Thomas E. Morris, a retired Navy rear admiral who fought in World War II
and the Korean War
before turning his family business into a
multi-million dollar company, died Sunday of a sudden illness, his
family said. He was 80.
Mr. Morris, who lived in Juno Isles, was highly decorated and held
multiple commands during his career, including commander of the NATO
Task group in the Mediterranean. His family said he was a two-time
recipient of the Legion of Merit and received the Distinguished Public
Service Award from the Navy and Coast Guard.
Active in Republican politics and the local business community, Mr.
Morris was a member of Congressman Mark Foley's Veterans Advisory
Committee and Congressman E. Clay Shaw's U.S. Naval Academy Interview
Committee, his family said. He recently received a presidential
appointment by George W. Bush to the American Battle Monument Commission.
"He comes from a generation that Tom Brokaw called the greatest
generation, and he had the feeling that others came before himself,"
said his son, Mark Morris, 49. "He was always active in affairs of state
and culture because he found those things important."
Born in Boston, Mass., in 1926, Mr. Morris was one of eight siblings,
his son said. He attended good schools and was classically educated,
learning to speak and read Latin. As a child he lived on the same street
as his future wife, Rosamond Morris, whom he married in 1953 upon his
return from the Korean War.
Mr. Morris and two of his brothers purchased the family business -- a
plumbing and heating wholesale business -- from their father and turned
it into a multi-million dollar enterprise before selling it, Mark Morris
He was also the founding director of the Navy War College Foundation and
a trustee of the Coast Guard Academy Foundation. He attended Holy Cross
College and Princeton and Northwestern universities as well as the Navy
War College, Army War College and the National War College, his family
"He never set out to become a great American, but he became one just by
persevering and loving this country," Mark Morris said.
Mr. Morris was predeceased by his wife. Survivors include sons Mark and
Bryce, and a foster son, Ralph.
A Funeral Mass will be 9:30 a.m. Friday at St. Ignatius Loyola
Cathedral, 9999 N. Military Trail in Palm Beach Gardens. Burial will be
at Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia.