Muriel Herbert was born on August 21st, 1945. She was the first born child of M. Bruce Herbert and Florence Herbert (Abt) and the protective, loving sister of her younger siblings; Skip Herbert, Valerie Benner (Bob) and Ross Herbert. She grew up in Willow Grove, Pa and attended Upper Moreland High School. She married Michael McGowan and had three daughters; Kimberly McGowan White, Kristine McGowan Grow (Nelson) and Kelly McGowan. They were raised in Willow Grove and attended the same high school as their mother. After her marriage had ended, she reconnected with her high school sweetheart, Robert Berkheimer, Jr. and the two eventually married. Together, she and Bob raised Bob’s son, Robert Berkheimer, III (Jamie).
Muriel had been a strikingly beautiful woman, with movie star looks and a deep seated hatred of the name Muriel. She adopted the nickname ‘Murphy’ (given to her by her Irish ex) and used that name exclusively, cringing visibly whenever someone called her Muriel. She had an outgoing, bubbly personality and was always quick to laugh. She drew people in with her fun-loving nature and natural charisma. She had an obsession with corvettes, jet planes, little white dogs and the king. No, not Charles… Elvis Presley. She demanded complete silence from her own children and the many children she babysat whenever the king came on the radio. She took his 1977 passing exceedingly hard and grieved his loss for the remainder of her days. She was an absolute genius when it came to crossword puzzles and word games. She was an innovative cook and the creator of the famous dish “eggies and noonies” that will live on for generations. However, her significantly less appealing, chicken au gratin (referred to as ‘chicken all rotten’ by her ungrateful kids), will not.
Murphy had a love of children her entire life. A love that was returned, not only by her own children, but by all of the children who came into her life. She was an adoring grandmother to Thomas Gray, Alexander Gray, Michaela White, Elizabeth White, Olivia Gray, Aidan White, Katrina Gray, Kailyn Berkheimer, Charlize Berkheimer, Kelsey Berkheimer and Vaida Berkheimer. Just shy of two years ago, she became a great-grandmother to Ava Gray. She was the loving aunt of Tama Tisch-Rottensteiner (Jan), Benjamin Kapp and Jacqueline Herbert, and to her sister-in-law, Barbara Tafuri’s three children; Kristina Folly (Christopher), Jeffrey Ludmer and Brian Fee (who tragically passed in 1999). She was also the great aunt of Shawn Tisch-Rottensteiner, Tommy Tisch-Rottensteiner, Emily Tisch-Rottensteiner and Albert Kapp.
She became partially paralyzed following a stroke in 2011. Her damaged body (combined with an intense dislike of physical therapy) lead to her loss of mobility, independence and the ability to care for herself. Her family is immensely grateful to the dedicated staff at Heritage Pointe Rehabilitation and Healthcare Center, for the constant care they provided her.
Murphy succumbed to her failing health on August 1st, 2023, at 77 years old.
She once told her daughter that everyone in heaven is 33 years old (the age Jesus was when he was crucified). She wasn’t sure how she felt about religion, but she could certainly get behind that! For those of us who loved her, the idea of a beautiful, healthy, 33 year old Murphy, driving a corvette with her beloved westies in the backseat and Elvis serenading her while riding shotgun, brings comfort and a smile… much like Murphy herself.
From her daughters… Goodnight, pleasant dreams and we love you with all of our hearts.
Murphy’s celebration of life will be held at her daughter Kelly’s home, on Saturday, September 16th starting at noon.
Please wear bright happy colors, and bring your stories to share with her friends and family.