South Boston rink rededicated to local legend

A new plaque honoring Francis L. Murphy was unveiled Saturday at the skating rink that was named for him in 1965. The rink was damaged during the winter of 2015.

Matthew J. Lee/Globe Staff

A new plaque honoring Francis L. Murphy was unveiled Saturday at the skating rink that was named for him in 1965. The rink was damaged during the winter of 2015.

State and local officials gathered at a South Boston skating rink Saturday to rededicate a plaque for a firefighter who died in the line of duty decades ago and who was a local hockey legend.

Francis L. Murphy, a South Boston native, was killed on Oct. 1, 1964, while battling a fire at a toy factory on Trumball Street in the South End when a wall collapsed. Five other firefighters and a photographer also died in the tragedy.


Boston Fire Commissioner Joseph Finn said that more than 50 years later Murphy continues to be a role model for the community and remembering his accomplishments helps younger generations “understand dedication.”

Murphy graduated from South Boston High School and was attending Boston College when he left to join the Marines and serve in World War II. After he returned home, he earned his degree and in 1949, his senior year, led the BC hockey team to a national championship.

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He became a firefighter at 35 and died doing his job at 42. The South Boston skating rink, which opened in 1961, was named for Murphy four years later.

Murphy was part of the greatest generation, Finn said.

“They truly were members of our community who went off, fought World War II, came back, and made a life for themselves,” he said. “They gave back to their communities and instilled a sense of honor and a sense of patriotism in our community, which sometimes today gets left unnoticed.”


Record snowfall in 2015 caused the roof of the Francis L. Murphy Memorial Rink to cave in. It was reopened last year after sweeping improvements were made to the locker rooms, scoreboard, and concession area.

Family members of Murphy joined officials to rededicate a plaque honoring his service at the rink. More than 50 firefighters and members of the community came for the ceremony.

Officials representing South Boston including US Representative Stephen Lynch, state Senator Linda Dorcena Forry, Representative Nick Collins, and City Councilor Michael Flaherty talked about how important the rink is to the community. Governor Charlie Baker and Mayor Martin J. Walsh also offered a few words.

Murphy’s cousin, Mark Burke, who was 16 when Murphy died, said, “He was a great guy and had a lot of experiences in the war and yet he was able to make that transition to quietly contribute to his community.”

He recalled his cousin as a humble guy.

“In fact, this event today would probably make him embarrassed in some ways,” Burke said. “He’s that kind of a guy.”

Mina Corpuz can be reached at Follow her on Twitter @mlcorpuz.
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