Wednesday 21 February 2018

Court battle between widow and family over where to bury late millionaire

Olive and Paul first married in 1944 and reunited in 2011
Olive and Paul first married in 1944 and reunited in 2011

Kate Buck

Two widows are at war over where they want their late husband to be buried.

Northern Ireland native Olive Murphy (92) had a romance with Paul Morigi during World War Two, eventually marrying him in 1944.

However, they divorced in 1948 when Ms Murphy did not want to move with him back to America as she feared being separated from her family.

That same year, Mr Morigi met and married fellow American Muriel Morigi, now aged 96, and they had two children during six decades of marriage.

But it would seem Mr Morigi could never quite forget Olive, his "first and last love", and he left America in 2011 aged 92 to remarry her in East Sussex where she had moved to.

When he died just before Christmas last year, Ms Murphy assumed she would be able to bury him in the local cemetery where she had purchased a plot for him.

But his US family expected to bring his body back to America, over 3,500 miles away. His son had died before him, in 2009, and they wanted Mr Morigi to be buried alongside him.

The bitter argument that followed has seen Mr Morigi's daughter, Karolyn Morigi-Armstrong, and his four grandchildren win an injunction against him being buried in the UK.

His body has been in storage at an undertakers in Sussex ever since.

Ms Morigi-Armstrong denied that his moving to England had resulted in a "serious breakdown" between their family and her father, but admitted to accusing Olive of taking her elderly father away from his family.

Now the dispute over where the multi-millionaire should be buried has reached the High Court in London.

Joshua Swirsky, for Ms Murphy, said that the feelings of Mr Morigi's American relatives must be outweighed by the wishes of his British widow.

"His widow, Olive Murphy, wants to be near his grave," he told the judge. "If he is buried in the US, given her age and state of health, she will never be able to visit the grave,

"In the ordinary course of events, a person would be expected to want to be buried with their spouse rather than other family, even adult children.

"The US family want him to be buried with them, in order that they can visit the grave and Paul Morigi can be near to his dead son. While it is accepted that these are considerations for the court, it is submitted that they are outweighed by the wishes of the widow."

Karolyn Morigi-Armstrong, who worked in banking alongside her father, said he would never have wanted to be buried in England "thousands of miles away from all his family and against his express wishes".

"He obviously moved across the pond, but he wanted to be buried next to my brother on the site he prepared himself," she told the judge. "We would have a military funeral for him. He was a commanding officer in World War Two and that was very important for him."

Belfast Telegraph

Promoted Links

Today's news headlines, directly to your inbox every morning.

Promoted Links

Editor's Choice

Also in Irish News