Jillian Murphy

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Jilly Murphy. Photo / Supplied
Jilly Murphy. Photo / Supplied

When Jillian Lesley Murphy (Jilly) rushed back into her favourite store after the Christchurch earthquake, she had one thing on her mind - her family.

But as she dashed back for her cellphone - an act her family believe she took so she could check on their safety - the shop collapsed.

The 48-year-old air traffic controller had been shopping in the Cashel Mall store Deval when the earthquake struck.

She fled with the store's owner, Deb, but then returned inside.

"Deb watched her go back in and watched the store collapse ... she's a mess," Jilly's close friend Pip Hally said in the days following the earthquake.

Jilly was confirmed as a victim of the earthquake by police on March 8, 2011.

She was days away from celebrating 30 years of service with Airways New Zealand and she and her partner of about two years, Richard Green, were about to go shopping for an engagement ring.

"He was 'The One' - she knew it and I knew it and we discussed it the other week," said Mrs Hally.

"Some of us spend our whole lives searching for The One and you still don't find them."

Mrs Hally said her friend loved spending time with her children and friends and family.

She also had a love of shopping and fashion and her two beautiful dogs.

"Everything about Jilly through and through was beautiful and she spent her whole life smiling and she was a strong woman. And she was the most amazing, amazing, mother and partner. She was very loyal, she was fun.

"She was probably a rock for a lot of people. She was a brilliant air traffic controller, and it's not an easy job ... Not everyone can do it."

Jilly was a mother to Taylor and Bond and to Mr Green's son, Sam.

- NZ Herald

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