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James Raymond Murphy (newspaper article)


Posted By: Mark Christian
Date: 10/11/2008 at 22:56:10

Corner Again on Leadership of Grand Army of Republic and American Legion


DES MOINES (Iowa Daily Press Bureau) - Iowa has a one-year corner on the leadership of two great veterans' organizations in the persons of Oley Nelson of Slater, national commander of the G. A. R., and Ray Murphy of Ida Grove, national commander of the American Legion.

Only once before in history were the national commanders of the two groups from the same state, and Iowa happened to be the home of the elect of the "flghtin' men" in that year also. Back In 1921 Judge J. W. Willett of Tama was national commander of the G. A R. and Hanford McNider of Mason City headed the American Legion.

[omitted section about Oley Nelson]

Until his election as national commander of the Legion, James Raymond Murphy was a stalwart in the state government, only in more active way. As a matter of fact, he is state insurance commissioner right now, with a year leave of absence during his tenure as Legion chief.

A generation or more younger than Commander Nelson, Murphy also is just one generation removed from the Murphys who pioneered in covered wagons. His father, Daniel Andrew Jackson Murphy, came to Dubuque county in 1850. Daniel Andrew Jackson in time was born in 1887, the youngest of the lot. Four of his brothers, William, Robert, Joseph and Emmett, live in Ida Grove while a sister Mrs. J. M. Shea is a resident of Sioux City.

Inheriting the Murphy brawn, his father vas a blacksmith, Murphy was one of the famous athletes of his day in Iowa. Following a brilliant high school career at Ida Grove, he played football at the University of Iowa in 1909, 1910 and 1911, captaining the team in his last year. He was equally good in baseball, basketball and on the

Upon graduation from the University of Iowa law school In 1912, he was awarded the Max Mayer trophy for excellence in scholarship and athletics.

After beijg admitted to the bar, he went to Metolium, Ore., to practice. Nine months later he returned to Ida Grove, whence the Murphy family had moved when Ray was eight, to hang out his shingle.

In 1903, while a high school sophomore, "that big Murphy boy" enlisted in the Ida Grove company of the national guard. He later became a captain, resigning In 1915 when he was elected county attorney of Ida county. In 1916, with trouble brewing on the Mexican border, he turned the job over to the man he had defeated at the polls and went "off to war." He returned with the rank of first lieutenant. Many are the stories told of Murphy coming in from a hard march in the heat of Texas carrying two or three packs of exhausted privates oh his broad shoulders.

On April 1, 1917 he accepted the call to active duty again. He was assigned to the thirty-fourth division at Camp Cody; was promoted to captain, commanding machine gun company of the thirty-third Infantry in February, 1918; went overseas that summer; was transferred Nov. 10, 1918 to the twentyeighth division. He was discharged at Camp Dix, N. J., on May 2, 1919.

Many have been his political honors. He was chairman of the state board of parole under Governor Kendall, has been city attorney for Ida Grove for 10 years, was named chairman of the state board of assessment and review in 1931 with the responsibility of setting up the Iowa "three-point" tax system. Governor Herring named him for
the important insurance commissioner's post last July 1. He was Iowa department commander of the American Legion in 1925.

The following story is typically "Murphy." In 1922 Murphy and two clients were riding in an auto in in Montana national forest. The car plunged over an embankment and started down the mountain side. Miraculously, jutting rocks halted its course and suspended the car almost in "midair" as the saying goes, 500 feet above a stream bed. Murphy was cut and bruised but managed to climb to safety. He didn't tell Mrs. Murphy about it for two years.

"So long as I wasn't killed, why should she be worried?" he asked.


Ida Documents maintained by Tonja Winekauf.
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