Murphy celebrated his 60th anniversary working for the Georgia Poultry Laboratory Network in August.
“I don’t know where anybody’s ever worked for the state that long,” Murphy said. “The last few years have been part time, but they’ve still got my name on the roll here.”
At 79 years old, Murphy has seen drastic changes in the poultry industry. He started with the lab in 1954, shortly after being laid off from his first job out of high school.
“I was blood-testing chickens out on the farm,” he said. “That was at the old lab — or what we call the old lab on South Main Street in Gainesville.”
The lab has moved twice since, to its second location in Oakwood and now to its brand-new facility in Gainesville. Murphy said he’s the only person who has worked at all three of the lab’s locations.
Over the years, Murphy worked both in the field and in serology, or the study and diagnostic examination of blood serum.
“I helped in there with a lot of eggs,” he said. “When they didn’t have to have me out in the field that day or that week, they’d have me go over to serology.”
Later, Murphy worked in the office, booking chickens for testing. He did so until he retired from full-time work.
Now Murphy has a list of hatchers he inspects part time. He started working part time when his wife Mildred, who passed away in November, became ill.
“Cancer’s mean stuff,” he said. “So she wanted me to stay with her and I couldn’t leave her.”
Murphy and his wife were married 59 years, during which time they both watched the poultry industry change vastly.
“I’ve seen a lot of changes in the chicken business,” he said. “The way they do the diagnostic part here in the labs has changed. At the old Oakwood lab, it changed so much over the years.”
He said as new equipment, technology and ideas would come out, the labs would adjust and learn. He said they were always a leader in the poultry industry for the entire Southeast.
“There were times it was tough,” he said. “Getting up early and doing diagnostics for all of Georgia and over in Alabama, Mississippi, North and South Carolina and parts of Tennessee, too. They didn’t have testing agencies so they’d have us go out and test for them.”
Murphy said the new lab is impressive, and one of his favorite parts is the new mezzanine, or glass passageway, that visitors can walk through to observe the work in the labs’ various departments.
“You’re not interfering with them or interfering with the atmosphere,” he said. “It’s sealed off, and I mean, that’s really nice. This is state of the art here.”
Working at the new location was an objective for Murphy. He said once he’s done some work in the new facility, he thinks he will feel ready to finally rest.
“I’m doing some stuff with the hatcheries so I can say I worked here, too,” he said. “Then I guess I’ll finally, really retire.”