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Winnie Murphey: A ‘gracious matriarch’

Longtime Princeton business owner dies

Winnie Murphey
Winnie Murphey

PRINCETON — As owner of Hoffman’s Patterns of the Past, Winnie Murphey was surrounded by pretty things. And perhaps all those lovely pieces of china and other charming items in her store were a reflection of her — as those who knew Murphey describe her as someone with a beautiful heart.

Longtime Princeton business owner Winnie Murphey died April 4. She was 90 years old.

Marjorie Johnson of Princeton knew Murphey for many years. Not only were they neighbors and friends, but Johnson said their children went to school together too.

“Winnie and Allen together made that beautiful store, and they were known all over the world. Winnie was a very sharp businesswoman, and she kept that store in A-1 condition,” Johnson said.

“I don’t know how many years she was in business on Main Street, but one of my favorite memories was going in there at Christmas time. It was always decorated so pretty, sparkly. And Winnie was always there to greet people and give them hugs,” Johnson said. “She will be deeply missed.”

Ron McCutchan of Princeton started working part-time at Hoffman’s in 2007.

“At that point, Winnie made it a point to be in the store for several hours everyday, to oversee what was going on but more importantly, to see who came in,” McCutchan said. “Winnie greeted every customer, old or new, as a friend. The repeat customers were old friends, and people who made the trip to Princeton and Hoffman’s even just once or twice a year got a hug and a catch-up conversation. In Winnie’s eyes, a visit to Hoffman’s wasn’t just about a sale, but about a welcoming experience.”

A frequent customer of Hoffman’s Patterns of the Past and a friend of Murphey, Kathy Clark of Sheffield said she always looked forward to seeing Murphey when she went to Hoffman’s to shop. After Murphey went to Greenfield Retirement Home in Princeton to live, Clark visited Murphey there.

“Winnie was a great businesswoman. Not only was she uplifting, friendly and helpful, she always had a positive comment,” Clark said. “I always admired her strength. Even when she was faced with personal inner struggles, she always had a smile on her face. She always wanted you to feel like she was going to be fine, regardless of what she was going through.”

Clark said the many items she has purchased at Hoffman’s throughout the years will remain a constant reminder of her longtime friend — especially a collection of Swarovski snowflakes.

“Even though those snowflakes were meant to be displayed in the winter, Winnie always encouraged me to keep them out all year long,” Clark said. “Winnie would say, ‘They’re too pretty to put away. I think I would leave them out all the time.’ And that’s just what I do. They stay out all year long, and I’ll always remember the good friend who urged me to do so. Now, when I walk by my collection of snowflakes, Winnie will surely come to mind. I will miss Winnie very much.”

Greenfield resident Ruth Edlefson said Murphey was part of a group of ladies who ate together at Greenfield. Edlefson also visited Murphey in her apartment, since their Greenfield apartments were across the hall from one another.

“I would go over, and we’d talk — mostly about our families,” Edlefson said. “Winnie knew so many people. She was a good friend to me. I really enjoyed talking with her ... Yes, we miss her.”

Phil Kaufmann, administrator at Greenfield, said the facility and staff are always honored to be home for many fine people — ones like Winnie Murphey.

“I think of Winnie as one of those gracious ladies of Princeton,” Kaufmann said. “She always seemed to be positive and have a smile. (My wife) and I would go in and sing for her when she wasn’t able to get out much. When you were interacting with her, she was genuinely interested.

“When I think of one of the gracious matriarchs of Princeton, I think of Winnie. She is truly missed,” he said.

Murphey’s obituary appears on Page 5.

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