Elroy James Murphy was born on November 14, 1930, the fifth child of seven children born to Bobby and Mae Murphy of Oxford. The Murphys were a hard-working farm family renting the sharecroppers house on the Shelton farm northeast of Oxford.
Elroy Murphy attended county schools, where he was known as something of a bully with numerous notations in his school records for discipline.
He attended North Yoknapatawpha County High School through the 10th grade. Elroy left school to work on the farm in 1944. He earned his high school equivalency in 1948.
In 1951 and 1952, he served in the American Eighth Army under Van Fleet in Korea.
On his return to Oxford, Elroy went to work for Ames Lumber in Abbeville, where he was employed from May 1953 to August 1956, when the business was sold.
After several odd jobs and a stint as a used car salesman, Elroy went to work for the Yoknapatawpha County School District driving rural bus No. 48 in September 1957.
His driving record with the county was checkered, and Elroy was cited several times for reckless driving. He retained his position as a bus driver due to a shortage of drivers and the fact that his citations occurred when no children were on the bus.
Elroy was generally well regarded by the parents of children on his route, by fellow drivers and—with some reservations about his record—by his supervisor.
In 1960, he applied for a position in the school district's maintenance department and worked in that department until his retirement in 1994.
Elroy married Callie Martin of Abbeville on July 18, 1959. The couple has three daughters, Mary (b. 1961), Jill (b. 1963), and Allison (b. 1964).
Elroy and Callie Murphy now live in Sarasota, Florida.