Great Lady That Will Be Missed
Murphy, widow of WWII hero and actor, Audie Murphy, died peacefully at her
home on April 8, 2010. She was the widow of the most decorated WWII hero
and actor, Audie Murphy, and established her own distinctive 35 year career
working as a patient liaison at the Sepulveda Veterans Administration
hospital, treating every veteran who visited the facility as if they were a VIP.
soldier or Marine who came into the hospital got the same special treatment
from her. She would walk the hallways with her clipboard in hand making sure her
boys got to see the specialist they needed.
they didn't, watch out. Her boys weren't Medal of Honor recipients or movie
stars like Audie, but that didn't matter to Pam. They had served their
country. That was good enough for her. She never called a veteran by
his first name. It was always "Mister." Respect came with the
could cut through VA red tape faster than Mrs. Murphy," said veteran
Stephen Sherman, speaking for thousands of veterans she befriended over the
years. "Many times I watched her march a veteran who had been waiting
more than an hour right into the doctor's office. She was even
reprimanded a few times, but it didn't matter to Mrs. Murphy. "Only
her boys mattered. She was our angel."
Audie Murphy died broke in a plane crash in 1971, squandering millions of
dollars on gambling, bad investments, and yes, other women. "Even
with the adultery and desertion at the end, he always remained my hero,"
went from a comfortable ranch-style home in Van Nuys where she raised two
sons to a small apartment - taking a clerk's job at the nearby VA to
support herself and start paying off her faded movie star husband's debts. At
first, no one knew who she was. Soon, though, word spread through the VA that
the nice woman with the clipboard was Audie Murphy's widow. It was like
saying General Patton had just walked in the front door. Men with tears in
their eyes walked up to her and gave her a hug.
you," they said, over and over.
first couple of years, I think the hugs were more for Audie's memory as a
war hero. The last 30 years, they were for Pam.
year she was asked to be the focus of a Veteran's Day column for all the
work she had done. Pam just shook her head no.
them, not me," she said, pointing to a group of veterans down the
hallway. "They're the ones who deserve it."
vets disagreed. Mrs. Murphy deserved the accolades, they said. Incredibly,
in 2002, Pam's job was going to be eliminated in budget cuts. She was
considered "excess staff." "I don't think helping cut
down on veterans' complaints and showing them the respect they deserve, should
be considered excess staff," she had said. Neither did the
veterans. They went ballistic, holding a rally for her outside the VA
gates. Pretty soon, word came down from the top of the VA. Pam Murphy
was no longer considered "excess staff."
remained working full time at the VA until 2007 when she was 87.