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Newspaper Articles.


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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 strangers...

Tuesday's People:
Quilt gift kindness of strangers
By Kate Leckie
News-Post Staff


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 1999.

 (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 well.


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. Lane said.


The quilt will be presented to the Murphys at the quilters guild monthly meeting tonight at the Calvary United Methodist Church in Mount Airy.


"Just in time for Valentine's Day," Mrs. Lane said.


"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 from one of Jessie's friends:
A letter to the editor of the Frederick News Post on 2/20/01 from Jessie's aunt:
A letter to the editor from friends of the Murphy family:
An article in the newspaper 5/7/03 announcing the 2003 tournament:
An article in the newspaper 4/29/04 announcing the 2004 tournament:
An article in the newspaper 7/11/04 regarding the success of the 2004 tournament:
An article in the Gazette 6/23/2005:

Volleyball tournament 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.


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. scholarship going. Plus [the tournament's] a blast," said Brad Murphy, her brother.


"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 her gravesite.

"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 said.


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 stop by.


"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.

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.

Article in the Frederick News Post November 14, 2007:
Article in the Frederick News Post June, 2008:

Photo by Travis Pratt



The interior of St. John's Cemetery Chapel.

Article in the Frederick News Post September 18, 2010:

Cemetery chapel a place for prayer, peace

Originally published September 18, 2010



By Susan Guynn 

News-Post Staff 



A place of labor is now a place of rest and peace.

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 chapel.


The cemetery is open from dawn to dusk and the chapel will be open most days, Mohan said.

Article in the Frederick News Post September 30,2010:
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