Geneva store owner chases two passions

Whether with cheese or music, Geneva store owner Rob Murphy always hits the high note

Posted10/9/2017 12:05 PM
  • Rob Murphy sells cheese to a customer at the farmers market in Geneva.

    Rob Murphy sells cheese to a customer at the farmers market in Geneva. COURTESY OF DAVE HEUN

Rob Murphy is a busy fellow at the farmers market in Geneva every Sunday during the outdoor market's season. After all, people do like their cheese and fresh fish.

And Murphy has become an expert of both, which continues to strike me as a fascinating transformation.

To me, Murphy is basically a man with a horn. He's been a prolific French horn player in the Rockford Symphony Orchestra for the past 30 years and was the former frontman for the St. Charles Arts and Music Festival that took place every other year through the 1990s and early 2000s.

He's also left his mark on the music at his church, Baker Memorial United Methodist, in St. Charles. After all, it was Jeff Hunt, the music director at the church, who worked with Murphy and others to create that city music festival. It was no small undertaking.

"We put together 150 events over 15 days for those festivals, plus single events on the off years to raise funds and awareness and provide music education," Murphy said.

So how is it that Murphy eventually became a cheese and curds whisperer and fresh fish guru who shows up at various local markets, and has a retail storefront called Curds & Whey Cheese Company in Geneva?

"My wife Debra and I were huge cheese aficionados and foodies all along," said Murphy, who lost his wife to cancer about nine years ago.

So the path to a cheese kingdom started when the St. Charles Farmers Market was about to fold up shop, and Murphy convinced Baker church leaders to operate the market on the church grounds.

"The ministry of our church has a long history of giving back to the community through civic leaders, and we wanted this to be another example of that," Murphy said.

At about the same time that a job in music Murphy had hoped for didn't pan out, the church took over the market as a year-round event. It led to Murphy chasing his other passion, selling cheese and fresh fish, for the better part of 12 years now. The store in Geneva has been open two years.

"That was my first retail spot and it has been doing well for me," Murphy said. "We were lucky to catch the Locavore (locally produced) Food Network wave years ago, and it has been going well ever since."

But music will remain a part of him and his family forever.

"My son is playing jazz piano and studying music at DePaul," said Murphy, who himself had a scholarship because of his French horn prowess at Northern Illinois University.

Plaque gets new look: As the Baker Community Center in St. Charles has undergone a facelift in the past year to restore the old building to some of its past glory, it was important to those who oversee the building that even memorial plaques were brought back to their original appearance.

That's the case with a plaque near the front door entrance that stands as a tribute to the veterans and nurses form St. Charles who participated in World War I.

The bronze plaque at the entrance has the names of those veterans front and center. And it looks quite nice these days.

It's been important for the community to see the Baker Community Center given some spit and polish, considering that Col. Edward Baker and his wife fully intended that the building, dedicated in May of 1926, stand as a memorial to their son, Henry Rockwell Baker.

Henry Rockwell Baker died from a tuberculosis infection at the age of 22 in 1914.

Celebrate it daily: For those who may not keep track of this sort of thing, Oct. 28 is National Chocolate Day.

That doesn't mean much to me. As my wife will attest, pretty much every day is Chocolate Day in our house.

And that's totally on me. She rarely touches chocolate, whereas I pretty much eat it by the truckloads.

Better than driving? Is it better to drive, walk or run through the Mooseheart campus to look at the holiday lights display that has become an annual attraction?

When the display opens to the public, it is generally viewed by those who drive through the campus loop to enjoy the lights.

But I'm thinking you'd see more and spend more time looking at the displays by walking or running. So it is that Mooseheart has come up with a good idea in hosting its second annual Mooseheart Holiday Lights 5K Run/Walk at 5 p.m. Nov. 18.

If the holidays take a shot at ruining your waistline, this also is a good way to fight back.

Those interested in participating can register online on the Moose Charities website.

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