When I learned of his recent passing away, I realized that Joe Murphy influenced me in many ways as a young man growing up in Guam. He was Guam’s premier news man as Editor of the Pacific Daily News. On an island thick with politics and family bias, Joe was able to practice pure journalism, adding a more balanced view of the issues and news of the day. He often did it with that biting humor that understood well the culture of the island and loved it.
He stuck to his guns when it came to hard news even under the most difficult and hardest of circumstances. His editorials were sometimes critical and sharp, especially in terms of government mismanagement.
We needed his voice on the island. It was clear and it was the truth.
His articles and the paper itself have also chronicled Guam’s history during this time period. He adds to his hat – Unofficial Historian. He offers a unique perspective to the events of his time.
He inspired me to investigate a career in journalism. I have dabbled in it sister careers of public relations and public communications. I have also been able to follow him in some small part with some of my own editorials (a couple for the PDN). I love words and writing. I love freedom of expression. I love the power of the pen, the typewriter, the keyboard, etc.
Joe was an example of free speech personified. I have met the man a few times in my life.
One time I met him on a chance meeting while I was on a Church Mission in Abingdon, Virginia. I was attending a play at an historical playhouse with church members. To my surprise, Joe and his wife were in attendance. They were vacationing at the time in the area. I was able to visit with them. It was one of the most memorable experiences of my life. He even did an editorial in the PDN about it. I was glad, mainly for mother, who received an eyewitness account that I was fine and doing well.
Guam has lost an Icon and a Hero. Joe Murphy will be forever etched in the island’s legacy as one of the greatest shapers of its destiny.