Published: August 23, 2022
NEW YORK CITY — Nula Murphy Thanhauser — beloved wife, mother and style icon to those who knew her — passed away on August 12. In the antiques trade, she was a noted antique/vintage handbag dealer.
A first-generation American, Nula was born on January 17, 1943, in New York City to Mary Ellen Corroon Murphy of County Westmeath, Ireland, and James Halprin Murphy of County Clare, Ireland. She was the youngest of three girls and was predeceased by her sisters Myra Ellen Mahon and Clare Ann Slote.
Nula graduated from Holy Cross High School, a Catholic preparatory school in Queens, and Marymount Manhattan College. She earned a master’s in social work at Fordham University and was committed to serving women and children as executive director of the Angel Guardian Home in New York City and the Philadelphia Society for Services to Children.
In 1977, Nula married her husband of 35 years, Robert (“Roger”) Sidney Thanhauser Jr. They moved to the Society Hill section of Philadelphia, where they lived for more than 25 years and raised three beautiful daughters, Sarah, Kaitlin and Clare. Nula was passionate about service and community; she served on the St Peter’s School board of trustees, the Friends of Independence National Park and many worthy organizations. In 2005, she and Roger moved to East Hampton, N.Y., where they had spent summers for decades.
In her 60s, Nula turned her passion for collecting antique and vintage purses into a second career. Her booth became a fixture at the top antiques shows in the United States, featuring Art Deco, Art Nouveau and Egyptian Revival handbags and accessories. According to Antiques and The Arts Weekly, Nula was a hit at one of her first shows in West Palm Beach: “Customers were six deep in her booth.” She became a respected expert in the field, serving as an appraiser and lecturer. She favored fun, whimsical items, which she called “flourishes.”
A New Yorker at heart, Nula moved to the Upper East Side following Roger’s death in 2012. She loved reading the New York Times (with coffee!) and regularly completed its most challenging crossword puzzles.
Nula — or “Lala” to her grandchildren — was a creative and independent spirit. She will be dearly missed and remembered always by those who loved her, including her three daughters, three sons-in-law (Jim David, Will Flynn and Isaac McGinnis), five grandchildren (Ford, Grace, Oliver, Lily and Caroline), beloved niece Diane, and the Slote, Mahon and Thanhauser families.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to Mary’s Meals.
—Submitted by the family
5 Church Hill Road / Newtown, CT 06470
Mon - Fri / 8:00 am - 5:01 pm