In 1961 Mike Murphy was a senior at Saint John’s and captain of a Johnnie tennis team coached by one of his English professors, Fr. Alfred Deutsch, OSB. Mike played first singles and joined with his St. Paul Cretin High School pal, Wayne Belisle (’62), on the first doubles team. Mike also was a four-year starter on the hockey team, playing under coach John Gagliardi. Fr. Alfred, a fellow St. Paulite (a “Rice Street boy,” as Mike refers to him), was the nephew of Saint John’s legendary Abbot Alcuin Deutsch.
Mike credits Fr. Alfred with instilling in him a solid understanding of and love for literature and the English language. As a junior at Saint John’s he wrote a play, Back of the Rain, that was produced in his senior year and played to “sold-out” audiences at both Saint John’s and Saint Ben’s. Mike went on to teach English at St. Olaf College before going to law school, after which he joined Medtronic as staff international counsel. In 1980 he was invited by the Minneapolis law firm of Faegre & Benson (now Faegre Baker Daniels) to start up their international business law practice. He retired from Faegre in 2004. In retirement Mike has been teaching a seminar on The Law in Literature at the University of St. Thomas Law School in Minneapolis, and he has also been writing poetry. He and his wife, Jane, live in St. Paul.
Mike has also made time over the years to keep up his tennis game and skating. At age 77, he’s an active member of The Minikahda Club in Minneapolis, where he plays tennis three times a week. He also keeps a pair of hockey skates in the back of his car, always ready for a tour (weather permitting) around the outdoor rink at the Roseville Oval.
Mike has never forgotten his friend, English professor, and tennis coach, Alfred Deutsch. When approached to assist with funding the new tennis courts at Saint John’s, one of Mike’s first questions was whether he could have a court named for Fr. Alfred. To help fund the construction of the new courts, Mike helped in two major ways. First, he and Jane made a major gift to the project. Second, Mike wrote letters seeking additional support from English majors who were in school during the four years he was at Saint John’s. His letters have raised both cash and memories.
Mike still makes good use of the literary education that he received at Saint John’s. A collection of his poems, Songs of Crocus Hill, will be published next month by Archway, a division of Simon & Schuster.
[Editor’s note: In the photo Mike stands on one of the new tennis courts at Saint John’s.]