Tom Murtaugh, a 25-year resident of Signal Hill, died peacefully in his sleep of respiratory failure on Feb. 16, 2011. Tom served in the Army and the Air Force in the Pacific during World War II and was among those preparing for the invasion of Japan when the atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima. After his discharge, he attended Illinois Institute of Technology for his degree in mechanical engineering. He was married for 61 years to Shirley, whom he met while both were in high school.
Murtaugh was “Dad” to three sons and five daughters: Tim, Barbara, Ter, Patty, Mary, John, Clare and Liz. In 1955 the family moved to Long Beach, where Murtaugh served the foundry industry, the last 40 years as an engineering consultant and president of Tom Murtaugh Inc. After “the chicks had all left the nest” or were in college or the service, the Murtaughs bought a condominium on Hill Street and sold the homestead to their kids.
During the early years, Murtaugh’s great joy was coaching Catholic Boys Baseball. He would often be found outdoors in the evening teaching neighborhood kids how to play catch and exhorting them to not neglect their homework. He loved to shepherd his family and a few area kids to the beach on weekends and then to a Tastee Freez for cones.
Being an Irishman through and through, Tom would give each child a dime to buy his/her cone; if he had bought them all himself, he would have had to pay the nickel sales tax. His guidance in fiscal soundness continued as he urged his adult children to put away five to 10 percent of their earnings in a “forget it” account every payday.
According to Shirley, her husband was faithful and true, steadfast and beloved. Murtaugh leaves Shirley, their children, 17 grandchildren and three great-grandchildren, with two on the way. He has been honored by the supervisors of the County of Los Angeles with a memorial in tribute and reverence.
Donations in his name to the Lakewood YMCA Strong Kids Campaign are welcome.