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Thomas P. Murphy, Sag Harbor tavern owner, dies

Thomas P. Murphy, who owned Murf's Backstreet Tavern in Sag Harbor for 30 years, remained a loyal patron there long after he sold it, his daughter said Monday.

"He was there every day up until recently," said his daughter Bonnie Murphy, 55, of Sag Harbor. "He was a permanent fixture at Happy Hour."

Murphy, who bought the popular bar after he retired from the New York City Police Department in 1972, died of natural causes Saturday at Southampton Hospital. He was 78.

"He was very healthy and very active up until the very end," his daughter said. Her father hadn't been feeling well and was in and out of the hospital recently, she said.

While working as a police officer for 20 years, Murphy raised his family in Jackson Heights, Queens, and moved year-round to his Sag Harbor vacation home after retiring.

"After he retired from the police department, he just wanted to have his own business," Bonnie Murphy said, adding that her father had earlier dabbled in tending bar and enjoyed it.

She said she remembers his bar as a cozy hangout, popular with the locals who played darts and a ringtoss game.

"They adored him," she said. "He's famous locally. He's like a local celebrity."

After his wife Elizabeth died in 2006, Murphy decided to sell the place, his daughter said.

But he continued to go there and order his usual drink - a Budweiser in a bottle, Bonnie Murphy said.

Murphy, who had served in the Navy, was an avid sailor, skier and golfer, his daughter recalled. He is also survived by two other children, Thomas Jr., 56, of Elmhurst, Queens, and Jennifer Sheil, 43, of Sag Harbor.

A funeral will be held at 11 a.m. Tuesday at Oakland Cemetery in Sag Harbor.

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