Skip to main content

Holladay Journal

Longtime city volunteer Kathy Murphy passes away

Feb 09, 2024 11:57AM ● By Collette Hayes

Kathy Murphy, a longtime Holladay Arts Council and Historical Commission member, passed away on Jan. 4 having dedicated numerous years of service to Holladay City. (Photo credit Holladay City)

Kathy F. Murphy, a longtime Holladay Arts Council and Historical Commission member, passed away on Jan. 4 having dedicated numerous years of service to Holladay City.  

According to Martin Luther King Jr. “Life’s most persistent and urgent question is, ‘What are you doing for others?’” Murphy answered King’s question daily by living a life that exemplified the attributes of a selfless volunteer and quiet hero of Holladay.

As a Holladay Arts Council member, in 2016, Murphy helped organize the first summer concerts held in the Holladay community. In the first few years of the concerts, attendance was low, averaging between 100 to 500 people. Through her countless hours of researching bands, attending community concerts, and working with Excellence in the Community, a local talent agency, Murphy was instrumental in helping that number grow to a current 5,500 people attending the summer concerts. 

“I admired Kathy’s tenacity when she came up with an idea,” former Holladay Arts Council Executive Director Sheryl Gillilan said. “Many times, she approached me with a plan that I wasn’t sure was possible, but Kathy would dive right in and make it happen. I particularly remember the year COVID started. We were both desperate to keep the concerts going in the summer of 2020, and we came up with the idea of having drive-in concerts in a parking lot- which was a lot harder to pull off than it sounds. I remember visiting parking lots with Kathy, looking for one that was suitable. We found that parking lot and held drive-in concerts that summer.”

Murphy was a tireless volunteer serving other local organizations in addition to the Arts Council.

“Kathy spent years on the city’s Historical Commission and also with Red Butte Gardens, Gillilan said. “She was a painter, potter, cook and baker. She was a true Renaissance woman.”

Murphy’s dedication to her family was impressive. She carefully reserved her time with family, whether for a birthday dinner or other activity.

“She was crazy about her grandkids,” Historical Commission member Kim Duffy said. “She and her granddaughter used to cook together, and she would send me images of the things they cooked.” 

Murphy wrote the OnStage in Utah grants, available from the Utah Division of Arts and Museums. A requirement for grant recipients is that a musical presentation has to be arranged at a community facility. Murphy was instrumental in coordinating the musical presentations at local senior centers to fulfill the grant requirement. 

She was the recipient of the Helping Hands of Holladay Award. 

“There are many things I admire about Kathy,” Gillilan said. “For one, she was extraordinarily reliable. Not once in the many years I worked with her did she ever fail to do something she said she would do. I relied entirely on volunteers, and no leader can get anywhere without the passion and dedication of the people doing the work. Kathy exemplified these traits beautifully, and I could not have gotten by without her.”

Murphy leaves behind a legacy that will be missed by family, friends and the Holladay community.

“Kathy exemplified the essence of our community, dedicating years of service to both the Holladay Arts Council and the Holladay Historical Commission,” Arts and Culture Manager Megan Attermann said. “Her unwavering commitment and tireless efforts were instrumental in giving life to the cherished summer concert series. This loss is undeniably profound for our entire community.” λ