Filling Tom Murphy’s size 14 shoes | Bob Roegner

Tom Murphy

“And the days dwindle down to a precious few…” is the plaintive refrain that signals the passage of time to its inevitable conclusion.

And such marks next week, when Tom Murphy’s distinguished career as an educator and our superintendent of schools will come to a close.

In an effort to stave off that time, or at least rejoice in his impact on the school system, last week the community paused to reflect on his accomplishments.

The Federal Way School District serves as a beacon for innovation and progress. Two of our high schools rank among the best in the country.

But it was really Tom Murphy, the man that we came to honor and will miss. His retirement party captured the sentiment with the theme of “Celebrating a Leader” because his influence and impact has exceeded school district boundaries.

His reach into the fabric of the community and state was striking. He held influence from City Hall to the State Capital. But he exerted his thoughts and goals with such humility and grace that he developed followers and admirers, not opponents.

He could lead by words or inspiration, but his staff identified with his leadership by example. At this retirement party, he deflected praise and shared credit with current and former school board members and staff. He noted their success with comment that “together we did good work.”

The Federal Way School District has 22,500 students. Murphy believes all students, every last one of them, deserve a chance to succeed. Even if that means taking each child one by one and providing the personal guidance each needs.

In Murphy’s world, “all means all.”

If he needs to take children to the community, he will do it. If it means taking the community to the children, he will do it.

He will use that well polished Irish charm to ensure that the “kids get what they need.”

As one speaker commented, “How often do you see a 6-foot-5 Irishman?”

Well, probably not very often, but Murphy isn’t just a towering physical presence. He is a man of honor and integrity. Frankly, they don’t come along all that often.

Murphy believes “I’m a better person for having worked here.”

That may be, but we are a better community for having known you and learned from your lessons and service.

Like many, I consider Tom a friend and will miss his wit and wisdom. Next week, he retires and starts the next chapter of his life.

At the same time, we will welcome Rob Neu as our new superintendent. It will be an adjustment, as Neu has to fill some very big size 14’s.

Goodbye and good luck to Tom and Rosemary Murphy. Welcome aboard, Rob. We look forward to seeing where you will lead us.


Talk to us

Please share your story tips by emailing editor@federalwaymirror.com.

To share your opinion for publication, submit a letter through our website https://www.federalwaymirror.com/submit-letter/. Include your name, address and daytime phone number. (We’ll only publish your name and hometown.) Please keep letters to 300 words or less.

More in Opinion

Back to the wild — a whole new outdoor recreation world | Guest editorial

When enjoying the great outdoors, continue to socially distance and be aware of how else COVID-19 has changed our world.

KCLS is stepping up its commitment to patrons

KCLS has expanding its online resources so patrons can continue to learn, build skills, stay entertained and remain mentally and physically active amid the pandemic.

Fickle finger of fate has descended on Federal Way

Having a strong local government is a benefit to all of us in a crisis.

How using a face mask to cover my Asian face could put me in danger

Since the COVID-19 outbreak began, Asians and Asian Americans have been targeted.

Opinion: Public deserves honest information on sex education

The Washington comprehensive sex education bill passed in the Senate on March 7.

Grocery store staff are working hard to keep the shelves stocked during the COVID-19 pandemic. File photo
Thank you grocery store clerks

Recognizing the sacrifices of our unsung essential workforce.

To our elected officials: Be bold, be consistent, be honest, be helpful

By Patrick Grubb, Washington Newspaper Publishers Association Governor Jay Inslee has been… Continue reading

Baruso appointed to Federal Way Council amid chaos

There will be many other interpretations of the mayor’s actions, and this episode will have repercussions among the eight elected officials that run City Hall.

Federal Way trapped in a ‘Catch 22’

We are mediocre in a region that is rapidly becoming global, educated and economically relevant. We have a mountain to climb.

State of the City

Elections are next year, and with the high profile marketing for the event, the speech always sounds more like a “please vote for me” campaign kick-off.

Welcome to Olympia Mr. Johnson

Sometimes making a law isn’t pretty, and by the time everybody weighs in, that great idea may look completely different.

Mirror’s role in vetting Federal Way Council candidates

The Mirror conducted a background check on all 19 candidates who applied for the Pos. 2 vacancy.