Echoes - February 2020

Echoes: The Haddonfield Alumni Newsletter

February 2020
Haddonfield Alumni Society
Online at

The Haddonfield Alumni Society (HAS) newsletter shares information about the alumni community and the continued good work in the Haddonfield public schools.

In this issue . . .

  • Alumni Spotlight: Blair Murphy ‘83: Filmmaker, Novelist, Hotelier
  • HMHS Student named "SJ Player of Decade" 
  • 1971 Scholarship Fundraising Efforts
  • Passing of Former HMHS Principal: Michael Wilson
  • Bulldog Legacy Walk 
  • Upcoming Events and Reunions


Alumni Spotlight: Blair Murphy ‘83: Filmmaker, Novelist, Hotelier

HMHS alumni from the early 1980’s will remember Blair Murphy as a classmate drawn to the arts and a dedicated long-distance runner and track athlete.  You will likely remember as well that Blair’s dad was the proprietor of the Holl-Murphy Funeral Home on West End Avenue in town.   Growing up in a funeral home had more than a subtle influence on his career choices and current lifestyle.

Blair attended the University of Bridgeport where he earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Cinema.  For his senior film project, Blair made a forty-minute film called STEPS about a runner, which was by his own admission, was influenced by his four years of running at HMHS.

After graduation Blair moved to Los Angeles and worked in the film industry for a decade or so.  Haddonfield folks, Jon Davison, Joanna Cassady, Debra Hill, John Vasey, Ken Brady, and Louis Wolf, all established in the industry were a great help to him starting out.  When he first arrived in Hollywood, he worked by day with the creator of the Spiderman films and by night as a photographer and videographer for the entertainer Prince.  Blair also collaborated with his Haddonfield classmate, Shaun Irons, on a feature film called “Jugular Wine”.  Blair explained, “It was a wacky vampire movie.  It got picked up by Blockbuster for distribution.  Every time I mention I was raised in a funeral home friends respond how "that explains everything."

A listing on eBay for a 32-room hotel, The Grand Midway in Windber, PA brought Blair back to the area from Los Angeles in 2001, shortly before 9/11. “I was looking for a place to get away from the big city, along with a buddy of mine. We wanted a big space to use for artistic projects. We bid on the hotel and a couple weeks later, we moved in. It was in the middle of nowhere…”

The Grand Midway Hotel needed many repairs, and Murphy and his friends lived there from day one. “We never stayed anywhere else,” he said. “The first year was rough, but romantic. We’re all artists, and the building was like a canvas. I felt like we were working on a painting.”

Blair began opening his eccentric home a couple of evenings a week as a coffeehouse in 2013.  He also established an onsite bookstore offering science fiction, fantasy and horror selections to purchase. When the coffeehouse began Blair related that some customers came in costume.  He explained that, “the costumes created a mystical atmosphere into another world.”  Coffeehouse nights attracted visitors from as far away as Ligonier, and actor Butch Patrick, best known for playing Eddie Munster on the television show “The Munsters,” dropped by from Pittsburgh.

The most striking feature of Murphy’s residence and an example of his hotel-as-canvas concept is a mural painted on the dining room ceiling. The depiction of the Universe card, the highest ranking card in a tarot deck, which comes with positive vibes, was done by Terrance Kaufman, owner of a tattoo parlor up the street.

After moving in, Blair heard the stories about the old hotel being haunted and said he felt a bit spooked and even heard footsteps. The home had secret passageways. The ghost of a woman killed by fireworks haunted the rooms. A certain chill pervaded.

Since that time the 130-year building has been renovated as both Murphy’s home and a destination for adventurous travelers seeking overnight accommodations.  It’s also played host to an eclectic variety of events: midnight seances, tarot readings and paranormal investigations. Murphy also hosted several “Draculacons” for friends, held in the spring because those in the scare business are usually busy at the more traditional haunting time of year.

Blair has turned the Grand Midway into a destination. He’s paid careful attention to every room. The Mermaid Room isn’t so scary, unless you have ichthyophobia, the fear of fish. Neither is the Beatnik Room, though hanging over the bed is a portrait of William S. Burroughs, who tried to shoot a shot glass off his wife’s head in 1951 and missed the glass. The Shakespeare Room seems harmless, until you turn the corner and see the cast of Macbeth in mannequin form. “People usually don’t last the night in the Canopy Room, Blair said, on account of the dolls and poltergeists.” You can find these rooms on Airbnb. If you make it to the Grand Midway check out the recognition from the Guinness Book of World Records for the Largest Tarot Card, Largest Oujia Board and Largest Coffin.

While Blair may not be in Hollywood any longer, his creative juices continue to flow.  In 2019, he purchased a shuttered 100 year old Catholic Church. He envisions reopening the church as a museum and gallery space that would showcase the works of the Scalp Level school of painting and its famed French-American founder, George Hetzel.  Hetzel’s oil paintings of the regional landscape remain favorites of some collectors. He previously purchased the defunct Anderson’s, a Windber store revered by locals. “I am sort of secretly building a bohemian Disneyland.”   

