Scholarship Shows Murphy's Love for College | Thomas Nelson Community College

Scholarship Shows Murphy's Love for College

January 9, 2020
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In nearly 30 years of following the Norfolk Admirals, Eric Murphy amassed an impressive collection of memorabilia. (Photo courtesy of Land of Goshen)

Eric Murphy, who never married and didn’t have children, was afraid of being forgotten after he passed away, according to his mother. Now, thanks in large part to his mother carrying out one of his wishes, that won’t be the case.

Patti Boyd, along with the Land of Goshen auction house, are auctioning off much of his possessions to start a scholarship in his honor at Thomas Nelson Community College, which was much more than his alma mater. It also was his place of employment for nearly 20 years.

Murphy, who was born and raised in Newport News, died from congestive heart failure Oct. 3, 2019, just five days before his 45th birthday. His father died from the same cause at the age of 49.

“(Eric) wasn’t aware he was dying at the time … but he had said to me he would really like a scholarship in his name here,” she said of Thomas Nelson.

Murphy loved the college, working as a telecommunications and network senior analyst in the IT department. He was also a student at Thomas Nelson, earning a degree and numerous professional certificates. Other loves of his include his dog (a husky named Rebos); fishing (especially in the Florida Keys); the Washington Redskins (though his mother said, “God knows why.”); the Baltimore Orioles; and his entire family (especially his nephews and nieces).

But perhaps what he is most remembered for is his love of the Norfolk Admirals, a minor-league hockey team. A Norfolk television station called him “arguably” their biggest fan. In his nearly 30 years following the team, he attended more than 700 games and amassed more than 200 autographed items, as well as bobbleheads, game programs, pucks and much more. Land of Goshen will hold an online auction to raise money for the scholarship. Included in the auction will be family antiques and his household goods, but the highlight is Murphy’s hockey collection. The Admirals will promote the auction at one of their home games, as well as donate a portion of that night’s ticket sales to the scholarship. Dates of those events haven’t been finalized yet.

Boyd is the reason Murphy became an Admirals fan almost three decades ago. He attended his first game after she passed along a pair of tickets someone had given her, but she never attended a game with him. He usually went with a regular group of friends.

“His sister and her family went to one game with him,” she said, adding she will go to the Admirals game where her son is honored. “Most of the family is into soccer. Eric’s hockey was a one-off.”

She wasn’t aware of how much hockey memorabilia her son had until they started going through his belongings.

“We’d open dresser drawers and there’d be more,” she said. “And underneath dressers and underneath the bed.”

The goal is to raise $30,000, which will allow them to create an annual scholarship at Thomas Nelson for an IT student. Boyd is working on those details also, but it will be awarded to a student pursuing an IT degree or certificate. She said it won’t be tied to grade point average, but need.

“Eric was a real champion of the underdog, and he struggled to pay for training and everything,” she said. “We don’t need a 4.0 person. We need someone who really wants it and can do something with it, and it will mean something too.”

Boyd said Murphy always loved computers, and was the person in the family to go to with computer-related issues. A number of his co-workers at Thomas Nelson said he was the only one they trusted to work on their computers.

“His friends called him a savant,” Boyd said. “That stuff just clicked for him.”

Boyd has heard from many of Murphy’s friends, coworkers and associates in the three months since his death, all mentioning a trait of his.

“They all said he was so loyal,” she said.

The scholarship in his honor will assure that his association with and loyalty to Thomas Nelson Community College will live on.

To make a donation to Thomas Nelson Community College in his honor, go to tncc.edu/donate.