William Francis Murphy was born May 11, 1885 in Kalamazoo. He was the youngest of 10 children and only boy born to his Irish immigrant parents. In was in Rome’s cathedral in 1908, that he was ordained to the priesthood to serve in the then Diocese of Detroit. He was pastor of the city’s St. David Parish when he received is appointment to be the first bishop of Saginaw upon its establishment in February 1938., Bishop Murphy was formally consecrated to the Episcopal rank six days after his 53rd birthday.
Under his leadership, the young Diocese of Saginaw gained a reputation for social and charitable work among the poor, especially for migrant works and victims displaced by World War II both home and abroad.
Biographers remember Bishop Murphy’s “jovial Irish spirit” and “jolly wit.” It is said that he once visited a burglar in jail who had broken into the bishop’s residence; after he joked with the man about their common surname, he admonished him to return to the practice of the Catholic faith. He also was known to preside at the marriage of some of Saginaw’s poorest couples “to give them a day to remember.”
He died on Feb. 7, 1950.