Mary Ellen Bibby Murphy, Rapid City, South Dakota, was a city girl who grew to love the wide open spaces of her Hermosa ranch. She is known as the woman with hats. And she knows what it means to work hard, yet be a proper lady.
She shares the honor of being named an Eminent South Dakotan with her late father-in-law, Paul C. Murphy, who was named an Eminent Farmer in 1936.
When Mary Ellen married Francis "Murph" Murphy in 1939, people couldn't imagine a town girl like her living on a ranch in the isolated foothills. But she loved it! She was so devoted to the land that she managed it for 13 years following the death of her husband. More recently, she has moved to a retirement village in town where it's more convenient to go to plays and concerts and where she can continue her gardening and sewing interests.
Mary Ellen has always been regarded as somewhat of a character. The secret is that she can laugh at herself. She is known far and near for hats she wears. She grew up in a time when hats were proper for little girls and her liking of them extends far beyond the dictates of fashion.
Mrs. Murphy was a home economics teacher prior to her marriage. Since that time she has been active in the Rapid City Area Home Economists, District A South Dakota Home Economics Association and the state association. She feels strongly about supporting her profession. Homemaking was--and is--her profession.
She shared her homemaking talents as a volunteer 4-H leader for 16 years. She wanted to teach young girls not only to cook and sew but to learn the art of homemaking. She was also active on the Western Junior Home Economics Show Board for 16 years. Two daughters, Kathy and Helen, were IFYEs to Turkey and Nepal; the family also hosted visiting IFYEs at the ranch.
She is proud of her homemaking daughters: Frances Twitero, Sisseton, South Dakota; M. Kathleen Wachsmuth, Jobstown, New Jersey; Helen Bell, Rapid City, South Dakota; and Margaret Anne Murphy, St. Cloud, Minnesota. They have provided four grandchildren to the family roster.
Pride in her own family sparked an interest in genealogy; she has collected information on the Murphy family and is in the process of organizing it. She also enjoys art and the aesthetics of decorating, gardening and landscaping, cooking, needlework, flying kites, playing bridge, hiking with her grandsons and sewing. She also finds time to be active in her St. Michael's Church, the Rapid City Women's Center and has helped establish land-use zoning in the Black Hills area.