Obituary for H. Theron Morris, Jr “Ron”

H. Theron “Ron” Morris, Jr., of Gentley Farm in Rockland, Warren County, Va., passed away peacefully on September 11, 2012, at the Blue Ridge Hospice Inpatient Care Center in Winchester, Va., ending his long illness with Parkinson’s disease.

Born in Woodland, N.C., on November 22, 1936, Ron was the son of Herman Theron Morris and Callie Waters Morris. Raised on a beautiful southern farm, he worked hard tending to livestock and raising and harvesting tobacco, cotton, and peanuts. He graduated from Woodland-Olney High School, N.C. in 1954 and soon joined the U.S. Air Force. He was stationed in Winnemucca, Nevada, and it was during his service there that he began his career as a newspaper writer and editor. It was during this time that Ron’s childhood fascination with the American West grew into a lifelong passion.

After his tour with the Air Force, Ron’s newspaper experience led him to the job of chief copy desk editor at the Virginian Pilot/Ledger Star in Norfolk, Virginia. It was during this time that he studied at Columbia University. After many years at the Norfolk paper, he decided to go West to Loveland, Colorado, were he held the position of managing editor of the Loveland Daily Reporter- Herald. Finally, in 1981, he joined The Winchester Star as managing editor, the post he held until his retirement in 2000.

His contribution to The Star included a highly innovative and professional approach to publishing a daily newspaper. He revamped the design of the paper to give it a cleaner, more spacious and orderly appearance and held his staff to a level of reporting and writing that was rare for a newspaper of The Star’s size and circulation. He was able to achieve this by his remarkable ability to manage people with deep respect, high expectations, and encouragement, blended with humor and understanding. These qualities made him not only effective in the newsroom, but also very much loved.

One of Ron’s popular contributions to The Star was the institution of Column One, a series of personal reflections by three writers each week, with his own commentary appearing on Wednesdays. It was in Column One that he was finally able to showcase his gift for writing, which combined the influence of his southern roots, his wide-eyed vision of the West, and his instinctive comprehension of the human condition to create articles that were exuberant, insightful, and humorous, offering glimpses into the qualities that made up both the writer and the man.

In 1982, Ron met Susan Bowen, a Warren County farmer and a Frederick County Teacher at the Bass-Hoover Elementary School in Stephens City. They were married on January 1, 1990. Their quiet, peaceful life with their beloved dogs at Gentley Farm was a refuge from the stress of the everyday work world for both of them.

Surviving with Susan are Ron’s son, Quinn Morris, wife, Julie Winslow Morris, and two grandchildren, Jinna and Alex, of Winchester; his daughter, Rhonda Morris, and her husband, Richard Bennett, also of Winchester; a sister, June Morris Lazo, of Laurel, Md., and a brother, Robert Darrell Morris, of Littleton, N.C. Ron was preceded in death by a brother, Allen Waters Morris, in 2005.

A memorial service will be held on Saturday, September 29, 2012, at 2:00 P. M. at Rockland Community Church. The service will be conducted by Rev. Christof Weber. The family will receive friends at a reception at Gentley afterwards.

In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to Blue Ridge Hospice, 333 West Cork St., Winchester, VA 22602 or to Rockland Community Church, c/o George Chapman, Treasurer, 473 Bowling View Road, Front Royal, VA 22630.

Arrangements are being handled by Enders & Shirley Funeral Home, Berryville, VA.

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