Royse Peak Murphy

Meriden, N.H. — Royse Murphy, Professor Emeritus at Cornell University, died peacefully Monday, Dec. 31, 2012, at age 98 at Cedar Hill Health Care Center in Windsor, Vt.

Born May 2, 1914 in Norton, Kan. to the late John and Mabel (Peak) Murphy, Dr. Murphy graduated from Kansas State College and earned a PhD. in plant genetics from the University of Minnesota in 1941. A WWII veteran, he served as radar officer aboard the USS Caswell, an attack cargo ship carrying supplies to the battle of Okinawa.

After the war, Dr. Murphy joined Cornell University as Associate Professor in 1946. He served as Professor (1948-1979), Chairman of Plant Breeding (1953-1964), Dean of the Faculty (1964-1967), and Professor Emeritus (1979-2012). During his career, he and his coworkers developed many varieties of alfalfa and forage grasses. Until suffering a stroke in June 2011, Dr. Murphy remained active in alfalfa research. With Dr. Lee B. Kass, he published The Evolution of Plant Breeding: a Centennial History 1907-2006.

When not at work, Dr. Murphy enjoyed gardening, hunting, fishing and hiking. Known as a raconteur, he enjoyed keeping up with his many graduate students.

He was predeceased by his wife, Mildred Sneed Murphy; daughter, Lynne Murphy; and brothers, Grayson and Roger.

His survivors include two daughters, Janice Ivkovich of Granger, Ind. and Jeanne Thompson of Meriden, N.H.; three grandchildren, and three great-grandchildren.

The family expresses its profound gratitude to the staff at Cedar Hill for the compassion and care given Dr. Murphy. In lieu of flowers, donations to the Munger/Murphy Award for Outstanding Graduate Students in Plant Breeding are welcome (Cornell University, Plant Breeding and Genetics Main Office, 240 Emerson Hall, Ithaca, New York 14853).

The Knight Funeral Home in Windsor assisted with the arrangements. Condolences may be expressed at