It is with the greatest sadness that I report the death of a member of our A/V community. Mike Murphy of Musicorp passed away in the early morning hours yesterday, after a courageous 15-month battle with cancer. He was 30 years old.
As a Pro-AV Integrator, I would not normally have the opportunity to know Mike, as he worked in the retail audio end of our industry, but I count myself blessed to have known this amazing man via two channels – First, he was the Musicorp rep for my father-in-law’s drumming supply shop. Secondly, he was an accomplished pipe band snare drummer who played with the Grade I, world-ranked City of Washington Pipe Band (my husband’s band) and instructed the MacMillan Pipe Band (that his mother and I both play with). Through both of these channels, I had the opportunity to not only know Mike, but to count him as a dear friend.
Mike grew up in Fairfax, Virginia, and graduated from Chantilly High School in 1997. He attended The Citadel, The Military College of South Carolina, as a member of the Class of 2001, and played with the Citadel Pipe Band. After graduation, he remained in South Carolina and joined Musicorp where he worked as a sales rep. He had a large territory full of happy customers. In 2008, Mike was one of five nominated, nationwide, for Music and Sound Retailer’s Sales Rep of the Year award.
He learned of this nomination in late 2008, right before he found out he had cancer. When the MSR awards were announced at NAMM 2009, Mike was in Georgetown University Hospital undergoing surgery to remove a large tumor (and his right lung) from his chest. He pulled through this surgery and the subsequent rounds of chemotherapy with his typical aplomb – a snarky attitude, gallows humor and amazing determination. He vowed to beat the cancer and to come back to win the Sales Rep of the Year award. His coworkers and bosses at Musicorp were amazingly supportive throughout his illness, even chipping in together to purchase him a brand-new laptop and all necessary accessories to tele-commute, allowing him to continue managing his territory from the hospital and from his parents’ home in Virginia. After his final chemo session and a scan declaring him cancer-free, he finally returned to his home in Charleston, SC, at the end of May, 2009 – ending what was possibly the longest “Christmas weekend home” in history.
His return south was short-lived, however. Three weeks after he returned, a series of extremely painful headaches sent him to the doctor’s office where they discovered his cancer had migrated to the brain. Back to DC he went from South Carolina, in what was possibly the longest ambulance ride since he was not permitted to fly or to drive. In mid-June, Mike had brain surgery to remove a number of small tumors, followed by cyber-knife radiation to attack the smaller ones. He continued to telecommute throughout the process, taking care of his many customers throughout his territory. In late 2009, he learned that he was again nominated for Music and Sound Retailer’s Sales Rep of the Year. Last month at NAMM, winners were announced and Mike was thrilled when he got the call that he was the winner.
His other vow from his chemo days was not to be, however. His brain was not healing as well as they wanted, post-surgery, and he had a few seizures in January. His doctors at Georgetown, as well as specialists from Johns Hopkins, recommended that he have additional brain surgery to relieve swelling. That surgery was scheduled for earlier this week, and postponed until today due to the blizzards. Before the rescheduled surgery could take place, Mike passed quietly in his sleep.
Michael is survived by his parents, Jim and Martina Murphy, as well as by three sisters, Christy, Jaime and Kathleen. Our deepest sympathies to them all. Mike is also survived by all of his “brothers” from the Citadel, his pipe band family from City of Washington, MacMillan, and Charleston Police Pipe Band, and his family at Musicorp, who were so very supportive of him throughout his illness. The A/V world, the pipe band world, and indeed, the world in general were all richer for his having been here, and the loss will be felt. His bravery and determination to live his life, to serve his customers, and to excel in musical performance, in the face of such a horrible illness should inspire us all.
Murph with City of Washington