Mollie A. Wilson Murphy, a longtime resident of Boyle Heights and contributor to the Japanese-American National Museum’s “Boyle Heights: A Sense of Place” and supporter of the Boyle Heights Historical Society, passed away at the age of 88 on 23 August 2014.

Born on 6 January 1926, Mollie lived on Boulder Street between Evergreen and Sloat, just north of Evergreen Cemetery. She was a 1943 graduate of Roosevelt High School and had a direct connection to many Japanese-American friends who were forced into concentration camps during World War II.

Her correspondence, photographs and other memorabilia of those relationships formed much of the basis for her oral history interview with the Japanese-American National Museum’s Boyle Heights project in the early 2000s (her older brother Atoy as also an interview subject and active participant in the project) and Mollie donated material to the museum so that researchers can have access to a remarkable part of the wider story of Japanese-American internment.

Mollie Murphy

The “Background” statement to the “Collection Overview” for the Mollie Wilson Murphy Papers at the museum, includes this poignant quote from Mollie:

“As a child, I vividly remember that on my street alone there were ten different ethnic families residing harmoniously together. My mother learned to cook from Jewish people, because she had not been taught by her own mother. It often amazed me how my mother could communicate with Mrs. Kokoris or Mrs. Akahoshi, because neither of them could speak English and my mother couldn’t speak Greek nor Japanese! It goes to show, that when it comes to mutual problems, you don’t always need words to express your thoughts.”

Mollie spent her later years in Pasadena, where she resided when she passed away. A viewing will be held at Woods Valentine Mortuary at 1455 N. Fair Oaks Avenue, Pasadena, on Monday, 8 September from 3-7 p.m. A Rosary and viewing will be at St. Andrews Catholic Church on 311 Raymond Avenue, Pasadena on Tuesday the 9th from 7-9 p.m., followed by a memorial mass on Saturday the 13th at 8:00 a.m. A Celebration of Life brunch to remember Mollie will be after the mass at the St. Andrews Catholic School at 42 Chestnut Street, across from the church. Those attending the brunch might wish to bring fresh fruit, pastries or breakfast breads. For information on these events, contact Inde Murphy at 626-67-8459.

Mollie Wilson Murphy was of a generation of Boyle Heights residents during one of its most vibrant and interesting times–she will be greatly missed.

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