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Hancock mayor knew town was right for him

July 12, 2007|By MARLO BARNHART

HANCOCK - While Dan Murphy says he knew at an early age that he wanted to be a veterinarian, he doesn't remember waking up one morning and saying, "I want to be the mayor of Hancock."

As it turns out, he became both - a veterinarian for the past 30 years and Hancock mayor since 1995.

"Since I was a junior in high school, I was interested in medicine," Murphy said.

Two years at Potomac State College in Keyser, W.Va., were followed by one year at West Virginia University and then medical school at Oklahoma State College of Veterinary Medicine where he graduated in 1977.

"When the James Harriott book came out, there was a lot of interest in veterinary medicine," Murphy said, referring to the author of "All Creatures Great and Small."

During his final year of medical study, Murphy came home to job hunt. "I checked one place just south of Winchester, Va., and another in Bedford, Pa.," Murphy said.

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Then he heard that Dr. Leo Shives - a legend in Hancock - was looking for someone to buy out his veterinary practice.

"I drove down Town Hill one afternoon and saw the valleys around Hancock," Murphy said. "I didn't know anything about Hancock but I knew it was right."

Murphy said Shives became like a father figure to him. After six months working with Shives in his office, Murphy decided to buy him out.

That was 30 years ago this year and Murphy's veterinary practice is still the only one in Hancock. Shives has since passed away.

A native of Keyser, Murphy and his wife, Cindy, have known each other since they were in the second grade there.

They live above the office and raised their two children there - Allen who is a lieutenant junior grade with the U.S. Navy, and Emily who is working on her master's degree while working at Hagerstown Community College in the admissions office.

"I handle dogs and cats mostly and a few pleasure horses," Murphy said. He used to care for larger animals but after years of getting kicked and stomped, he decided he'd had enough.

From the start, both the Murphys have been active in the community and doing things with their kids but behind the scenes.

Then one day, Ralph "Buddy" Wachter came to Murphy saying he wanted to put together a ticket to run for town office. "We saw the need for changes," Murphy said.

In 1991, Murphy ran for council and was successful. Four years later, he ran for mayor and won his first two-year term. He has been mayor ever since.

"I have no regrets," Murphy said. "There have been some challenges but it has been a very rewarding experience."

While he says he used know practically everyone in Hancock, that is no longer the case.

"We have some new folks and we need to get to know them," Murphy pledged.

To reach the mayor's office, call 301-678-5622.

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