends of Jessica Murphy, a Gov. Thomas Johnson
High School student who was killed in a car accident in 1999,
came together Saturday at the school for a memorial volleyball
tournament in her honor. Jessica's brother, Brad, holds a
swallowtail butterfly to be released at the event.
Drivers on Motter Avenue Saturday would have been hard-pressed to miss the
little white balls popping in the air like kettle corn in a nearby field.
Gov. Thomas Johnson High School's baseball outfield played host to a
volleyball tournament raising money for the Jessica Lee Murphy Memorial Fund.
Although on that day, smiles beamed as bright as the sun, one thing had not
changed: Everyone there had come to celebrate the memory of Jessica Murphy.
"I think it is a great way to honor Jessie, because she loved playing
volleyball. It is a great way to have fun and think about her," said Doug
Murphy, Jessica's uncle.
Jessica Murphy, 14, was killed in a car accident Aug. 26, 1999, a few days
before the start of her sophomore year at Gov. Thomas Johnson High School.
The sixth annual tournament boasted an attendance of 130 players of all skill
levels and about 40 volunteers and visitors. After a morning of playful
competition, all rested at noon to gather their strength and to discuss the
young girl they had come to honor.
As Jessica's family spoke, butterflies were released from small white
envelopes. The butterflies were a symbol of Jessica's spirit. As a young teen,
she collected butterfly memorabilia. Upon her death, family and friends
encountered many of the creatures, including ones that would accompany them to
"It was neat and helped everyone have something to hold onto," said
Jessica's cousin, Danielle Murphy, of the uncanny coincidences. "When I see
one, I think of her. It helps me remember."
Amid the dancing of butterflies, play resumed. Teams of men's and women's
doubles and co-ed sixes raised $9,000. It was the best year yet, said Sue
Murphy, Jessica's mother.
"It's a very generous community we live in," she added.
The event is the greatest contributor to Jessica's memorial fund, managed by
the Community Foundation of Frederick County. The fund awards grants and $2,000
scholarships to college-bound T.J. High seniors who are student-athletes with
safe driving records.
"I am very blessed to be picked," said this year's recipient, Jami
Murray. Murray, who has been playing volleyball for three years, hopes to
continue at Messiah College in Pennsylvania.
"It's a chance to play for Jessie, to play in her honor," Murray
The first volleyball tournament was held in the spring following Jessica's
death. The Murphys had been struggling with their loss, when Jessica's uncle
approached them with news that donations from caring community members were
mounting. Eager to turn tragedy to triumph, the family started the fund and
organized the tournament to keep the fund going.
"It brought peace to us to see people enjoying something she
loved," Sue Murphy said.
Every step of the way, the Murphys have been both surprised and comforted by
the support given by family, friends and the community, from businesses who
contribute whatever they can, to their daughter's classmates who continue to
"The amount of mature, deep compassion by this group was
astounding," said Sue Murphy, referring to Jessica's adolescent friends.
The Murphys are especially thankful for the loving devotion of Jessica's aunt
and uncle and their children, who live down the street.
"I don't think there was a day that went by for half a year that they
didn't stop in and see us," said Sue Murphy.
For others who don't know how, the tournament is an opportunity for them to
support the fund, the family and Jessica.
"When you love somebody that has suffered a tragedy, you want so bad to
be able to do something. This gives people a chance to do something for
us," Sue Murphy said. "You can't bring her back. No one can give me
the only thing I really want, but they can certainly help in other ways."
Just like the memory of their daughter will never fade, neither will the
Murphy's resolve to hold an annual tournament. The family has no plans to stop
the event any time soon, said Don Murphy, Jessica's father.
"I feel strongly about keeping the scholarship going. Plus [the
tournament's] a blast," said Brad Murphy, her brother.
Article in the Frederick News Post November 14,
Article in the Frederick News Post June, 2008:
Article in the Frederick News Post September 18,
Cemetery chapel a place for prayer, peace
Originally published September 18, 2010
A place of labor is now a place of rest and peace.
Photo by Travis Pratt
The interior of St. John's Cemetery Chapel.
The board of St. John's Cemetery in
Frederick oversaw the conversion of a maintenance and storage shed
into a beautiful chapel. The project spanned years of planning and is the
result of monetary, material and manpower donations.
"The process started about 10 years ago," longtime board member Bill
Mohan said recently. Official groundbreaking was in 2003 and the chapel
was blessed last fall.
"We did it as funds became available and problems were resolved," said
cemetery board member Sue Murphy.
A flagstone courtyard, lined with eight flagstone-topped stone benches
leads to the chapel's full glass doors. The outer "doors" are two iron
gates that originally served as the gates to the East Fourth Street
entrance to the cemetery, which fills the block on East Street, between
East Third and East Fourth streets. The gates were refurbished and
retrofitted for the chapel. A black iron cross above the doors was found
on the cemetery grounds. It once marked the grave of an unknown Union
soldier, Mohan said.
The exterior was finished and painted to mimic the exterior of St. John
the Evangelist Roman Catholic Church on East Second Street. The church was
designed by architect John Tehan, who is buried in the cemetery. The
church building began in 1833 and was consecrated in 1837, Mohan said. The
cemetery was established in 1845, but as early as 1832, a free black man
named Henry, who died of cholera, was the first person buried there.
Also buried in the cemetery is St. John's first pastor, the Rev. John
McElroy. He was pastor from 1822 to 1845. He founded Boston College in
1863, and when he died in 1877 at age 95, he was the oldest living Jesuit
in the world.
When McElroy left St. John's, he gave his wood and plaster crucifix to
the church. It is being restored and will hang inside the chapel.
The chapel floor is also flagstone. A two-story window with a wood
cross built into the frame is opposite the entry and rises to the ceiling
of exposed rafters and yellow pine boards. A dome-topped cupola,
resembling the cupola atop St. John's church, punctuates the ceiling.
A bronze-tone corpus statue, with outstretched arms, hangs on the
window's cross. The figure was donated by Murphy and her husband, Don, in
honor of their teenage daughter, Jessica, who died from injuries sustained
in a traffic accident in 1999 and is buried in the cemetery.
A local craftsman designed and built the altar. A wood cross is
incorporated into the recessed panel design of the maple and birch altar.
In each corner of the altar's top is a small cross and the design holds a
relic from St. Martin de Porres.
"It's a place for reflection and personal prayer," said Murphy, noting
that the board plans to add kneelers and votives to the chapel. A donor
plaque, listing those who contributed to the project, is also displayed in
The cemetery is open from dawn to dusk and the chapel will be open most
days, Mohan said.
the Frederick News Post September 30,2010: