Theodore Eugene Morris, 99, transitioned on Tuesday, April 28, 2020, in Wichita.
Family graveside services are Friday, May 8 at Riverview Cemetery. A drive-through visitation service is from 5 to 7 p.m. Thursday at Shelley Family Funeral Home in Arkansas City. A memorial has been established in Ted’s name for the St. James COGIC Building Fund. Online condolences and service recording are at www.shelleyfamilyfh.com.
He was the second child born to Charles and Georgia (Drumgould) Morris, born on April 8, 1921 in Arkansas City. Family members affectionately called him “Ted.”
As a child, he worked on his parent’s farm before and after school. He attended school in Arkansas City. He carried and delivered the Kansas City Call (a negro newspaper) for his Grandma Drumgould. This paper, “The Call,” was one of 22 newspapers published by the African American community in Kansas City that survived beyond 1943. It was deemed one of the most successful black newspapers in the nation.
Ted spent two years in the Civilian Conservation Corps in Lawrence. The CCC was a “New Deal” program that offered employment opportunities for young men. He married Johanna Towles in 1941. He and Johanna had three children, Ted Jr. (called Sandy), Victoria and Phillip.
Ted served in the U.S. Army Corps from 1945 to 1946. After leaving the Army, he moved Saginaw, Mich., in search of work. There he began working as a laborer for General Motors. After obtaining the job at GM, he moved his family to Saginaw. He worked for GM from 1946 to 1961. While he loved Michigan, he thought it was time to return to Kansas. He worked for the City of Wichita Public Works Department upon returning.
After some time, Ted returned to Michigan and to his work at GM. He became the first black foreman in his plant. He was blessed in 1970 with another daughter, Michelle. Ted retired from GM in 1976. He left Michigan and moved to Denver for five years, where he was able to spend time with his nephew Dutch and his niece Pam.
He once again returned to Arkansas City and began attending church. He gave his life to the Lord in 1986, building not only his natural life but his relationship with his Savior. Ted could be found at the church at 9 a.m. prayer services every morning because he believed that men needed to pray, too. He was a faithful member of St. James COGIC church, where he attended to the end. He believed the scripture Rev. 2:10 that says, “Be thou faithful unto death and I will give you a crown of life.” Ted served as a deacon and the head of the Men’s Day Building Fund rally. Not able to sit still in his older age, he began operating one of two original manual elevators in the Arkansas City office building.
Ted married the love of his life, Linda J. Watson, in 2007. They were married for 13 years. In that time Linda took great care of Ted, sometimes more that she took care of herself. She loved him and it showed. She made sure that he was celebrated by friends and family on his birthdays. Ted received his flowers while he was alive because of Linda. He had a heart of gold and a joke for everyone and he was instrumental in speaking into the lives of every child that walked through their door. His beautiful smile and eye rolls will truly be missed, but we will see him in the morning.
Those that have gone before him are his parents, Charles and Georgia Morris; sister, Juanita Maxine Watson; brothers, Harold, Travis, Billy, Charles and Donald; sons, Theodore Jr. (Sandy) and Phillip; and his favorite brother-in-law and friend, William Watson.
He is survived by his wife, Linda J. Watson-Morris; daughters, Victoria Gee and Michelle (James) Reaves II; grandchildren, Desira (Melvin) Benbow, Tracy (Roderick) Thompkins, Sharif (Trina) Morris, Melissa (Shaun) Hughes, Sheba (Corey) Vines, Alicia (Terrance) Bond, Kennedy Reaves, and James Reaves III; 21 great-grandchildren; one great-great-grandchild; and a host of nieces, nephews, and friends. He also leaves to cherish him a special niece, Tawanna (Eric) Black, and special nephew, Lewis Redmond.