Harriet Elaine Murphy Parks
Harriet Elaine Murphy Parks passed away on July 23, 2021 in the presence of family. Harriet was born in Morristown, New Jersey and raised in Santa Barbara, California to William and Gertrude Jones Murphy. Mr. Murphy was the leading caterer in Santa Barbara, and Harriet was the eldest of the four Murphy girls – Willette Jean, Margaret Ann and Kathleen Andrea.
Because of their father’s catering business, during the Murphy girls’ formative years, Harriet and her sisters grew up around food, sharing a special love for the dining experience. After graduating from Santa Barbara High School, she attended the University of Nebraska where she met her future husband. They married in 1961 and eventually settled in Los Angeles. After the dissolution of her marriage, she became bedridden with a life-threatening illness. With five children and a nephew to raise on her own, she fought through her illness and determined a way to support her family via her penchant for cooking. Through the assistance of friends and family, she realized her vision, and Harriet’s Cheesecakes Unlimited was launched in 1983.
Throughout the years, Harriet evolved the business into a family endeavor, with each of her children playing a vital role in its success. Armed with a cult following, Harriet’s Cheesecakes has been featured on Food Network’s “The Best Thing I Ever Ate!”, Oprah Winfrey’s and Ava Duvernay’s “Cherish the Day” on OWN and in Los Angeles magazine, just to name a few.
Aside from her culinary accomplishments, Harriet was best known for her tremendous heart, faith in God, cooking favorite meals for friends and family and being the matriarch and glue of her family.
Harriet is survived by her children, Robin Elaine, Douglas Murphy, Dawn Alison, Gregory Allen, Michael Kenneth (wife, Misheline), her nephew, Leroy Lonnie Jordan, her sisters, Willette Murphy Klausner (husband, Manuel), Margaret Murphy and her beloved grandchildren, Giana Serenity and Mckenzie Ryan-Skye.
Although a bright light has been extinguished, she will never be forgotten by the many people she touched. Her spirit will live on forever in our hearts.