She had been very ill for quite a while. Growing up in Etowah, she had a truly idyllic life as the only daughter of Howard and Viva Ownbey. While attending the University of Tennessee, she was swept off her feet by handsome Air Force Officer, Billy Murphy. They married, and together they traveled to duty posts all over, including Japan.
She was the ideal military wife, setting up the household and raising four children, two boys and two girls. Returning to Tennessee and settling in Chattanooga when her husband retired from the military, she adored being “back home.” Her children grown, she took on a new challenge, building what became an extremely successful career in real estate throughout the ‘80s and ‘90s.
She was kind and encouraging to all. Her kindness to strangers was legendary. Her wit and charm, steeped in southern tradition, made her a sought after guest and hostess. She was the perfect hostess in her many roles in Missionary Ridge Garden Club and Five By Five. Ever the fascinating conversationalist, she garnered many friends, many lifelong. And they will tell you she was a beautiful person both inside and out.
Her angelically beautiful singing voice could be heard throughout her Missionary Ridge home as well as in her Sunday School class and the First Centenary Choir.
As a child in Etowah, she dreamed big. She loved and was loved. She traveled the world, married her Prince Charming and reared four wonderful children. She bloomed where she was planted, and yet she sought new challenges.
Heather, as she was affectionately known, was her own proud person.
She is survived by her husband, Billy W. Murphy, and children: Mary L. Tabb of Oklahoma City, Billy H. (Jan) Murphy of Cleveland, Nan Murphy and Todd W. (Mary Ellen) Murphy, both of Chattanooga; five grandchildren: Leah Tabb (Kevin) Henderson, Jeffery Lynn Tabb, Adam Cox (Tiffany) Murphy, William Scott Murphy and Benjamin Wade Murphy; and one great-grandchild, Harlan Dean Henderson.
Visitation will be at Chattanooga Funeral Home East Chapel this evening, Dec. 17, 2013, from 6 to 8 p.m. Life Celebration service will be at noon Wednesday, Dec. 18, 2013, at First Centerary United Methodist Church, with visitation at the chapel one hour before the service.
Private graveside service and burial will follow at the National Cemetery.
Donations may be made to First Centenary Choir or Hearth Hospice of Chattanooga.
The family sends sincere gratitude to Lisa Ayers, her caregiver, and Lora Baker (RN) of Hearth Hospice.
Arrangements have been entrusted to Chattanooga Funeral Home, East Chapel, 404 South Moore Road, East Ridge, TN 37415.
Please share your thoughts and memories at www.chattanoogaeastchapel.com.