MEMORIALS TO JESSIE
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Each year on December 26 we gather at the cemetery to honor Jessie's birthday. This year 20 balloons were released - one to represent each year.
Each year in December, Brook Hill United Methodist Church hosts an interfaith memorial service for the families of deceased children. On December 9, 2004 the 14th annual ceremony was held.
On September 17, 1999, Jessie's great-aunt and uncle, Frank and Mary D'Amore, made a gift to the Make-A-Wish Foundation in memory of Jessie.
The day of the first viewing family and friends gathered and tied pink ribbons on trees throughout the neighborhood. This wonderful tribute was repeated in December for Christmas and Jessie's birthday - in 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008 and 2009.
On March 4, 2000, a very moving tribute was made to Jessie. A younger cousin who will never have a chance to meet Jess, was given "Jessica" as her middle name:
Jessie's second cousin, Dorothy, is writing a book entitled "Jessica Moments". The dedication page is as follows:
This book is dedicated to Don, Sue and Brad, in loving memory of Jessica Lee Murphy, whose untimely departure inspired me to stop and recognize how very precious life is. Now, when we see a chance to enjoy life, nature, or simply each other, we stop and savor the times we share together. These precious times we now call.... "Jessica Moments".
In 2000, the Chicken Soup series was getting ready to publish a "For the Grieving Soul" addition to their line. Although this story wasn't chosen, that does not lessen the meaning to us. This is from Cindy, Jessie's aunt:
There are always events in everyone's life that you never forget, some that you hold dear in your heart, some that break your heart, and some that make your heart and head wonder about just how things are supposed to fit together. I received a call at my office on August 26, 1999, telling me that my niece, Jessica, was involved in a serious car accident, and all family members were being asked to come to the hospital where she had been transported by helicopter. I didn't have any details, but realized the seriousness of the situation with that kind of request. I left my office with such confusion and hurt, for Jessica and for all of us who loved her; her incredible smile, not just on her face, but in her whole personality and being. I had an hour to drive to my home to meet my husband, and the sky was very blue but filled with big clouds. I don't remember what was on the radio before or after that, but as I came over a hill, the sky opened up in a large cloud formation and the sun shone through in such brightness, with streams of golden light reaching down toward earth, and at that exact moment, I heard the words "in the arms of the angels" from a song, and I knew that whatever was occurring with Jessie, she was being looked after by someone other that just her doctors. Jessie died the next day, and I am sure that now she is still an angel, just in a different form than she was here on earth with us. I think about you every day Jessie, and I know your wings are brilliant and shining, just like you always were.
In high school Jessie's mom had a friend who she still stays in touch with. When Jessie reached her pre-teen years often she would make good, moral choices. Many times when this happened, Jessie's mom was reminded of this high school friend. Now that friend has a daughter who is the age Jessie was at the time of the accident. As a school project this sensitive and thoughtful young lady designed the following memorial:
A tree was planted in Jessie's memory by Melissa Aufmuth, a co-worker of Jessie's dad:
The Msgr. O'Dwyer Retreat house in Sparks, Maryland put in a sand volleyball court and new basketball systems in Jessie's honor. In light of Jessie's love for these sports - this was a wonderful memorial. Jessie visited the retreat house as a part of her confirmation ritual, and it holds many memories for the Murphy family.
A quilt was created by the kind and loving hands of a group of women who had never even met Jessie. It is made from Jessie's old T-shirts and will be cherished forever. Is is shown below with Jessie's brother and her cousins on her dad's side - it is a tradition for the cousins to do this picture the day after Thanksgiving each year as a gift for the grandparents. Jessie's cousins are wearing either an angel pin, a butterfly pin or a button picture of Jessie in her honor.
Governor Thomas Johnson High School Sports Boosters planted a garden and created a plaque for a student athlete who is sorely missed.
There is a star named "Jessica Lee" - this was arranged by Jessie's Uncle David and Aunt Paula as a gift for the family:
The high school newspaper had an article dedicated to Jessie in the Fall '99 edition:
A mural of a butterfly garden was painted on the wall in the basement at Jessie's house by her
family and high school friends:
A VCR tape of Jessie was created by a friend of Jessie's for the family by splicing many tapes together:
A friend of Jessie's compiled songs that reminded her of Jessie, and presented a tape to the family.
A book titled "Jessica Lee Murphy" was written by a neighbor and turned in as a school project - definitely an "A" project.
