Saying Good-Bye to Charlie: A Letter From Peggy
Dear PYE Community,
I am writing with the sad news that Charlie Murphy, our dear friend and leader of PYE, passed away peacefully at the turn of midnight on August 6. As many of you know, Charlie had been living with ALS for the past two years. He died as he lived with humor and grace and surrounded by the love of friends and family, especially his dear husband Eric Mulholland.
Charlie’s and Eric’s journey with ALS was made easier by the many of you who generously donated to the Charlie Murphy Healing Fund; helped with food, gardening, housekeeping, nursing, and everything else you could think of; and participated in the series of events celebrating Charlie. Every one of those events lifted his spirits. Thank you so much.
Eric and a close circle of friends and family tended to Charlie’s needs in his final days. One of his last wishes was to have a house concert with his favorite musician, Krista Detor. Krista flew from Indiana on Friday morning and performed a gentle concert for Charlie and a small group of friends that evening. Soon after the concert, when the house became quiet, Charlie settled down. He fell into a very peaceful state, and took his last breath cradled in the arms of his beloved Eric. When Charlie was first diagnosed with ALS, he said to Eric, “We will make this beautiful.” And they did.
I met Charlie 21 years ago, and immediately knew we were destined to be creative partners. When we ran our first Power of Hope Camp a year later, we knew we were in this for life, and I had the pleasure of working side by side with him all of these years. I have also had the pleasure of seeing so many of you jump in, and expand the seed that was the first Power of Hope Camp into a robust body of work that we can all take forward. This would not have happened without you. I loved Charlie from the start, but I can honestly say, my love and admiration rooted even more deeply as the years progressed. He was truly a unique, magnificent, and deeply gifted and loving man, and I miss him beyond words.
In Charlie’s final months and weeks, two things brought him great delight: spending time with his beloved Eric and hearing news of all of the great work you are doing in the world spreading creativity, kindness, and empowerment. Gwyn Wansbrough, our European Executive Director, arrived on Whidbey Island just six days before he died. For several hours, she sat at his bedside and updated him on all of your doings. When she’d ask him, “Do you want to hear more?”, he would get that crinkle of a smile and shake his head “Yes. Yes.”
Charlie died on the evening of the last day of our 20th anniversary Power of Hope Camp on Whidbey Island. The staff from the camp was partying at a home in Langley, a few miles from Charlie and Eric’s house. As midnight approached they began to sing through all of the songs they had sung during the week. At midnight, as Charlie passed, they happened to be singing a song called, “Now I Walk in Beauty.”
Charlie Murphy, you walked in beauty throughout your life. You touched so many hearts, you changed so many lives, and I, for one, intend to carry your legacy forward with my full heart.
Blessings to all of you,
Peggy Taylor, Co-founder PYE Global
We are holding a memorial celebration for Charlie on Thursday, September 1, at the Whidbey Institute on Whidbey Island, the birthplace of Power of Hope and PYE. The memorial will take place at 6 p.m., but plan to arrive very early. There will be creative activities and opportunities to spend time with friends starting at noon. We will send more information in a few days about food, accommodations, and parking. If you can’t join us on Whidbey, remember Charlie’s maxim, “The people who do good work throw the best parties!” Sing a song, light a candle, or raise a glass in celebration of our dear friend and colleague Charlie Murphy.