Blair has written a few novels set in the region including, “The First Noelle”, a quintessential Christmas tale, written as a gift to the Windber community. The First Noelle is available on Amazon. He also made another feature film soaked in PA history, called Zombie Dream.  Blair added, “I'm currently working on a Shakespeare movie which centers on A Midsummer Night’s Dream.  After that, I have a lot of footage shot over the years in Jersey to create a personal documentary championing Haddonfield and will begin rounding that up for an eventual gift back to my hometown.”  This is a gift that we will all look forward to sharing in.  Thanks, Blair.

Haddonfield Student Named South Jersey Player of the Decade - Mike DePersia '19 

For those of you who have had the chance to follow HMHS boys basketball for the past few years, you know first-hand the incredible number of heart-stopping victories that led the team to back to back state championships in Group 2.  No player was more central to those gut-wrenching victories than Mikey DePersia.  For his amazing leadership and play, Mikey was named by the Philadelphia Inquirer as the South Jersey Basketball Player of the Decade.  Follow this link to read Phil Anastasia’s tribute to his legendary play.

Click here to view the entirety of the article.


Class of 1971 Scholarship

When the snow fell in Haddonfield, you dressed in layers, donned your boots, hat, and mittens, and grabbed your sled or tube. All roads led to Washington Avenue hill. At the top, you took five running steps, slammed the sled down, and threw yourself on top. You flew down the hill, blistering cold on your cheeks, screaming at the top of your lungs. Then you walked back up and did it again. All this is captured in the late William S.- “Willie”- Stavely (Class of 1971) watercolor entitled “Washington Avenue Hill.”

The Class of 1971 is creating an art scholarship in Willie’s name to be awarded to a graduating senior at HMHS majoring in Art. HAS is supporting this effort by selling 13in x 19in prints of this watercolor to fund the scholarship.  Click one of the buttons below to either purchase a print or donate to the scholarship.

Obituary of Michael P. Wilson

A mentor, educator and giving man who strived to bring the best out of people that he met along his life captures the essence of Mike. Mike's passion was his family and creating memories that they will cherish as his legacy. Vacations to Wildwood, trips to the Pocono Mountains and Cruises to exotic ports were experiences that Mike enjoyed most in is life.

Click here to see more details from the Haddonfield Patch. 

Help Build the Bulldog Legacy Walk

  • Celebrate the Haddonfield Schools and recognize the achievements, service and contributions made to our school and community. 
  • Honor alumni, graduating seniors or current students, retired and current faculty and staff, championship teams, lifetime achievement award winners, dedicated community members, school clubs and organizations and those Haddons who are no longer with us.
  • Support the HMHS Beautification Project and have a customized brick paver with your personal message placed in the Legacy Walk.

All gifts to this project made through the Haddonfield Educational Trust are tax deductible. To purchase a brick paver or to consider other sponsorship opportunities go to:

Reunion Planning and Class Organization

Are you tasked with communicating and organizing your class or reunion? Here you will find everything you need . . .

  • Contact us if you are the primary contact for your Class to gain access to update the news, events, and pictures on your Class page, as well as to be able to send email blasts and create profiles. We already have contacts for many classes.
  • You can also post a discussion about your reunion in the message boards (look for your Class forum) under Class Notes, Reunions and Get-Togethers.

So what are you waiting for?  Start planning, organizing and sharing your event today!


Update: Eighty-two alumni are now listed as class coordinators to help get information out to you about reunions, events and news. If your profile doesn't have an agent icon, let us know to add you.


Upcoming Events

Visit for details on all upcoming events and reunions.

Pierce's December Updates for the Class of 1956
1/6/2020 - 3/6/2020
Click on Pierce's December Updates in BLUE above.

Class of 1970 50th Reunion
Saturday, 10/10/2020
Mansion on Main Street, 3000 Main St., Voorhees, NJ 08043 from 7 p.m. to midnight. More details will be posted in due course. 

Alumni Society Trustee Meetings
Third Tuesday of every month September through May/June, except December. Contact us for the location.

Let us know about your event and be sure to get your class representative to add details of your class reunion to your class page.



Haddonfield Memorial High School is the only school in the State that has won this award every year since its inception!


Reunion and Class Web Pages

On these pages, you will find valuable information about your upcoming reunion, class contacts and officers, class news, photos, class discussions and more. Let the Haddonfield Alumni Society host your class website (free of charge) instead of you paying and hosting it. Not sure when your next reunion will be? Refer to your class page. Who is in charge? Look at your class page. Trying to find a classmate? You guessed it, take a look at your class page.

See what's there now! Just select a class in the "Who do you want to find?" select box or head to the 'Search' page.

The class page showcases class news, events, discussions, photos, the class directory, class search, lost/missing, in memoriam, facts and figures, class officers and contacts, and a class map.


Group/Class Moderators Functionality

Class reunion organizers and class officers can have the ability to:

  • Add news
  • Add events
  • Email blast
  • Register new profiles
  • Add photos
  • Run a membership report and export data
  • Edit member information

Contact us if you don't see the above Agent button on your class page.




Keep your Information Updated

Keep your e-mail and mailing addresses current and you'll receive the details for all alumni information, activities, events, and reunions. Update your #profilelink# today!


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Have News for Us

This newsletter is for you, the alumni.  We would like to bring you news about your classmates and information about the Haddonfield Schools today.  Please contact us at, if you have updates that you would like to share. 


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Support the Society

Looking for a way to give back? There are several ways you can support the Haddonfield Alumni Society. We appreciate the support from all our alumni! You can now contribute with credit card and Venmo.