The American Society of Safety Engineers (ASSE), in a press statement released yesterday, expressed its sadness over the recent death of former ASSE Executive Director Judy Neel Murphy. Mrs. Murphy passed away Wednesday, December 23 in Chicago, Ill.

Mrs. Murphy served as executive director of ASSE from 1980 – 1998 and was the first female ASSE executive director, the organization says. During Mrs. Murphy’s tenure the number of ASSE chapters increased from 99 to more than 125; the annual budget grew from $1.5 million to more than $3 million; and attendance at the annual ASSE Professional Development Conference doubled from 850 in 1980 to 1,545 in 1986. In 1981, Murphy worked with ASSE Board President Donald Eckenfelder, P.E., CSP, on a meeting of SH&E professionals with then Vice President George Bush (senior) regarding work safety issues and the profession. She also spearheaded ASSE’s 75th anniversary activities in 1986, and the ASSE Foundation, which advances occupational safety, health and environmental development, research and education by funding scholarships, fellowships, research grants and internships, was founded in 1990.

“We are very saddened by the loss of Judy, who spearheaded not only major growth for our safety society for 18 years, but an increase in awareness of the importance of being safe at work. On behalf of our 32,000 members and the ASSE staff, we send our heartfelt condolences to her family,” ASSE President C. Christopher Patton, CSP, said. “She was extremely dedicated, hardworking and key to helping us move the profession forward. She will be greatly missed, but her contributions will live on.”

Mrs. Murphy was succeeded as ASSE executive director in 1998 by Fred J. Fortman Jr., LL.M., CAE.

A funeral service was held Saturday, January 2, at the Aurora Cemetery. A memorial service will be held in Mrs. Murphy’s honor February 6th, 2010, at 3:30 p.m. at the Fourth Presbyterian Church at Michigan Avenue and Delaware Place in Chicago, Ill.