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2601 Kalarama Ave
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Life Story / Obituary
All who knew William Morris would agree that he was an extraordinary man to know and love. He was kind and approachable with a genuine concern for all who were near. Bill was deeply devoted to his family and there was nothing he treasured more than being a husband, father, grandfather, and great-grandfather. He worked hard, but he took the time to enjoy life along the way. Deeply loved, Bill will be forever missed.
The 1930s were some of the most trying days we’ve ever faced as the Great Depression enveloped our nation and much of the world. Jobs were hard to come by and there were few who didn’t feel the stress and strain of the time. Amidst this time also came great ingenuity. Scotch tape was first patented, the Yo-Yo found its way into the hands of playful children, and in 1931 stop-action photography was invented. That same year, Harold and Alice (Snyder) Morris were filled with great joy as they announced the birth of the baby boy they named William on October 19, in Chicago, Illinois. His father worked as a railroad detective while his mother was a secretary for the American Hospital Association. Bill was one of three as he was joined in his family by his siblings, John and Audrey.
In many ways, Bill was a young boy of his generation. He learned to play the piano at just five years old. His sister, Audrey, became a famous jazz singer in Chicago and was very influential in Bill’s musical aspirations. The pair were quite competitive, too. When they had recitals together as kids, she’d get nervous while Bill would come and play his piece with absolute confidence. Known for his lifelong strong work ethic, he started delivering the Chicago Tribune at a young age. Bill usually took his dog along and would complete his route before school. He also enjoyed playing pool after school. On one occasion, he was even caught by his boss as Bill was supposed to be out collecting the newspaper subscriptions.
Bill graduated from Chicago schools, during which time he learned to play a variety instruments including the trumpet and other horned instruments. Bill regularly played in school shows. He went on to Western Michigan University where he was active in the music department and played with their jazz band. Music continued to be a constant throughout his life as Bill later played at the Civic Theatre and with the Kalamazoo Symphony during the summer Starlight series in Bronson Park. After retiring, he played in the Portage Senior Band. Bill also served as president of Kalamazoo Federation of Musicians for over 40 years.
Not to be forgotten during his time as a student at WMU was Bill’s introduction to the woman he loved. Carol was still in high school at the time while Bill was a freshman in college. Howard Chenery led a group called the Band Follies. Carol was a dancer with the group and Bill knew several of the musicians. The couple met during one of the rehearsals. Upon first meeting him, Carol was less than impressed as she saw Bill as a smart aleck, Chicago guy. Bill remained persistent and, in time, they realized they were made for each other. Together they were blessed with three children, Jeremy, Michael, and Sue. Bill loved taking cruises with Carol including several to the Caribbean. They loved it so much they took their kids and grandkids on a Caribbean cruise in celebration of their 50th anniversary. Bill and Carol also flew to Hong Kong and Australia for cruises, they took a Baltic cruise, and traveled to China and many other worldly destinations. They both fell in love with travel, experiencing new places and seeing historic sites with their own eyes. Over the years Bill and Carol took more than 60 cruises.
As his family and friends can attest, Bill loved serving others including through the work he did. As the Korean Conflict enveloped our nation while he was a student at Western, Bill joined the Navy Reserves to avoid being drafted. He became a supply officer and was assigned to the USS Forrestal, a super-carrier and the first to be constructed with an angled flight deck and steam catapult. The military was so impressed with his work and dedication, Bill was eventually promoted to captain and retired after more than 20 years of faithful service.
While still in the reserves, Bill started working on his master’s degree from Northwestern University. He became a CPA and for the rest of his life he always had the latest technology, computers, and software as he wanted to remain on the cutting edge. With a lifelong passion for teaching, he and Carol moved back to her hometown of Kalamazoo where Bill started his teaching career in 1960. Throughout his time there he was held in high regard and was popular among his colleagues. He even designed a graduate level class for business tax planning. He skillfully gained the respect of his students and, for many, Bill stood out as a teacher they would fondly remember for years to come.
Over the years Bill was a man of many interests. He was often among the first to embrace the latest technology, particularly video technology, including moving from Betamax tapes to VHS to laser disc to DVD, and on. He was always the one walking around with the video camera at family gatherings, becoming known as “Captain Video.”
Bill also loved cartoons including Looney Tunes and Mad Magazine. When his kids were young Bill spent many hours watching Saturday morning cartoons with them. Once he learned he could video record them, Bill was able to watch them anytime he wanted. He did the same thing with his grandchildren as he had a big screen television before most others did. Their favorite characters suddenly became life size. Bill also loved playing pool with his kids and grandkids as well as checkers. A big kid at heart, Bill loved ice cream, and was a bit of a packrat, much to the chagrin of his family.
Truly one of a kind, Bill was selfless in the way he cared for others. He had a special knack for helping people not only find solutions to their everyday problems, but also for helping them see the big picture and keep a positive attitude. Bill always made people think just a bit more dutifully, encouraging them take responsibility for their choices. While he was sometimes serious, he also had a quick wit. Bill always had a joke ready to put a smile on your face. He’d often collect jokes from the local newspaper, especially the off-color ones.
There was no one who met William Morris and left unchanged. Kind and generous to a fault, Bill was one who could bring laughter to any room. Although he was a talented musician, the true symphony of his life came to fruition in the family he so adored. A dear man to many, he will never be forgotten.
Bill died peacefully at home on October 17, 2020. Bill was preceded in death by his sister, Audrey Morris Genovese; and his grandson, Christian MacQuarrie. Surviving are his wife, Carol; 3 children: Jeremy (Kathy) Morris, Michael (Deborah) Morris, Sue (Rod) MacQuarrie; 11 grandchildren: April (Adam) Zimont, Mark (Holly) Morris, Matt Morris, Joy (Aerick) Burton, Peter (Jessica) Morris, Paul Morris, Violet (Justin) Hecksel, Jennifer (Anthony) Smargiasso, Lachlan MacQuarrie, Iain MacQuarrie, Colin MacQuarrie; 9 great-grandchildren: Lolo, Xola, Belle, Heidi, Nolan, Henri, Lydia, Wren, and William; his brother: John Morris; and many nieces and nephews.
A private Life Story service will be held at Betzler Life Story Funeral Home, 6080 Stadium Drive, Kalamazoo 269-375-2900 with entombment at Mt. Ever Rest Memorial Park South. Visit Bill’s personal webpage at www.BetzlerLifeStory.com where you may read his Life Story, archive a favorite memory or photo, and sign his online guestbook. Memorial contributions may be made to Freedom Church or Hospice Care of Southwest Michigan.