- The Washington Times - Monday, July 24, 2006

James Thomas Murphy, former director of air transportation security for the Federal Aviation Administration, died June 3 of cancer at his home in Alexandria. He was 81.

Mr. Murphy was born May 27, 1925, in Chicago and grew up in New Rochelle, N.Y., where he and his older brother, Jack, acted as models for Norman Rockwell’s paintings.

He served in World War II as a bombardier with the 793rd Bomb Squadron on Tinian Island in the Pacific, where he flew 25 combat missions before his honorable discharge as a first lieutenant in 1946.

After graduating from Fordham University and embarking on a career in sports journalism, Mr. Murphy joined the FBI in 1951. He spent nine years as a special agent in the Cleveland and D.C. field offices and also worked at FBI headquarters.

In 1958, J. Edgar Hoover sent Mr. Murphy to Hollywood as a technical adviser for the filming of “The FBI Story” starring Jimmy Stewart.

After leaving the FBI, Mr. Murphy embarked on a long career with the FAA, first as director of the Office of Compliance and Security in 1963 and then as deputy director of the Metropolitan Washington Airports (MWA).

He headed the Office of Air Transportation Security during the skyjacking resurgence in the early 1970s, and subsequently lobbied for the voluntary airline passenger screening process to be made mandatory, a change instituted in 1973 across the United States.

For his efforts, President Ford honored Mr. Murphy with the Department of Transportation Secretary’s Award for Outstanding Achievement.

He received the National Civil Service League Career Service Award for Special Achievement in 1974 for his efforts in developing policies to deter hijackings and was featured in the book “Skyjack: The Story of Air Piracy” by David Phillips.

In 1974, Mr. Murphy became director of MWA until his retirement from the federal government in 1979. He subsequently served as vice president of airspace and airports for the Air Transport Association of America for 10 years before retiring as a special consultant on the aviation industry for HNTB Corp. in 1994.

Mr. Murphy had lived in Alexandria since 1952. Known for his wit, wisdom and what he called his “Irish gift of blarney,” he stayed true to his commitments to never use a computer, play a video game, drink a light beer or wear a pair of blue jeans. He also was a Civil War buff, master of sports trivia and a Washington Redskins season-ticket holder.

Mr. Murphy’s first wife, Joanne Hill Murphy, died in 1998. Survivors include his wife, Elizabeth Scully Fagan Murphy of Alexandria; two daughters, Carolyn Murphy of Alexandria and Jean Bailey of Carson City, Nev.; two sons, Tom Murphy of Wayne, Pa., Paul Murphy of Alexandria; a stepdaughter, Kate Fagan-Nelson of Normal, Ill.; a stepson, John Fagan of Milwaukee; and 15 grandchildren.

Memorial contributions may be made to Children’s Hospital Foundation, 111 Michigan Ave. NW, Washington D.C. 20010 or Home Call Hospice Services Inc., 8245 Boone Blvd., Suite 403, Vienna, VA 22182.

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