One of Haverhill’s First Women Assessors, Helene A. Murphy, Dies at 86

File photograph. (Image licensed by Ingram Image.)

Helene A. (McCaughey) Murphy.

Former Haverhill Assessor Helene A. (McCaughey) Murphy, 86, of Salisbury and formerly of Bradford, joined her beloved husband Martin in eternal rest on April 27.

Murphy, appointed by former Mayor William H. Ryan during the early 1980s, was one of the first women to serve on Haverhill’s reconstituted three-person board of assessors. Murphy, who rose to chair, served initially with assessors Mariana W. Morse and William J. Krajeski during a period of tumult following voter approval of the tax-limiting law, Proposition 2 ½.

She was born in Lowell on June 2, 1936, daughter of the late Francis M. and Caroline (Krzystyniak) McCaughey. Murphy grew up in the Back Central neighborhood of Lowell and was a graduate of Lowell High School, class of 1953, where she was captain of the cheerleader squad and a girl officer. She attended the former Lowell Teachers College (now UMass Lowell) and attended Boston University and Northern Essex Community College. After marrying Martin Murphy in 1956, she became a devoted mother to her two sons, Martin and Matthew, and lived in Ashland, Wilbraham, Groveland and Bradford. She was widowed in 1977 and remained solely and deeply dedicated to providing her sons with the best educational opportunities possible and a loving, stable home.

An avid traveler, Murphy loved cruises and also spent time in Europe, the Caribbean, and Ireland. She spent several winters in Pompano Beach, Fla. She loved dining on lobster at the Hungry Traveler in Salisbury and could often be spotted documenting her adventures via her ever-present arsenal of disposable cameras. She was happy to photograph people from all walks of life, from food service personnel to her medical team; some of them even consented to being photographed. Those who encountered her frequently heard “can I take your pitchah?” in her welcoming Boston accent. They were often photographed before they could answer!

She was elected assessor in Groveland and eventually became an assessor for the City of Haverhill. She became a leader in her profession and served as president of the Massachusetts Association of Assessing Officers and the Northeastern Regional Association of Assessing Officers. She was known and loved as a “social director” at many of the professional events she attended. She also served on the Groveland Housing Authority.

She was a devout member of Star of the Sea Church in Salisbury, Ladies Ancient Order of Hibernians of Newburyport, Haverhill Rotary Club and director of the Stevens-Bennett Home in Haverhill.

She was the wife of the late Martin A. Murphy and is survived by her two sons Martin F. Murphy and his wife Jill of South Boston, and Matthew D. Murphy and his wife Felicia of Sudbury; grandchildren Martin Murphy, Harrison Murphy and Dylan Murphy. She also leaves behind her loving sister Dr. Leona McCaughey Oreszak and her husband Gene Oreszak, of Framingham; as well as several nieces and nephews.

Relatives and friends are respectfully invited to attend the visitation on Monday, May 1, from 5-7 p.m. at the H.L. Farmer and Sons Funeral Home, 106 Summer St., Haverhill. Her Funeral Mass of Christian burial will be held Tuesday, May 2, at 10 a.m., at Star of the Sea Church, 18 Beach Rd. Salisbury. Interment will follow in the Riverview Cemetery, Groveland.

Contributions in her memory may be made to Star of the Sea Church in Salisbury.

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