Life Story / Obituary
With an infectious smile and a welcoming heart, Cynthia Ann McMannes Murphy lived a life rich in faith and family. Honest, humble, and kind, Cynthia's greatest joy was her family. She relished in her role as wife, mother, grandmother, great grandmother, and great great grandmother. She loved nothing more than sharing and celebrating her loved one’s success.
Though 1938 held much to celebrate, including President Roosevelt’s signing of The Fair Standards Act, Hollywood’s film version of Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol,” and Seabiscuit’s astonishing “Race of the Century” win, the continued challenges of the Great Depression coupled with the systematic persecution of Jews in Europe, spread concern and fear across the globe. Despite the obvious gloom of the Great Depression and the growing conflict in Europe, many families found the way to continue to center their lives in love and hope for a brighter future. Nowhere was that hope more evident than in Jefferson, Pennsylvania as Sherman Albert McMannes & Isabel Delores English McMannes Sherman welcomed their daughter Cynthia into their hearts and home on October 31.
Growing up in southwest Pennsylvania, Cynthia enjoyed the good company of her older sister and her two younger brothers. While their father worked as a coal miner in The Mather Mine, their mother was a homemaker. As her father was one of 19 children, and her mother was one of eight, Cynthia grew up with a large extended family. The small coal-mining community also provided a deep sense of family. The small village of Mather, Pennsylvania consisted of ten streets and had “Liar’s Den” gazebo where townspeople met to tell stories and discuss current and historical events.
Dolly Barbetta & Darlene Harvilla were Cynthia’s best childhood friends. The girls created many fond memories together that proved lifelong treasures. Cynthia enjoyed sledding, coal mining company picnics, and traveling to Kennywood Park in West Mifflin, PA on a coal mining company train and buses. During high school, she had great fun as a majorette at Jefferson High School, and she proudly represented her class as a May Day Attendant.
Cynthia was a daddy’s girl through and through. Any time spent with her daddy was a treat. She especially enjoyed going to church with him. She never hesitated to share the mile walk each way just to spend time with him.
In the early 50s, Cynthia was blessed to meet the love of her life, Thomas E. Murphy. While attending a dance at Blanch’s in Clarksville, PA, Tom found himself instantly smitten with Cynthia. He was moved by the way she carried herself. Though beautiful and talented, Cynthia was like no other girl he had ever known; where she had so much room to be boastful and pretentious, instead she was modest and unassuming. People naturally gravitated to her because of her kindness, pure heart, and genuine love for people. Both terrific dancers, soon Tom and Cynthia were gliding across the dance floor and falling in love.
On July 3, 1954, Cynthia and Tom married and began their long life together. In time, the young couple was blessed by the births of their four children, and Cynthia began the most rewarding chapter of her life. She was an absolutely wonderful mother to Tommy, Tammy, Joni & Kelly. There was nothing she wouldn’t do for her family. A hands-on mom, Cynthia was often a homeroom mother in each of her children’s classrooms. She also served as a Girl Scout leader, a Sunday School teacher, and a youth leader.
With great wisdom, Cynthia and Tom consciously built their marriage and family life with strong traditions that would provide a sound foundation. One of these traditions was their daily “Fellowship” practice. Each day after Tom arrived home from work, the two of them sat at the kitchen table and talked about the day, their plans, their dreams, their calendar. “Fellowship” lasted about 30-60 minutes, and the children all knew how much their parents valued this time and did not interrupt.
Another family tradition Cynthia always looked forward to was the result of Tom’s work at The Lincoln Electric Company in Euclid, OH where he worked for 41 years. Each December the company shared their profits with their employees, and Tom would receive a fairly large check. The night Tom received his check was known as “Bonus Night.” On “Bonus Night,” Cynthia and Tom would take their four children out to a nice restaurant for dinner and then travel from store to store shopping for long-desired goods. Cynthia loved spilling out generosity onto the people she loved.
Family reunions, family holidays, and family trips and vacations always proved a good time for Cynthia. She always hosted holidays in her home and often invited others who didn’t have family or a place to go. In her heart, everyone was welcome. She and Tom hosted dinner at her house every Sunday afternoon for all of her family with a few other special guests sprinkled in. The menu was always the same--spaghetti, salad, and garlic bread. It was not unusual for her to feed between 20-30 people every Sunday following church.
