Barbara Murphy of Ann Arbor, Michigan, passed away on Oct. 10, 2020, at the University of Michigan Hospital after a sudden and brief illness.

Barbara Murphy
Barbara Murphy

Murphy was born in Brooklyn, New York, on March 23, 1945, to Alfred and Rose Steinberg. She grew up in Queens, New York, graduated from Jamaica High School and moved to Ann Arbor to attend the University of Michigan when she was 16.

She married former spouse Bill Murphy in 1965. She graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in linguistics and psycholinguistics in 1967 and continued with graduate work in educational psychology. Always politically engaged, she was an early member of Students for a Democratic Society, where she made lifelong friendships.

Murphy made Ann Arbor’s Old West Side her home — where, since 1964, she was a beloved neighbor, friend and activist — and U-M her professional home. Her 33-year career with U-M began in 1967 as an editor at the Institute of Labor and Industrial Relations, later secretary at the Institute for Social Research’s Survey Research Center, followed by positions as a computer consultant, procedures analyst and ultimately research associate at the institute.

Active in the early days of women’s initiatives, she served as assistant chair of the Commission for Women in the Office of the University President from 1974-77 and in positions in the Office of Affirmative Action.

Murphy took a four-year hiatus from U-M to serve as director of the Equal Opportunities Office at Oakland University in Rochester, Michigan. She returned to U-M and served as administrative manager of the School of Natural Resources from 1984-90 and, after that, assistant to the dean for budget and personnel in LSA from 1990-2000, the position from which she retired.

Through both her professional work and her community service, Murphy exercised her passion for working for a socially just world and consulted for a variety of government and nonprofit organizations including Washtenaw County Assault Crisis Center, the Federal Programs Advisory Service and Health and Human Services “Higher Education and the Handicapped” project in Washington, D.C.

Her volunteer commitments included serving on the boards of the Guild House Campus Ministries, Old West Side Association, and the Huron Valley Girl Scout Council Finance Committee. She was elected for three terms to be a member of the Ann Arbor District Library Board of Trustees.

Early in her career she spent 15 months at the Turkish Development Foundation in Ankara, Turkey, assessing needs for computer software systems and systems analysis.

In 1977, while also visiting Great Britain, Germany and France, she met her husband-to-be, Gavin, in Scotland. They each traversed the Atlantic several times before Gavin emigrated to the United States in 1979. Barbara married Gavin Ramsay Eadie in Ann Arbor on Nov. 16, 1984.

Subsequently, Barbara and Gavin made many journeys together, often with friends, to Great Britain, Alaska, Antarctica, Australia, Italy, France, the Galapagos Islands, Turkey and the Black Sea, the Baltic Sea and nearby countries.

She is survived by her husband, Gavin Eadie; her sister, Lynda Steinberg (Tony Jiga) of Manhattan, New York; and her niece Alexandra Jiga (Geoff Abbott) of Rockland, Maine.

Submitted by Gavin Eadie

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