Many, many "Jessie Trees" have been planted throughout Virginia and Maryland:
Many, many butterfly bushes have been planted. The one given to the Murphys by their good friend Nathaniel attracts many beautiful butterflies each summer:
Benches have been placed, with memorial plaques
Jessie was named one of the "1999 Athletes of the Year" in a ceremony held at the Frederick SportsPlex on January 17, 2000:
Frederick Christian Academy had a trophy case built with a plaque in memory of Jessie.
Hymnals at Saint John's Church have been bought in memory of Jessie.
Key chains were created in Jessie's memory. For a period of time a key chain was offered to newly licensed drivers in Frederick County.
Saint John's has had dances and a pool parties dedicated in Jessie's memory - key chains were offered to the newly licensed drivers.
Many lights were placed on the Frederick Memorial Hospital tree at Christmas time in Jessie's memory.
Many Easter lilies were bought in dedication to Jessie.
A picture of a butterfly taken by Jessie's uncle in his garden, was named "Jessie's Spirit". It was displayed at an art show in Virginia:
Hundreds of visitors to the cemetery have left countless tributes to Jessie - poems, letters, pictures, flowers, and cards.
A page in the 2000 Thomas Johnson year book was dedicated to Jessie. It had a poem by Jessie's best friend along with pictures and quotes from many of her other friends.
The first annual Jessica Murphy Memorial Scholarship was awarded to Angela Sintes on June 1, 2000.
See Annual Scholarships for subsequent recipient list.
Luminaries were lit in Jessie's honor in the Race for the Cure held at the Frederick Fairgrounds on the weekend of June 3, 2000.
A Jessica Murphy Memorial Volleyball Tournament was held on June 3, 2000. See 2000 Volleyball Tournament for details.
Hundreds of people participated, either by playing or volunteering their time. All funds raised were placed into the scholarship fund.
For information on subsequent tournaments, see the Tournaments page
Over Mother's Day weekend in 2005, a young neighbor made an awesome tribute to Jessie. As her senior project, Kendall Klosky chose to beautify the area around Jessie's tree at Spring Ridge Elementary. She shared this story with us:
Well I have a little story to tell from the project that I thought you might like. My family, a couple of my friends and I were working on my graduation project up at the school. After we completed everything we started to clean up. My dad was watering the plants and everyone else was putting away the extra supplies. After we put away the extra supplies and my dad finished watering we stopped to look at what we had completed. Right then a butterfly few over the garden and landed on a bush. I thought of Jessica right away, it was like she was there with us.
In 2005, on Jessie's mom's birthday - September 19 - a new addition to the family was born. Her sweet and thoughtful parent's did our baby a great honor when they named their beautiful girl Sofia Isabela-Lee after Jessie:
On December 26, 2005 our dear friends released a balloon from Gwynn's Island in honor of Jessie's 21st birthday:
In October 2006, the Marquez family sent Jessie's name to the heavens aboard the Dawn spacecraft on its mission to the Asteroid Belt:
August 4, 2007 - Jessie's friend and fellow softball player got married - and gave such an honorable tribute...
December 26, 2008 - once again the Marquez's honored us and Jessie with a balloon release on her birthday. We are so grateful for such thoughtful and compassionate friends.
August 6, 2009 - A note from Jessie's cousin: Aunt Sue....Uncle Don....Just wanted to say hi from Europe...I had a dream last night...and Jessie was in it....we were young again....and swimming in some lake or river....it was very peaceful and fun....I woke up this morning...and spent time on the website and reminisced. I wanted to share that with you and let you know that I still think of her constantly....Love you both.....
May 19, 2012 - A good friend of the family, whose children grew up with Jessie, sent this message: Hi there! Today I went to Joe's Ride in Olney. It was started by my old high school friend Betsy Leary Sanford when she lost her son 10 yrs ago to a brain tumor. I think he was about 10. The ride/walk is for Joe's memory and all children in the community who have died. They had several people there who had lost either their own children or like in my case knew the child who had passed away. I decided to do a balloon for Jessie. Her name was put on the balloon and then put on the list to be read. It was a moving experience to have the names called and then that balloon was released. I wanted to let you know that I put Jessie's name on a balloon, her name was read and Conley released it. She will always be remembered and loved.
If you know of a memorial or tribute that is not listed here, please contact us and let us know so we can add it to this page.
We thank each and everyone of you from the bottom of our hearts. It is these tributes that assure us that Jessie will not be forgotten, and that is our goal.