One of Cynthia’s favorite moments happened when her husband purchased her dream home. Early in their marriage, they lived in a one room flat. Then they moved into an apartment over a wash house in a trailer park. From there they moved into a 27’ trailer in Cox’s Trailer Park in Kirtland, OH. Cynthia was delighted when three years into their marriage in 1957 they bought a 3 bedroom home on a 50’ X 144’ lot in Mentor, Ohio. Just 19 years later, In 1976, Cynthia discovered her dream house was for sale. It was a historic home with all of the unique characteristics intact. Knowing how much she loved it, Tom negotiated with the owners and purchased the home at 11:00 pm on a Saturday night. Cynthia was thrilled. With undeniable joy, she walked through the house wide-eyed saying, “I can’t believe this is mine. I can’t believe I’m going to live here!”
Another great moment for Cynthia was when she and Tom provided her parents with their very first car. Later, when her father retired from working in the mine, her parents moved to Ohio. Cynthia loved her father so much, and she was thrilled when she and Tom were able to gift her parents with a lovely retirement home to use as their own.
A woman of many interests, Cynthia loved history. She researched historical documents, cemeteries and family genealogy. She spent many, many hours at the Lake County and Geauga County Courthouses. She loved living in Mentor and had lived there so long, she was truly a community historian. She was called upon often to bring clarity to historical questions regarding Mentor. For many years she volunteered for the Lake County Historical Society. She proudly worked on the Mentor Bi-Centennial Committee and had a large part in creating the book that was used for their Bi-Centennial.
A woman of deep faith, Cynthia was very involved in the Church of the Nazarene. She first attended with her father in Jefferson, PA where the cornerstone of her faith was established. While attending the Painesville, OH Church of the Nazarene with their four children, Tom accepted Christ as his Savior at the age of 32 and their family was forever changed.
Though she loved and faithfully attended other churches over the years, she often declared with unwavering resolve, “I am a Nazarene; I will always be a Nazarene.”
As her children grew and began families of their own, Cynthia’s joy grew too. In time she was gifted with 12 grandchildren, 23 great-grandchildren, and 1 great-great-grandchild who were clearly her heart’s delight. In each of their eyes, she could see the spark of her loving legacy as well as her deepest hopes for the future.
When Tom retired early, he and Cynthia were gifted with time to travel. They began their adventures with a trip to California where they drove up and down the coast over a three week period exploring nature’s splendor. Over the years, they enjoyed many cruises together with family and friends. They traveled by air, boat, and train throughout Alaska and explored the west by Amtrak train. Some of their “grandest” adventures together took place on their front porch where they enjoyed countless cups of coffee and the contentment of one another’s companionship. Tom and Cynthia were blessed to have been married for 64 years.
Without a doubt, it is difficult to think about life in the absence of Cynthia’s bright and beautiful presence. May it afford deep comfort to know that her legacy lives on in the hearts and lives of those she loved so deeply. With each holiday table we set, smile we generously share, moment of success we celebrate, and prayer of gratitude we say, we keep the light of her spirit burning brightly and inspiring others as she so inspired us.
Cynthia Murphy, of Mentor, OH went home to be with her Lord on Monday, February 11, 2019 at the age of 80. She is preceded in death by her son, Thomas E. Murphy, Jr in 2010; and her parents: Sherman & Isabel McMannes. She is survived by her husband of 64 years, Thomas E. Murphy, Sr, of Mentor, OH; three daughters: Tammy (James) Gunvalsen, of Mentor, OH; Joni (Eric) Sheck, of Mentor, OH; Kelly (David) Downs, of Vicksburg, MI; 12 grandchildren: Bridget (Murphy) Richey, Gwendolyn (Murphy) Lehman, Thomas E. Murphy III, Joshua Gunvalsen, Meghan (Gunvalsen) Bileci, Kelly (Baker) Tenney, Erin Baker, Shannon (Sheck) Rigg, Patrick Sheck, Ashley (Downs) Robbins, Chelsey (Downs) Sanchez, and Katlyn (Downs) Gerstenberger; 23 great grandchildren, and one great great grandchild. Cynthia is also survived by her sister: Sandra (Vaughn) Fox, of Concord, OH; two brothers: Clinton “Buzz” (Cynthia) McMannes, of Mentor, OH; Keith (Linda) McMannes, of Eden, NC; and daughter-in-law: Joyce Murphy, of LaGrange, KY.
Cynthia’s Celebration of Life service will be held Monday, February 18th at 11am at the Painesville Church of the Nazarene, 6235 Chestnut Street, Painesville, OH. The family will receive friends on Sunday from 5 to 8pm at the church.
Please visit Cynthia’s webpage at www.mccowensecord.com where you can read her life story, sign the guestbook, and share a memory.
The family is being served by the McMahon-Coyne-Vitantonio Funeral Homes, Mentor Chapel, 6330 Center Street, Mentor, OH 44060 (440-255-1655).