Dr. Leonard “Murphy” Adkins, age 82, died Tuesday, January 7, 2020 in the presence of his loving family. Despite struggling with declining health, he passed away peacefully and never lost sight of what was important to him. Visitation will be held 4-7 p.m. on Thursday, January 9 at Ott & Lee Funeral Home in Brandon, MS and from 12 p.m. Friday, January 10 at Brandon First United Methodist Church, with the funeral service to follow at 2 pm.
Murphy was born on December 4, 1937 in Munford, TN to Charlie & Nora Adkins. Early in his youth, he dedicated his life to public service, and always worked hard to provide for his family and his community. Murphy earned a Bachelor of Science degree in chemistry from Lambuth College in Jackson, TN where he met his beloved wife Ruth. They were married his senior year of college on New Years Day 1960. After graduating, Murphy earned a pharmacy degree from the University of Tennessee School of Pharmacy in Memphis, TN. In 1964, the couple relocated to Brandon, MS, where they opened Murphy’s Rexall drugstore. In 1966, he became a father when he and Ruth welcomed their son, David, and soon thereafter, Andrea, Ben, and Sally. Murphy and Ruth were dedicated to civil service and contributed much of their time and energy to the betterment of their community. They helped to start the first Brandon youth soccer league, and were extremely active in church and school activities.
Heeding his motto of “get all the education you can, and don’t be afraid to change paths,” Murphy decided to continue his quest for knowledge; he commuted to the University of Southern Mississippi for years to earn a Doctorate in School Administration. Simultaneously, he worked as a teacher, counselor, and Brandon Middle School principal before ultimately becoming the Assistant Superintendent for the Rankin County School District. He consistently went above and beyond the call of duty, often working all summer to personally refurbish the schools in his charge, and was well known as the “Voice of the Bulldogs” for twenty years.
Murphy was devoted to the Boy Scouts of America throughout his life, serving on the board of the Andrew Jackson Council of the BSA. He was awarded one of the BSA’s highest honors, the Silver Beaver Award, which he held as one of his greatest achievements.
Putting his community above himself, Murphy decided to run for office, serving as Brandon’s alderman-at-large for ten years and as Rankin County Chancery Clerk for sixteen years, as well as president of the Mississippi Chancery Clerks Association. Even after leaving public office, Murphy constantly demonstrated his commitment to his community through his active participation in Kiwanis Club, Rankin County Chamber, and Rankin First. Additionally, he served on numerous boards including Hinds Community College, American Heart Association and the Leukemia Society. Over his life, he worked to raise over $1 million to help those in need throughout Rankin County and personally contributed financial aid to numerous individuals, often anonymously. In recognition of his exceptional contributions to the community, the city of Brandon established the Murphy Adkins Service Award, presented at the city’s annual Brandon Day festival. A true public servant, Murphy was known for his innate sense of fairness and absolute devotion to family, church, and community.
As his children grew and married, Murphy joined his wife Ruth on many travel excursions with friends, with his most treasured voyage to retrace Paul’s missionary journey through Greece and Turkey. When Ruth’s health began to decline, Murphy worked tirelessly to care for her, often sacrificing his own comfort to be with his beloved wife. In addition to his love of hard work and his absolute selflessness, his family will remember him best for his eternally positive attitude and his amazing sense of humor. He was always ready with a helping hand and a clever joke.
Murphy is preceded in death by his parents Charlie and Nora Adkins, his wife Ruth Martin Adkins, his brother Dwight Anthony Adkins, and his son Benjamin Thomas Adkins. He is survived by his children Dr. David Anthony Adkins, Andrea Adkins Sanders (Jay) and Sally Adkins Williams (Brian), and by his four grandsons, Henry John Sanders V, Charles Murphy Sanders, William Hart Adkins, Brian Veazey Williams, Jr., all of whom he loved dearly. He will live on in Heaven, and in the stories told by those who loved him.
In lieu of flowers, the family request memorials to the Ben Adkins Scholarship Fund Hinds Community College, P. O. Box 1100, Raymond, MS 39154.
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