Chicago's “Picnic King” Dies at 59

He was always first in line for picnic permit

Jim "Moose" Murphy was Cook County's "picnic permit king."  

Each year from 1983 to 2002, he would make sure to get the first picnic permit issued by the county forest preserve district, eventually drawing much media attention.

Murphy, a longtime Chicago Ridge resident who formerly lived in Chicago's Mount Greenwood community, died  from mesothelioma, his family said. He was 59.

"When he did something there was no more dependable person than him," said his sister Beth Murphy, of Tinley Park. "When he said he was going to do something, it was happening. If he said he was going to do something every year, he did it."

Murphy and his roommate, Patrick "Duff" Duffy, lived in the same apartment since 1970, his sister said, and Murphy attended 38 consecutive Mardi Gras in New Orleans. In fact, he had tickets to attend the 2009 Mardi Gras.

"When he left the hospital (three weeks ago), his one wish was to go to Mardi Gras," Beth Murphy said.

Murphy battled the asbestos-related cancer for two years and participated in clinical trials at the University of Chicago Hospitals -- becoming the longest-surviving Stage 4 patient of his doctor, his family said.

Murphy last shaved Jan. 25, 1975, his last day in the Army Reserve, where he earned the rank of sergeant. For years, he would spray his beard white and play Santa Claus for his family and friends.

Born Oct. 7, 1949, in Chicago Murphy went to St. Kilian Catholic School and Mendel High School in Chicago. He was the oldest of six children.

Besides his sister, he's survived by two other sisters, Maureen Balich, of Oak Lawn, and Rosemary Prange, of Evergreen Park; brothers Bill Murphy, of New Lenox, and Patrick Murphy, of Mount Greenwood; and five nieces and nephews.

Visitation will be from 2 to 9 p.m. Sunday at Donnellan Funeral Home, 10525 Western Ave., Chicago. A funeral Mass will be at 9:30 a.m. Monday at St. Christina Church, 111th Street and Christiana Avenue, Chicago. Burial will follow at St. Mary Cemetery in Evergreen Park.

Contact Us