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Rohr’s bartender reflects on life serving the Notre Dame community

| Friday, October 28, 2016

Patrick Murphy, the bartender at Rohr’s, was recently awarded honorary alumni status by the Notre Dame Alumni Association after working at the Morris Inn for nearly 50 years, according to a press release.

Patrick "Murf" Murphy tends the bar at Rohr's. He has worked at the Morris Inn since he was 15 years old. Chris Collins | The Observer

Patrick “Murf” Murphy tends the bar at Rohr’s. He has worked at the Morris Inn since he was 15 years old.

Murphy, nicknamed Murf, began working at the Morris Inn when he was 15 years old.

“One of the moms [in our neighborhood] was a waitress and she grabbed us all and before you knew it, the whole neighborhood was working as busboys out there,” he said. “We had a lot of fun. We all knew each other already, so that was a lot of fun.”

Murphy was drafted into the military during the Vietnam War, but he was eventually stationed in Maryland, rather than Vietnam.

“We more or less knew that we were going to Vietnam,” he said. “We had this colonel stand up and tell us what our odds were. ‘OK, the first three months, x amount of you are going to get killed and then you’re going to be OK because you’ll learn the country, but the last three months you’ll get more careless.’

“I didn’t think much of it, but a bunch of people got scared and went out and tried to commit suicide, and so they canceled all our orders [to go to Vietnam]. Our company went all in to the United States, but then the following company went 100 percent back to Vietnam again. I was very fortunate. God was watching over me.”

Murphy continued to work at the Morris Inn whenever he had a 30-day leave from the military. This weekend, he will work his 229th football game; he has worked every football game since 1977.

During his tenure, Murphy has known multiple generations of Notre Dame families, serving drinks to students and — years later — to the students’ children, who often also attend Notre Dame.

“I have known so many people over the years that kids will come in and say, ‘My dad told me I had to come in and get my first drink with you because he got his first drink with you when he was here,’” he said.

“There’s one family here, the Siegfrieds. I knew the grandfather, I knew him well, and then his son came here and he passed in 2005 but now his son came here and he had a daughter that’s a freshman, so I’m on the fourth generation of knowing one family and that’s really not that unusual to get to know these people.”

Some of the students Murphy gave relationship advice are now soon to be married.

“We had three girls that came in — Katie, Margaret and Lynn — and they came in at 21, and now some of them are getting married next July,” he said. “We more or less would share our experiences and advised them about boyfriends and it was kind of fun. We looked forward to it every Thursday.”

Murphy has met several famous people while working at the Morris Inn and says the key to making conversation with them is to talk about their personal lives, rather than their careers.

“The thing is, you don’t want to talk about anything that they really do,” he said. “If Anne Thompson’s in there, you don’t want to talk about the news or what her job is. You want to talk about, you know, what her family is, where she’s been on her vacation.

“You know, I’ve had a 20-minute conversation with Joe Montana about eating potato chips and cholesterol, as opposed to, if I brought up football, he really wouldn’t want that much to do with me.”

Murphy said he is grateful for the Notre Dame community and his job at the Morris Inn.

“I don’t know what I’ve done to be so blessed,” Murphy said. “Notre Dame paid for my three boys, Shaunn, Timm and Cory to go to college. I work at a job that I love, and I still look forward to going to work every day. I have so much to be thankful for.”

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