A Sacred Moment


Julie Louise Murfin

June 09, 1917 - June 07, 2015

A Joy To All Who Knew Her

Julie Louise Murfin was born in Virginia Minnesota on June 9, 1917 and died on June 7, 2015 in Seattle Washington, just short of her 98th birthday.

Julie Crinella grew up on the Minnesota Iron Range where her parents, Estella Lenci and Domenico Crinella, and grandparents, Mimi and Massimo Lenci and Francesco and Anna Crinella, had immigrated from Sassoferrato at the turn of the last century. When she was seven years old her mother returned to Italy to sing with the San Carlo opera and her father moved to Ukiah to become a master plumber. Julie lived in Hibbing with Delina Toni and her husband Ferrucio, also from Sassoferrato. Julie like her mother, was very musical, had a lovely soprano voice, studied violin, and played in the Hibbing Orchestra. She was raised as part of an extended Italian American community. Her godfather was Cesare Mondavi, the winemaker. She remembered as a young girl playing violin at a dinner for Fiorello La Guardia who later became mayor of New York.

Julie attended the University of Washington, majoring in music and education. It was there that she met her future husband Thomas Hawes Murfin. (They were introduced by Tom's brother Dick Murfin and his wife-to-be Martha Turner while they were all living in the UW Co-op residences which later evolved into Group Health Cooperative).

After a brief career teaching at Stevenson High School near the Gorge (where Miss Crinella was voted most popular teacher) Julie and Tom were married in Epiphany Church, Seattle, Washington on September 1, 1941.

Julie's first son, Asaph Michael, was born in Seattle, Washington, and James Walter a year later in Boulder, Colorado, where Tom attended the Japanese language program instituted during the war years. While the boys were still infants Tom served in Okinawa in the military government and Julie moved back to Minnesota to be near her cousins as she cared for the boys on her own. After the war Tom entered the Foreign Service as a career diplomat and Julie and Tom were posted to Japan where her daughters were born, Julie Anne in Yokohama, and Mary Jane two years later in Okinawa.

Julie spent most of her working life fulfilling the many duties then required of a diplomat's wife, first in Japan and then in Italy. She formed the Fujenkai Women's Group, sang with the Tokyo Madrigals and with the choir of Christ Church on the Bluff. She taught English, worked with the Japan America Women's Club sponsoring education for war orphans, and volunteered as a Grey Lady to visit and assist wounded Vietnam war veterans in the military hospitals, and continually attended and hosted events at the Consular Residence and Embassy. Wherever they were stationed, Julie and Tom were active members of the Episcopal or Anglican churches including at their last post, The Church Of The Holy Ghost in Genoa Italy.

After retiring from the Foreign Service in 1972, Julie and Tom first lived in Ilwaco, Washington where they worked with his brother Dick and his wife Martha, publishers of The Ilwaco Tribune.

In 1976, Julie and Tom bought a house in Olympia Washington, next door to Tom's mother Adella Hawes Murfin, and cared for her until she died at the age of 100+ years. While in Olympia Julie continued her graduate studies at St. Martin's College. The Murfins were active with St John's Episcopal Church assisting refugee families from the Viet Nam War. Members of these families became close friends and include Son and Ngoc Truong and their children Mei and Yen, who lived with her several years. Also, Tuan Ngyen, who Julie and Tom welcomed when she arrived in America by herself as a scared little girl and who is now a successful dentist in Atlanta.

Between 1986 and 2000, Julie and Tom lived on a farm in Bellingham, Washington. Besides enjoying the country life, caring for their daughters' mares and foals and working in their large vegetable garden and apple orchard, they were involved members of St. Paul's Church and Julie played with the Whatcom Symphony Orchestra.

After Tom died in 2000, Julie sold the Bellingham farm and moved to their Greenlake house in Seattle. Here she enjoyed season tickets to the Seattle Opera, attended many musical and ballet performances, and hosted family holidays. She became a regular member of Saint Andrew's Episcopal where she and Tom had attended whenever in Seattle. She enjoyed the weekly social hour, the book group, volunteering at the homeless dinner, and playing with the bell choir.

Then, always ready for something new, at age 89, she began her next adventure, spending winters in Tucson, Arizona in her own little apartment near her daughter and spending her summers at Greenlake. She did this for the next five years, greatly enjoying this new chapter in her life, visiting her cousin Elizabeth Lenci Downs, and exploring the Southwest.

Julie was able to live in her own home at Greenlake until the very last months of her life. She was supported, first by the daughters of the Truong family, then later by Julie's sons and their wives, who over several years took turns living in the attached apartment and helping her.

Throughout her entire life, Julie had a great love for music. She took an interest in the musical lives of all her grandchildren and great grandchildren, funding music lessons for them on the instruments of their choice. Because music had always been such an important part of her life, she wanted to share it with them.

Julie is survived by her four children, Asaph Michael Murfin, James Walter Murfin, Julie Murfin Pielemeier and Mary Murfin Bayley, twelve grandchildren, eight great-grandchildren and two great-great-grandchildren.

Julie's granchildren: Valerie Murfin, Cheryl Murfin, Laila Murfin, Alyssa Murfin, Matthew Murfin, Sarah Murfin, Malcolm Murfin, Joshua Pielemeier, Joel Pielemeier, Jasmine Pielemeier, Emma Bayley,Charles Bayley.

Julie's great grandchildren: Natasha Klamm, Nathan Boss, Madeleine Bond, Aidan Bond, Dmitri Murfin-Simmons, Granite Murfin-Simmons, Luna Murfin Paz, Itsani Murfin Paz.

Julie's great-greay grandchildren: Acacia Morley,Talon Bos.

Julie's face would light up with joy when someone she cared about approached her and she was always ready to relish good company and good conversation. That welcoming smile and energetic interest was a joy to all who knew her and remains a joy in memory.


A memorial service will be held on Saturday, Aug. 1 at 11am St. Andrews Episcopal Church in Seattle. In lieu of flowers, direct memorial donations to St. Andrews.

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