J. Roger Morris, 91, of Batavia, former longtime Geneva resident, beloved teacher at Geneva High School and the first recycling coordinator in Geneva, died Monday, Sept. 3, 2012, at his home surrounded by family.
He was born March 9, 1921, in Manitowoc, WI, the loving son of James and Helen (Conahan) Morris.
Morris was a highly respected citizen in the Tri-Cities, having served on the Geneva City Council from 1987 to 1996, after a 31-year career as teacher, coach and administrator at from 1952 to 1983. Upon retirement from the Geneva City Council, he established Geneva's award winning recycling program.
He served in the United States Navy from 1942 to 1946 as a lieutenant in the Amphibious Corps in the Pacific Theater.
He graduated from Lincoln High School in Manitowoc in 1939, the University of Minnesota in 1943 with a bachelor's degree and received his master's degree in education at Northwestern University in Evanston in 1953. He taught high school in Norton, KA, and Antigo, WI, before settling in Geneva, IL.
Morris was a member of Geneva American Legion Post 75 and the Boys' Club of Batavia. He was a veteran member of St. Peter Catholic Parish of Geneva for 40 years.
He is survived by his wife, Sharon (Tyrer) Morris of Batavia; four children, William (Sue) Morris of Grayslake, Patrick (Karen) Morris of Waukegan, Molly Brady of Waterloo, IL, and Michael Kelly Morris of St Charles; Sharon's children Deborah (James) Campbell of Elburn, Julie (Bob) Birkeneder of San Antonio, TX, Tom (Kathy) Tyrer of Manhattan Beach, CA, and Amy (Brad) Nelson of Batavia; 21 grandchildren, Patrick, Tina, Danielle, Colleen, Paddy, Jennifer, Shawn, Stephanie, Ryan, Joe Brady, Andrew, Brian, Joseph, Jennifer, Christina, Elizabeth, Dylan, Brogan, Andrew, Aleigh, Ana; 11 great-grandchildren; and many relatives and good friends who will miss him dearly.
Roger was preceded in death by his first wife, Bea Morris, in 1988; son, Tim, in 1990; parents; brother, Kenneth Morris; sister, Isabelle Purrman and son-in-law, Matt Brady.
A visitation will be held from 3 to 9 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 6, at Malone Funeral Home, 324 East State St., Geneva.
Interment will be held privately at Resurrection Cemetery in Geneva.
In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations be made to the , 22 South Second St., Geneva, IL 60134, the Geneva Schools Academic Foundation for use with the Science Program in honor of the J. Roger Morris Science Wing, or Seasons Hospice and Palliative Care Foundation, 6400 Shafer Court, Suite 700, Rosemont, IL 60018.
Morris was a Geneva teacher, administrator, coach, businessman, alderman and made probably 1,001 other contributions to the community throughout his life.
He was the 1990 , the highest honor for a citizen of Geneva, and you can find his name in almost every Geneva High School reunion website, because he was one of those educators who always was invited.
He was one of those teachers who always remembered your name and had something nice to say about everyone.
Of course, the community recently , the longtime Geneva teacher and basketball coach. In too short a time, we've had to say goodbye to two beloved educators who helped make Geneva such a wonderful place to live.
At Tuesday night's City Council meeting, Geneva Mayor Kevin Burns and several aldermen said kinds words about their fellow City Council member and friend.
"When I first became an alderman, Roger took me under his wing," 4th Ward Alderman Dorothy Flanagan said. "Roger was a mentor beyond (words)—I can’t describe how valuable he was to me. He introduced me to so many people. He was just a wonderful guy, and I will miss him."
"A wonderful neighbor on the north end of Logan Avenue," 1st Ward Alderman Sam Hill said. Long after Hill's children were grown, Hill said Morris "would continually ask how they were doing. I will miss him, as well as the rest of the community."
First Ward Alderman Chuck Brown remembered how fun it was to march with Morris in the Swedish Days parade, because "Mr. Morris" was so popular with the community and his former students.
"He would get more calls from the crowd than all the rest of us, including the mayor," Brown said.
Former School Board President and present 3rd Ward Alderman Dean Kilburg praised Morris for his work in developing the city's award-winning recycling program.
"I remember my son receiving a note from Roger thanking him for some recycling effort at Harrison Street School," he said. "When we look at the blue recycling bins for Geneva, Roger had something to do with that."
Mayor Kevin Burns called for a moment of silence for Morris as well as for Sharon Regole of the Geneva High School Class of 1982, Burns' graduating year. Morris was also the sponsor of the Class of '82.
Do you have a fond memory of Mr. Morris? Please share it in the comments section below.