78. Dr. Thomas Murphy, Chicago-area cardiac surgeon, who raced in the 24 Hours of Daytona in 1999, dies

Top 100 Local Stories of 2014 in Central Florida / Headline Surfer®
Tom Murphy, Chicago-area heart surgeon who aced in Rolex 24 at Daytona in 1999, died Nov. 21 /  Headline Surfer®1999 24 Hours of Daytonaem>Photos for Headline Surfer® /
Dr. Tom Murphy loved racing cars as much as performing open heart surgery. And nothing gets the blood pumping like driving in an endurance race like the 24 hours of Daytona, now known as the Rolex 24 at Daytona, and competing against the best drivers in the world like Rob Dyson, whose team won the 1999 race that Murphy competed in. Murphy's team finished a respectable 26th, out of 78 teams, considering the stable of drivers Murphy counted on were't front line.

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. -- Dr. Thomas E. Murphy, a Chicago-area cardiac surgeon who raced in the 1999 24 Hours of Daytona, now known as the Rolex 24 at Daytona International Speedway, died Nov. 21. He was 80 years old.

Murphy was on the Specter Werks Sports Team that droves a Chevrolet Corvette and finished 26th overall in the 1999 Rolex 24 sports car endurance race. Other drivers on the team were Jeff Nowicki, Rick Mancuso and Mike Farmer. It was Murphy's lone time in the world class sports car race.

The Dyson Team led by veteran Rob Dyson won the 1999 race at Daytona.

Remembrance of Murphy's run in the 1999 Daytona sports car endurance race and his death comes in at No. 78 in the HeadlineSurfer.com countdown of the top 100 stories of 2014.

Here is obituary information for Murphy as reported by the Chicago Tribune:

Dr. Thomas E. Murphy, 80, of Glenview, formerly of Wilmette, a retired chief of cardiovascular and thoracic surgery at St. Francis Hospital, died Friday, Nov. 21, at Presence Holy Family Medical Center in Des Plaines following a bout with pneumonia.

After serving as an Army surgeon in Vietnam at the height of the war, Dr. Thomas E. Murphy joined the medical staff at St. Francis Hospital in Evanston in 1970, and through the years worked to make the cardiac department one of the best equipped and staffed in the Chicago area.

"Dr. Murphy pioneered cardiac surgery at St. Francis Hospital, developing a regional referral center that at one time performed more than 1,200 open-heart procedures per year, giving Saint Francis the reputation as 'The Heart Hospital,'" said Dr. Roberta Luskin-Hawk, regional president and CEO at what is now Presence Saint Francis Hospital in Evanston and Presence Saint Joseph Hospital in Chicago.

In the early 1990s, Dr. Murphy broadened his efforts by helping to make Northwest Community Hospital in Arlington Heights a cardiac surgery facility where coronary bypasses, valve replacements and other open-heart procedures were performed. He headed a team of six heart surgeons that in its first year performed hundreds of emergency heart surgery.

In 1991 Dr. Murphy told the Tribune, "This will be a great benefit to doctors and patients, as doctors will be able to care for their own patients at their own hospital."

During that time, he also oversaw the modification of recovery rooms for open-heart patients and helped create education and support program for patients and their families. "

Apart from being a cardiovascular surgeon and pioneer, Tom Murphy was a great man," said former colleague Dr. Alberto Foschi, who now serves as medical director of interventional cardiology at Presence St. Francis Hospital. "I had the honor of being in the operating room with him for every patient I referred to him."

Dr. Murphy raced cars at Road America in Elkhart, Wis., and in the Rolex 24 Hours endurance race in Daytona, Fla.; was a skilled fly fisherman who pursued king salmon near the Bering Strait in Alaska; and was a hunter of big game in Africa.

Dr. Tom Murphy's team raced a Corvette in the 1999 24 Hours of Daytona / Headline Surfer®


Dr. Thomas Murphy raced cars at Road America in Elkhart, Wis., and in the 24 Hours endurance race in Daytona, Fla.; was a skilled fly fisherman who pursued king salmon near the Bering Strait in Alaska; and was a hunter of big game in Africa.

The son of a surgeon and the grandson of a pharmacist, Dr. Murphy was born and raised in Dixon, Ill. He attended the University of Notre Dame in South Bend, Ind., before graduating with a bachelor's degree from Northwestern University in 1956.

After earning a medical degree from Northwestern in 1959, he completed his internship a year later at Cook County Hospital, where from 1960 to 1965 he also served his residency. He completed a fellowship in oncology at Memorial Hospital in New York in 1966.

Prior to his retirement in 2004 as chief of cardiovascular and thoracic surgery at St. Francis Hospital, Dr. Murphy served on the staffs of Northwest Community Hospital, Resurrection Hospital in Chicago and Lutheran General Hospital in Park Ridge. He was also on the teaching staffs at the University of Illinois at Chicago, University of Chicago, Northwestern University and Cornell University in New York.

Other survivors include a son, Timothy; three daughters, Annie Timons, Kathleen McNeela and Erin Murphy; three brothers, Michael, Edward and Dennis; a sister, Rosemary Keough; and eight grandchildren.


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Henry Frederick is publisher of Headline Surfer®, the award-winning 24/7 internet news outlet covering the Daytona Beach-Sanford-Orlando metro area via HeadlineSurfer.com since 2008. A longtime cops & courts reporter focused on breaking news & investigative reporting, Frederick is among the Sunshine State's most prolific daily news reporters, having amassed close to a hundred award-winning byline stories nearly evenly split in print and digital platforms. Frederick earned his Master of Arts in New Media Journalism with academic honors from Full Sail University in Winter Park in February 2019. He was a metro reporter with the Daytona Beach News-Journal for nearly a decade and then served as a city editor for the Taunton Daily Gazette in Taunton, Mass, while maintaining a residence in Central Florida. Prior to moving to Florida, Frederick was a metro reporter for the Rockland Journal-News in West Nyack, NY, for seven years. Headline Surfer was named the Sunshine State's top internet news site by the Florida Press Club in 2018.