Jill M. Murphy

June 3, 1956October 11, 2020

As part of honoring Jill Mary Murphy’s lifelong endeavor to use humor to get through difficult situations and always trying to find the bright side of life, the sentiments in this obituary were requested by Jill in the months leading up to her shuffle off this mortal coil.

Jill Mary Murphy was born on June 3, 1956 and welcomed into life by parents Shirley and William Murphy in Midland, Michigan. She left the Earth too soon on October 11, 2020.

Jill attended elementary school at Blessed Sacrament before attending Northeast Intermediate and Midland High School. In high school, Jill avoided biology classes because the work involved “squishy” things and math classes because, “there is no real-world use for calculus.” Jill graduated from James Madison College of Michigan State University with the plans to become an attorney. To all out there who paid Jill with either cash or alcohol to proofread and type your term papers, she said, “You are welcome.” After working in Washington D.C for a short period of time, Jill returned home to work for the State of Michigan for the balance of her career, in both the legislative and executive branches. Remarkably, she worked directly for 3 sitting Governors and officially retired as Chief of Protocol in 2011. Travels for work took her all over the world, including Europe, the Middle East, and Asia. Jill could not believe that she traveled all over the globe meeting government officials and dignitaries but somehow never made it west of the Mississippi River. When a former member of the Governor’s Michigan State Police detail learned of her passing, he said that Jill was the ‘LeBron James of government travel.’ It took a team to pull off a trip with a sitting Governor, but you wanted Jill on the trip if you wanted it to go well.

While Jill’s career was firmly planted in government, her two passions in life were genealogy and photography. She had an amazing knack to discover mundane and not-so mundane details of her family tree, including an accused Salem witch. And she was fiercely proud of being Irish.

If you have been lucky enough to see her photographs, you know that she had an amazing gift to capture the spirit of animals in her photos. She loved taking photographs of “aminals” (as Jill called them) as long as the animals were not humans or snakes. Jill referred to sloths as her spirit animal and soon realized that taking pictures of sloths was rather challenging because they tend to stay in a ball and sleep most of the day.

Jill is survived by her mother Shirley Sanburn of Midland, Uncle Gerald (Jerry) and Aunt June Mahony of Bay City, many cousins both in the US and Ireland, and numerous close friends. In addition to human survivors, Jill recently adopted feline son and house panther, Kylo Ren Murphy, who is wondering who is going to feed him as many treats as his mother did.

Jill was preceded in death by her father William Murphy, stepfather Robert (Bob) Sanburn, Aunt Peggy Weed, and two feline children Zhivago and Cricket Murphy. Services for Jill will be held at Blessed Sacrament Parish, 3109 Swede Road, Midland, Michigan on Friday, October 16, 2020 with visitation from 10a -11 am. A Funeral Mass will begin at 11 am with Father Robert Howe presiding.

Interment will take place at St. Patrick Cemetery and Mausoleum in Bay City.

If you would like to continue Jill’s legacy of supporting worthwhile endeavors, in lieu of flowers, donations may be made in her memory to Hospice of Lansing or the Detroit Zoological Society Endowment Fund. Both agencies exemplified compassion and professionalism in her final days and her family and friends are forever grateful.

A celebration of Jill’s life will be held in the Lansing area in the spring. Share memories at


  • Visitation

    Friday, October 16, 2020

  • Funeral Service

    Friday, October 16, 2020


Jill M. Murphy

have a memory or condolence to add?

Hollie McCafferty

October 17, 2020

Our family met Jill through our father as he was her friend and neighbor. It wasn’t long and she became part of our family, “one of us girls.” She was wonderfully kind and helpful in many ways. Dad will be warmly welcoming his “Little Irish Lass” in heaven. ~The Hethorn Family

Dawne Cohoon

October 14, 2020

Jill absolutely made the world a better place. I remember over the years more than once coming home after a bad day to find a note of encouragement and a lovely bottle of wine on my porch. She always took care of those she loved and had a sense of humor that was unparalleled. She was smart and kind and funny. She would always do the right thing even if it was to her own detriment. We used to spend hours on the phone talking about randomness. She was a good listener and problem solver and a loyal dedicated friend. I will miss Jill Mary Murphy, but her kindness will be something I will hold in my heart and never forget. RIP! Till we meet again.

Jane Pilditch

October 14, 2020

Jill and I worked together many many years ago and at one point shared an office in the Capitol. She was a wonderful mentor, and fun to work with. I so enjoyed her beautiful photographs. Such talent!!! I am saddened to learn of her passing.

Michael Traison

October 14, 2020

Jill was the consummate professional and although it’s been thirty years I remember her warmly from my days as President of the America Israel Chamber of Commerce


Sherwin Pomerantz

October 14, 2020

Jill, so sorry to hear of your passing. I remember fondly our cooperation when you were at MEDC and will cherish those memories. Rest in peace and may your memory be for a blessing.

Sherwin Pomerantz

Martina Schlagwein

October 13, 2020

Jill, my dear friend, I can’t believe you are gone. Those are the times when one is tempted to question God’s justice.
I owe you a mountain of gratitude for everything you taught me. You never got tired of my multitude of questions and always had my back during the numerous governor’s and CEO trips we had to manage. Your sense of humor made even the most stressful times go by easy!
May your soul rest in peace. I will never forget you and will always cherish your memory 💔

Kelli Rase

October 13, 2020

I am not good with words, but my heart is heavy. My dear cousin, you fought so hard to win the battle. You made me so proud. I will forever cherish our memories. You sure left your mark on this world. Love you forever.

Rhonda Pierce

October 13, 2020

Jilly Bean, I don’t have words about you being gone. But so much gratitude for you being in my life. You ushered me into the MEDC with kindness, thoughtfulness and support. I will always be grateful for you. I still have the framed pic of cricket you gave one year for Christmas. Fly high and enjoy the truly panoramic and picturesque view. You will always be missed.

Kelly Rogers

October 13, 2020

You were my favorite friend date. From a day of photography at the Detroit Zoo to the Star Trek exhibit which we both decided wasn’t big enough, I enjoyed EVERY SINGLE MOMENT you chose to spend with me. How lucky was I that you chose me? I will hold on to my 2020 calendar of your photos forever. You were wicked smart and a classy kind of sassy. You were a mentor and a dear friend. I will always miss you and honor your memory.

Kristin Creighton/Fahrenheit Massage

October 13, 2020

Jill was one of my first clients 5 years ago when I opened my practice. She could make me laugh until I had tears in my eyes. A sassy, smart, honest person. She was just an incredible human being. She will be missed dearly.


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