As Iowa school boards debate masks, candidate’s wife dies from COVID
Renee Murphy, the wife of Ankeny school board candidate Trent Murphy, died Friday after battling COVID-19 since early September. She was 51 years old.
Renee Murphy, originally from Des Moines, was a teacher and mentor at the Ankeny Leadership Institute and co-founder of Ankeny 100 Women. She started her own social media business, Sassy Social Media Management, and co-founded and owned SalonConnx. She was also a former catechist, Eucharistic minister and religious education teacher for the Catholic Church of Our Lady of the Immaculate Heart in Ankeny.
“She did everything she could to bond and even though people didn’t even think they’d like to be together, the next thing you know is they found some commonalities and things they were okay with before, and that’s what we’re going to miss, ”Trent Murphy said, confirming his death.
His wife’s death occurs less than two weeks before the school board election, who has been upset by the politics of COVID-19. Trent Murphy has pledged to stay in the race.
“If I gave up. I would have an angel on my back, not very happy,” Trent Murphy said. “I want to do my best and this is what I signed to win or lose.”
He is one of many candidates backed by a group of conservative parents who have opposed COVID-19 mitigation policies, including the Universal District Ordinance which was put in place after a federal judge ruled out blocked an Iowa state law that prohibited such policies.
Trent Murphy, who is vaccinated, said in the Des Moines Register candidate survey and in an interview after the death of his wife who believes in parental rights. But he also intends to follow the law and the order of the judge. And he hopes the school board can move beyond the masked debate to focus on other long-term issues facing the district.
“I hope to bring some stability, but sometimes it’s hard without Renee sitting there watching you,” he said. “A lot of our friends remind me of this all the time and they remember it, mostly because of her.”
The two met in the late 1980s and tied the knot in July 1991 – a relationship steeped in tradition and living each day with purpose, Trent Murphy said he had little to regret over the course of of his thirty years of marriage.
“We spent time together,” Trent Murphy said. “We understood that we had obligations and commitments, but we always took the time to take a quick vacation or have a weekend and shut down everything else.”
Whether it’s spending Saturdays watching football together or spending Sunday afternoons at the movies, Trent Murphy cherishes the tradition and he said he plans to continue it.
There is a tradition close to her heart: giving a yellow rose to Renee Murphy on their birthday.
“That’s all I could afford when I started dating her on Valentine’s Day and I went to her house and that’s all I had was the yellow rose because everything the rest was sold, ”Trent Murphy said. “And I went over there and she had a few other guys that wanted to date her – I just started dating her – she had all the teddy bears and all the big sets of roses, and I was just like “I’m a poor college boy and here is my only rose. But she preferred this rose. “
As a kidney cancer survivor, Renee Murphy chose not to be vaccinated, fearing it would hurt her lonely kidney – choosing to wear a mask instead.
“We talked about it, we talked about it, we had done it all – she was like the safest person but she literally had kidney cancer 15 years ago and wasn’t ready to get the shot.” said Trent Murphy.
Trent Murphy said he plans to receive a booster shot once he becomes eligible.
“You have to make a choice and sometimes the choice has consequences,” Trent Murphy said. “She made a choice, she never made anyone sick. She paid the consequences.”
Renee Murphy’s visit will be from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. Monday at Our Lady’s Immaculate Heart Catholic Church. The Christian burial mass will take place on Tuesday at 10:30 am, also at the church.
In lieu of flowers, the family is asking for contributions in honor of Renee Murphy to the following organizations: Simpson College, The Robert D. and Billie Ray Center at Drake University (Character Counts!) And the James Arthur Albert Foundation.