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William Harrell Morris Jr.

1929 - 2017 Obituary Condolences
William Harrell Morris Jr. Obituary
William Harrell Morris, Jr.

Memphis, TN

William Harrell Morris died peacefully September 20, 2017, at the Allen Morgan Health Center in Trezevant Manor. Mr. Morris was born in Memphis, Tennessee, January 5, 1929, the son of William H. Morris, Sr. and Rosaland Gooch Morris. His parents moved to Jackson, Tennessee, when Bill was a small boy. He was educated in the Jackson public schools, attended the University of Tennessee and was a member of the SAE Fraternity. He served in the U.S. Naval Reserve during the Korean Conflict. He married the former Nancy Johnson of Henderson, Tennessee, in 1954. He was a member of the First United Methodist Church, chairman of the Board of Stewards, was a member of the Board of Union Planters Bank, and the Jackson Rotary Club. Mr. Morris was a founding member of Tennessee Sheriffs' Youth Town and President of Goals for Jackson. He was active in Republican politics at local, state, and national levels. From 1970 to 1976, he served as Executive Assistant to U.S. Senator Bill Brock. He was active for 30 years in his family business, Gooch-Edenton Wholesale Hardware Company.

In 1979, Mr. Morris accepted the position of Deputy Commissioner of Economic Development for the state of Tennessee. During his tenure he was instrumental in recruiting the Nissan Corporation to build a $700 million truck and automobile assembly plant in the state. In 1980, he and Mrs. Morris moved to Washington, D.C., where he served in the National Reagan-Bush campaign. In 1981, he was appointed by President Reagan as Assistant Secretary of the U.S. Department of Commerce for International Trade. He served as Commissioner General to the U.S. World Fairs in Knoxville, Tennessee, in 1982, and in New Orleans, in 1984. In 1983 Mr. Morris was elected Vice President of the Bureau of International Expositions in Paris, France. He was appointed to serve as the U.S. delegate to the United Nations Industrial Development Commission in Vienna, Austria, from 1984 to 1987.

Upon leaving government service, Mr. Morris returned to the private sector, serving for several years as President and Chief Executive Officer of Global USA, a government relations firm based in Washington. He was one of the founding partners of the Red, Hot and Blue, Memphis Barbeque chain. In 1990, Mr. and Mrs. Morris moved back to their native Tennessee, making their home in Memphis where he served as Chairman of Global Associates, LLC. Mr. Morris also served on the Board of Directors of American Health Companies and the Board of United Laboratories. In 1993, he was appointed Executive-in-Residence at Christian Brothers University and served as Chairman of the Centre of Global Enterprise at the University. He received an Honorary Doctorate of Laws from Lambuth University in Jackson, Tennessee, in 1994; and in 2001, he was awarded an Honorary Doctorate of Public Service from Christian Brothers University. He served on the Endowment Committee, the Finance Committee and the Board of Trustees of St. Luke's United Methodist Church. In 2003, Mr. Morris was elected to the Board of Directors of Trezevant Manor. In 2006, he and Mrs. Morris moved to Trezevant Manor where he continued to be actively involved in making a contribution to those around him.

He will be remembered by his family and his many friends as a caring loyal friend and a loving human being. In addition to his parents he was predeceased by a young son, John, and a sister-in-law, Betty Morris. He is survived by his wife Nancy; son Bob Morris (Karen); daughter, Mary Morris Johnson; grandson, Keaton Morris; granddaughters, Rachel Morris and Sophia Johnson; brother Herron Morris; and nephew Dick Morris (Susan); brother in law Jack Johnson (Glenda).

There will be a private burial at the Highland Memorial Gardens in Jackson, Tennessee. A Celebration of Life will be held at St. Luke's Methodist Church at 3 pm on Monday, September 25, 2017 followed by a reception in the church parlor. The family suggests that in lieu of flowers, donations be made to St. Luke's United Methodist Church, 480 South Highland Street, Memphis, TN, 38111, or Trezevant Foundation, 177 North Highland Street, Memphis, TN, 38111, or charity of donor's choice.
Published in The Commercial Appeal on Sept. 22, 2017
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