Tennis 02

John Francis Murphy

April 25, 1937 ~ February 4, 2021 (age 83)


John Francis Murphy of West Chester, PA, beloved husband of Laura Sunstein Murphy, with whom he shared 31 years of marriage, died Thursday, February 4, 2021. Born in 1937 in Larchmont, N.Y., son of Dr. Jerry and Emilie (Tourtellot) Murphy, John initially planned to follow his father into medicine, but became intrigued with international law instead. He earned both his BA and his LL.B. degrees from Cornell University. Following law school, John was awarded a Ford Foundation Fellowship to work in India. Upon his return, John worked at Wall Street firms, and later in the legal advisor’s office for U.N. affairs at the U.S. Department of State, before turning to a career in academia.

He began as a law professor in 1969 at the University of Kansas Law School, and ended at Villanova University School of Law, where he had joined the law faculty in 1983, and remained until his retirement in 2014. John also traveled the world to participate in conferences, teaching in Aix-en-Provence, London, Mexico City, Paris, and Haifa, and at Cornell and Georgetown Law Schools, and The Naval War College. A true Irishman, John took pride in hard work, attested to by his numerous awards (including the 2011 Louis B. Sohn Award for Public International Law) and his authoring scores of law journal articles and books, including The Regulation of International Business and Economic Relations (published in 1991 with the late Alan C. Swan), a legal casebook that was awarded a Certificate of Merit by the American Society of International Law.

He served on dozens of boards and held a variety of advisor roles, but all his professional accomplishments pale in comparison with the pleasure he got from mentoring young colleagues and law students, the love he shared with his wife, and his dear friendships, many of which date back to his high school and college years when he played football, and to his State Department years. He adored playing tennis, dancing, good food and wine, the theatre, poetry, art, and world traveling. John, who was humble and had a fantastic sense of humor, was a voracious reader. A consummate gentleman, he did not take his good fortune for granted, calling it “the Luck of the Irish.” He would be as relaxed eating a sandwich while playing a card game with his grandchildren as addressing a formal crowd at a seven-course meal. He was a terrific story teller, and he felt real joy for others when they succeeded.

He is survived by his wife, two children, three step-children, and six grandchildren. His parents, and his sister Janet Dixon Murphy, predeceased him.

A private celebration of his life will be planned for a later date.

In lieu of flowers, consider a prayer for the betterment of the world, and, when the spirit moves you, donate to a charity of your choice. 

Arrangements by DellaVecchia, Reilly, Smith & Boyd Funeral Home, Inc. 610-696-1181


Funeral Service will be private and at the convenience of the family.

© 2021 DellaVecchia, Reilly, Smith & Boyd Funeral Home, Inc.. All Rights Reserved. Funeral Home website by CFS & TA | Terms of Use | Privacy Policy