There was nothing artificial in his smile and it certainly was spontaneous, so it was natural. He looked and acted the same in carrying a Bible as in living what it taught. People carry their Bible in various ways, but Morris carried his up high, with elbow bent, which placed the Bible close to his heart.
This man Morris, possessing exceptional character and caring for others, was a friend of my parents since they bought groceries at his supermarket and attended the same church. When I was 13 years old, Morris hired me for his supermarket. You seldom see genuine caring for customers like he had. I noticed the customers reflecting back what they were receiving and the employees also did their part to enhance the experience.
During this time there were fishing trips where Morris, my Father and I went together. Morris’s personality enhanced our trips because of his optimism of being out in God’s world. The enjoyment of nature and of catching fish was great; however, it was not necessary to have a good time.
Paths did not cross
Over the next several years of my life, our paths did not cross very often. I had worked for the C & O Railroad to help pay for college, served in the U.S. Army, finished my degree at the University of Kentucky, and had a job with General Telephone of KY.
Along came Morris and moved two doors from my parents. Of all things, his daughter who was 4 years old when I worked at his supermarket had grown up! Well, well, since Morris went to church early because of his leadership duties and since he owned only one car, it was appropriate for me to volunteer to take his wife Jewell and his daughter Judy to church when I went later. This sounded like a good plan for me so that I could get closer to Judy and it worked. Yes, I robbed the cradle but knowing the family for so long should count for something and two fishermen in one family are better than one.
Friendship difficult to describe
Morris and I began a friendship difficult to describe in magnitude. It began at his store, increased by regular fishing trips, grew in scope by the magic of marriage and grandchildren, broadened when he was my sergeant at arms in the Optimist Club, became painful as his health failed, and provided much thankfulness for the opportunity to care for him and his wife Jewell at our home. Morris had a difficult path to walk regarding his health. He spent many days in the hospital and many times he bounced back. During all this time he kept a twinkle in his eye and continued his optimism in spite of his 20 pills a day. Right along side Morris was Jewell with her own medical problems and they made quite a pair.
When I came to Birmingham in 1978, I bought a used aluminum fishing boat, which I had the name “Koinonia” painted on each side of the boat stern. In the Bible, the word refers to the highest form of Christian fellowship. Morris and I fished many times from this boat. I think the name described our relationship.