Elizabeth “Bette” (Heffernan) Murphy, 96, of Newport, RI, passed away peacefully on March 19, 2023, at the Village House with her loving family at her bedside.
Bette was born in Newport to the late Charles and Elizabeth (Conroy) Heffernan on May 28, 1926. She graduated from the Class of 1944 at St Catherine’s Academy in Newport. She then attended the University of Rhode Island before pursuing a career in modeling at the Barbizon School of Modeling in Boston. Bette worked as a model for Henri Bendel in New York City for a few years before raising her family. She had a great love for fashion and displayed a graceful presence wherever she went.
Most importantly, Bette’s family and friends brought her the greatest joy in life. Throughout the years, she enjoyed having an open-door policy to the many friends of her children who wanted to spend time in Newport during the summers. Her favorite memories were her “Sunday Night Dinners” on Hunter Avenue and cookouts on Hazards Beach, where she was a lifelong member. She was an avid music and animal lover as well as a talented seamstress. In her spare time, she enjoyed painting some of her favorite spots in Newport, volunteering for Meals on Wheels, PTO, and other charitable organizations.
Bette was a loving mother to surviving daughters Rene (Robert) Smerling of Sacramento, CA, Marielen Murphy, Elizabeth Murphy Casey, and son Tod (MaryBeth) Murphy, all of Newport. She was the proud “Grammy” to nine loving grandchildren: Taylor Hill-Tout, Breck Marsh, Kelly Smerling Warren, Sarah Smerling, Tyler Thomas Murphy, Elizabeth, Bridget, and Anna Murphy, and Caraline Murphy Casey. She also leaves her two great-grandchildren, Esme Marsh and Dylan Hill-Tout.
She is preceded in death by her devoted husband of 65 years, Thomas J. Murphy, and her beloved two sons, Thomas J. Murphy Jr., and William C. Murphy. Bette is also preceded in death by her parents and three siblings, Paul, Philip Heffernan, and Mary Works.
The family wishes to thank all the caring staff at the Village House and special thanks to
Dr. Ingham of Newport Hospital.
A Mass of Christian burial will be celebrated Friday, March 31 in St. Mary’s Church, Spring St., Newport at 10:00 AM. Burial St. Columba Cemetery will be private. Calling hours are respectfully omitted.
In lieu of flowers, donations in her memory may be made to the Village House Activities Fund, 70 Harrison Ave, Newport, RI 02840 or to the Potter League for Animals, 87 Oliphant Ln, Middletown, RI 02842.