By the time he retired in 1942, John Murdoch had become a legend in Wabasha County, the Third Judicial District, and the state bar. He had been, his eulogist recalled years later, one of "The Big Three" of the county trial bar during the first third or so of the last century, the others being James A. Carley and John E. Foley.
He was the son of John N. Murdoch, with whom he practiced briefly as the junior member of Murdoch & Murdoch from 1893 to 1896. While his father's influence was considerable--over two decades after his father's death, he still occupied their old quarters--their interests did not converge. His father thrived on journalism and party politics besides law while he found success and renown as a trial lawyer. He seems to have had three passions in life: his family, his religion and the law -- and if he was asked to chose among them, his answer might have depended on where he was at the time: at home, in church or in the courtroom.
The dean of the Wabasha County bar, the last of "The Big Three" died on April 11, 1962, at age ninety-two. The following month, a lengthy memorial proceeding was held for him in District Court in Wabasha.