John Murtagh, 75

Active community volunteer

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John Robert Murtagh was born on Jan. 26, 1944 in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn, fourth in a family of nine. He spent the last 18 years of his 75 in Oak Park, where he was an active member of the community until dementia brought his life to a close on Oct. 14, 2019.

He met his wife Margaret at General Motors where they worked. Together they built a family, including daughter Patricia, her husband Lloyd O'Shea, and their two children, Maggie and Liam; son John, his wife Taryn, and their children Jack, Joe and Kendall; and daughter Karen and her daughter, Rita. They raised their children in St. Clair Shores, Michigan where he was a volunteer for children with the Optimist Club and the local school board. 

He found success at General Motors starting in the mail room and ending as a senior director who traveled the world. A curious and avid reader, he was known to his grandchildren for his love of the morning newspaper. 

John and Marge retired to Oak Park to be closer to their grandchildren and John became an active member in local politics and the charity Su Casa. While living in Oak Park, he was a volunteer at the Shedd Aquarium with a particular soft spot for the penguins, his childhood nickname. He led tours at Old St. Pat's Church about the history of the stained-glass windows. He used his life experience to serve the village when possible as a member of civic commissions.  

John loved to laugh, was a storyteller, and a hero to many for his kindness.

A wake will be held at Woodlawn Funeral Home in Forest Park on Thursday, Oct. 17 from 3 to 8 p.m. John loved a good Irish wake so please come with stories to share. His funeral Mass will be celebrated at Old St. Patrick's Church in Chicago on Friday, Oct. 18 at 9:30 a.m., a church where he volunteered for many years, primarily as Santa Claus delighting children who would return every year with stories of accomplishments and drawings for him. 

In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to Save the Children and Su Casa Catholic Worker.

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Reader Comments

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Ada Johnson Tikkanen  

Posted: October 16th, 2019 5:44 PM

I am so sorry for your loss Patricia.

Michael Nevins  

Posted: October 16th, 2019 5:02 PM

Dear Ms. O'Shea/Murtaugh family: I'm very sorry for your loss and the dementia that affected your father before his passing. Agree or disagree, I always enjoyed reading what he wrote.

Patricia O'Shea  

Posted: October 16th, 2019 8:51 AM

For any who would like to leave a memory for the family about John, go to

Patricia O'Shea  

Posted: October 15th, 2019 6:01 PM

Thank you Wednesday Journal team for publishing my Dad's obituary. When talking about the paper and how much he liked to engage via the comments section and via editorials, we remembered his appearance in Shrubtown. It's printed and framed in his office.

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