Walter Luther Morris, Sr., 96, went to be with the Lord on Oct. 6, 2017, surrounded by his family at his home.
Walter Luther Morris, Sr., 96, went to be with the Lord on Oct. 6, 2017, surrounded by his family at his home. Walter was born in Helena, on Sept. 12, 1921, to Walter Morris and Leonora Hornor Morris. He moved to West Helena at age six and resided there until his death.
After graduating Helena High School, he attended the University of Virginia for a year before transferring to the University of Arkansas where he graduated with honors in 1943. He was a Sigma Chi, as are his son, Walter, Jr., and grandsons Trey Morris and Douglas Maclay.
After college he joined the Navy and served his country in active duty from 1943 to 1946 as a lieutenant lt. jr. grade. Most notably, he was an officer on the USS Loy and fought at the Battle of Okinawa. He was in the Navy Reserves until 1956 and was honorably discharged as a lieutenant.
Upon returning to Helena after World War II, Walter went to work in the family business Twin City Transit. He built the business from buses and taxis to leasing cars and trucks, which became Hornor-Morris Transportation. In 1961 he and his cousins, Lawson D. Hornor and John J. Hornor, bought Askew-Jones Lumber Co. They renamed it H&M Lumber Co. and expanded the business to ready-mix concrete, concrete block manufacturing and subdivision development. It is still in business, owned and operated by his son, Walter L. Morris, Jr. He also owned and operated Hornor-Morris Abstract Co. after his mother retired.
Walter had a passion for business opportunities, once having said, “I’ve made an investment in just about everything you could except a jetliner. I’ve had a railroad car, a barge, even a Greyhound bus and a cow or two. Some worked out okay and some didn’t.”
Walter met his future wife, Bennette Johnson of Clarendon,in December of 1951 and they were married June 12, 1952. During 65 years of marriage he became a loving father of four, Margaret Bennett Morris Sellers, husband, Paul; Mary Virginia “Gina” Morris; Walter Luther Morris, Jr., wife, Jayne McCain; and Leonora Harriet Morris Maclay, husband Doug. The family tree grew with seven grandchildren, Callie Bennett Sellers Towles, husband Allen; Margaret Morris “Mollie” Sellers;
Walter Luther Morris, III, wife Elizabeth “Liz” Bernie; Mary McCain Morris Cole, husband Josh; Meredith Pointer Maclay; Claire Parkhill Maclay; and Douglas Weller Maclay III. Then he became a great-grandfather to Campbell William Towles, Caroline Bennett Towles, Lawson Allen Towles, and Walter Luther Morris IV. He treasured his time with family, including annual summer vacations, and celebrating their milestones.
Walter loved his community throughout his life, especially in the areas of health and education. He was a founding board member of Phillips County Community College and actively served on the board for over 50 years. His most recent contribution to the college was his encouragement to add commercial truck driving as a degree. The program was implemented in the spring of 2017. He also served on the board of the Helena Hospital from 1946 to 2000 and was president from 1980 to 1988. He was instrumental in the building of the new hospital which opened in 1979.
Other civic interests include the Phillips County Chamber of Commerce of which he served as president and was the Chamber Citizen of the Year in 1954. He was a West Helena alderman. He served on the Helena National Bank and Merchants & Farmers Bank boards. He was on the Helena Bridge Steering Committee leading to the bridge being built and opened in 1961.
He was on the board of the directors of Sandestin Hilton General Partners from 1988 to 2005, serving as board president from 1993 to 1995. He made many good friends through his association with the Hilton and was always quick to praise those who worked hard to make it such a success.
Golfing and mowing the lawn on the “Big Green Tractor” were two of his favorite hobbies. He seldom missed a Wednesday or Saturday afternoon golf game and played into his 90s.
We are so grateful for the wonderful caregivers that attended Walter, Sr., Mary Jane Patterson, Debbie Dyce, Alice Dunn, Mary Williams, Lois Suggs and Shakina Gates, as well as the staff of Kindred Hospice. Walter, also known as Dad, Da and Uncle Walter, will be sorely missed by his family, but we are consoled by the fact that his great-grandson and namesake,
Walter Luther Morris IV, welcomed him to Heaven. We feel sure Walt VI is watching Nemo while Walter, Sr. is enjoying a java mocha chiller.
Visitation was held Tuesday, Oct.10, at 1: p.m. at St. John’s Episcopal Church in the undercroft followed by a celebration of life at 2 p.m. in the church at 625 Pecan Street in Helena. In lieu of flowers memorials may be made to the Phillips County Community College Foundation, P.O. Box 785, Helena, AR, 72342; Warriors for Walt, www.warriorsforwalt.com; or St. John’s Episcopal Church, Helena, Arkansas.
Services were directed by Roller-Citizens Funeral Home, West Helena Relatives and friends may sign the online guestbook atwww.rollerfuneralhomes.com/westhelena.