Marilyn O. Murphy


"Marilyn Murphy is a feisty little grey-haired grandmother in her early 60s who is quite capable of forming coalitions with warring factions if necessary to achieve a worthwhile goal."
—Nancylee Ziese, 1983

Marilyn O. Murphy has opened doors for others and serves as a role model for many, often by being the first woman to serve in traditionally male groups. She is an outstanding community volunteer and leader in social services and human rights in the Sioux City area. Her ability to achieve worthwhile objectives by forming coalitions from disputing factions is remarkable. The extensiveness of her volunteer involvements is evidenced by the variety of areas in which she has been effective: crime prevention, day care, sexual assault and domestic violence, drug abuse, juvenile justice, rural concerns/family farms, and civil rights. Since 1973, she has been Social Concerns Facilitator for Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Sioux City. She was the first woman to serve on the Council of Community Services and the Iowa Commission on Substance Abuse. She was also the first president of the Community Action Agency and chaired the Sioux City Human Rights Commission for three years. Murphy cofounded the Sioux City Chapter of the Women's Political Caucus. Among the many community service awards she has received are the Briar Cliff College Community Service Alumni Award, Kiwanis Club Community Service Award, and the Sioux City BPW Community Service Award. Murphy was inducted into the Iowa Women's Hall of Fame in 1988.

Murphy received the Cristine Wilson Medal for Equality and Justice in 2007.  

UPDATE: Murphy remains the social concerns facilitator for Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Sioux City, and is also serving in the capacity of Rural Life Contact for the Diocese. She serves on the boards of directors of La Casa Latina, Legal Services of Iowa (Sioux City Office), the Missouri River Historical Development Corporation, and the Iowa Citizen Action Network. She is also a member of the Diocesan Commission on Women, the Iowa Advisory Committee to the U.S. Civil Rights Commission, and the Iowa Family Farm Coalition. She has emphasized her participation in local, regional, and statewide coalitions addressing the rural crisis. She has produced five videos in the past six years, one in English and Spanish on domestic violence titled Love Shouldn’t Hurt; two in English and Spanish on child sexual abuse titled Trust Shouldn’t Betray and Healing the Wounded Spirit; and Reclaiming Our Rural Heritage: Responding to the Rural Crisis and Women: A Wellspring of Strength in the 21st Century Church. Murphy was active in her local campaign for the passage of the Equal Rights Amendment.