Tribute to James (Jim) Patrick Murrihy (SPC 1959-63)

September 14, 2021

Thank you to Old Collegian and 1963 College Captain Bill Joyce for preparing this tribute to Old Collegian Jim Murrihy (SPC 1959-63), who sadly passed away last year.


“Jim Murrihy died on June 1, 2020. His funeral was at Chelsea Heights four days later on June 5. Due to the restrictions in place due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the funeral was livestreamed and many of his friends missed the chance to attend.

A belated ‘wake’ was held at the Chelsea Cricket Club on Saturday, March 6, 2021. Jim’s love of sport and his contribution and commitment to the Chelsea Cricket Club were a feature of the wake.

The Technology Centre at Parkdale Secondary College is proudly named in honour of Jim Murrihy.

But there was another side of Jim much – less well known to many of his old St Pat’s colleagues – for over 30 years Jim was a highly successful teacher and Vice Principal at Parkdale Secondary College. The comments of his peers in his death notices described him as “a much- loved and highly respected leader at Parkdale Secondary College for over 30 years … a man of intellect, integrity and exceptional organizational skills. (Who) had an enormous impact on hundreds of students, teachers and parents. He was the champion of a fair go for all and a most warm, lovable character”.  His career is brought to life in the wonderful ‘Vale” to Jim, that describes his time at Parkdale and can be accessed by clicking on this link here

Jim Murrihy’s wife Audrey chatting with Bill Joyce and John Torpy at Jim’s wake.

Jim was 14 when he came to St Pat’s in 1959, joining his brother Michael (Mick) who started in 1957. The Murrihy’s came from Bacchus Marsh where their father worked at the Maddingley Coal Mine. Miner’s wages meant the four Murrihy children didn’t have an easy start to life – although Cathy, Jim’s sister, said there was always food on the table. Jim, like his Dad, became a strong unionist and supporter of the Labor party. 

Jim Murrihy, pictured in his SPC First XIII Football team photograph.

In 1959 his first year at St Pat’s, Jim captained McCarthy in the “Shed” Competition and won the “best and fairest”. The following year he captained McCarthy in the Senior Park Cricket and Galvin in the football. In 1961 he joined his brother Michael, who was captain, in the First XVIII that lost twice to Ballarat College. In 1962, following in Michael’s footsteps, he captained the first XVIII with “enthusiasm and spirit” when Ballarat Grammar won its first BPS premiership. Captain again in 1963 he had a team “blessed with great talent, fired with spirit and enthusiasm to make it a contender for the title of “best ever”’. Strengthened by the addition of Paul Sullivan, Frank Dimattina, Bill Chaplin, Pros Labb and Daryl Teschendorf, the team was undefeated and BPS Champions. The School Annual records Jim “as an inspiration to his team always, a courageous player rather than a brilliant one, a leader in all phases of the game”.

Jim was also a member of the First XI in 1962 -63. In 1963 he was a prefect, top student in Economics and Modern History and won the Howard Prize for Character, Application to Study and Sport.

So what were the features of Jim’s character at school and did they set up the foundation of a great leader and successful educator at Parkdale College – so successful they named the Schools Technology Centre after him. 

Barry Richardson, Andy Seaburgh, Martin Murrihy (Jim’s son), John Torpy, Bob Moloney, Gerard Torpy, Daryl Teschendorf and Brian Doherty with Jim Murrihy’s wife Audrey at his wake in March, 2021.

I sought the views of his schoolmates on Jim as a leader at St Pat’s and thank them for their assistance and comments.

Daryl Teschendorf described Jim as courageous, inspirational and determined, he showed no fear, gave his teammates courage, and was a special leader, with a wry smile and a mischievous glint in his eye.

Andy Seaburgh said Jim was a true “Shinboner” (Jim was a passionate North Melbourne supporter) who led by example, was reliable, could keep his opponents quiet and dish it out quietly. Paul Sullivan remembers him as unassuming, but deeply respected so he carried the team with him. While Jim may not have been the best player in the team he was the best person to be captain of the team. This captures the true character of his person and leadership qualities.

Barry Richardson said Jim was popular and well liked, with true humility – not the soap box type. Barry continued Jim was decent with a dry, self-deprecating sense of humour, with an innate determination and courage, who led by example. Concluding, Jim could and would look you in the eye to make a point and make you feel special. John Torpy also recalled Jim only had to look at you to make a point. Brian Doherty remembers a bright person, who appeared not to like study, was fearless and gave clear directions on the field. Dick Doran who made the First XVIII as a 14-year-old in 1962 remembers a popular leader, the hardest trier in the team, who could and would talk to anyone. 

John Young remembers Jim’s terrific nature, grit on the field, who espoused “if I can do it so can you”. Paul Bongiorno remembers a gentle person who stepped in to protect Bongie from one of the school’s renowned bullies – who was much bigger than Jim. The bully backed down. Michael Densley a young boarder from Bacchus Marsh who knew Jim as the master of marbles at primary school was looked after by Jim as he struggled to settle into boarding school.

Finally Terry Lloyd, teammate, fellow Commerce student, roommate at Newman College and past Chairperson of the St Patrick’s CollegeBoard, shares this;  “As a leader, Jim displayed sincere enthusiasm which instilled confidence and inspired and motivated those he led. He accepted the responsibility of leadership with humility.  He was an authentic leader who placed great store on honesty, integrity and accountability, and encouraged these attributes in others.  Jim was a resilient leader, adaptable to change, approachable and reliably available to offer support and encouragement. He was an effective communicator who offered sincere care for others, instilled confidence and was highly respected as a person and as a leader. Many of us are better people for having the privilege of experiencing his influence”.

I endorse the views of Jim’s schoolmates – they match the Jim I knew. I would add loyalty to their description of Jim. He gave it, expected it and received it. All the crucial elements of character to become a successful teacher and Vice Principal, were present in the 19-year-old St Pat’s boy who became the “Brother Bill” of Parkdale College. 

Success usually depends on the loyal support of others. In Jim’s case his success at Parkdale would not have happened without the loyalty and sacrifices of his wife Audrey and children Martin and Cheree.”

Bill Joyce
College Captain 1963