Marilyn Joan Morris
1954 - 2021
Marilyn Joan Morris passed away on September 21, 2021 at age 67 amid complications following heart surgery. A relentlessly caring, irrepressibly funny, endlessly creative gardener, landscape designer, advocate, singer, thinker, activist, cook, craftswoman, explorer, daughter, sister, wife, aunt, and mother, Marilyn leaves an immense presence in the hearts of the many people who know and love her. Born to the late Mathew and Emily (Gatzke) Morris on May 1, 1954, in Evanston, Illinois, Marilyn spent her early life in the Chicago suburb of Glenview. She survived a bout of Hodgkin's lymphoma at age 19 to live a vibrant and wonderful life. She completed her Bachelor's degree in botany and her Master's degree in entomology at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign before working at the Illinois Natural History Survey studying wetlands. After she married Californian biologist Lawrence (Larry) LaPr‚, the pair moved to Riverside, CA and raised their son Nathan Morris LaPr‚. Marilyn worked in the Children's Room of the downtown Riverside Public Library, organizing countless public arts, crafts, and cultural events. A lifelong advocate of sustainable landscapes and gardening, Marilyn organized community gardening efforts and events, volunteered garden designs, practiced and taught home gardening, and held annual neighborhood plant sales. She was a founder and designer of the Tequesquite Community Garden. She launched her business - Morris Landscape Design - through which she transformed many yards into beautiful and water-efficient landscapes. A true daughter of the Midwest, Marilyn celebrated her roots and renewed long-term friendships with annual trips back to Illinois and Minnesota. In recent years, she and Larry enjoyed their second home overlooking Lake Superior and roamed northeastern Minnesota by car, foot, and canoe. Marilyn's intellect, talent, and compassion are evident in her many interests, convictions, and deep friendships. A long-time vegetarian and naturalist, she was fiercely committed to sustainable living and spent much of her time exploring the natural world. To walk with Marilyn through a field of flowers was to learn the name of every passing plant. A voracious reader, Jeopardy! fan, musician, yoga enthusiast, apple picker, baker, and artist, Marilyn managed to fit more activity into her life than most. Consistently warm-hearted and unfailingly witty, she cultivated friends everywhere she went. Her irreplaceable joviality and kindness leave indelible marks in the memories of her friends and loved ones. Marilyn is survived by her husband Larry, her son Nathan, her sister Kathleen Hodges, many other relatives, and her dog Lola. Marilyn's family is planning celebrations of life tentatively to be held in Riverside and the Midwest next spring on dates near her birthday.

Published by The Press-Enterprise on Oct. 7, 2021.
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9 Entries
Marilyn was my neighbor and was the first one to help me when i had Covid , she brought me vitamins and homemade food ... I'll never forget it and will miss our small talk about everything ... and Marilyn i promise not to block the sidewalk lol God bless
Rob Moreno
October 19, 2021
Such a beautiful obituary. Truly captures the essence of Marilyn as I knew her. My heartfelt condolences to Larry and Nathan and family.
Donna Nelson
October 18, 2021
Larry and Nathan, so incredibly saddened by Marilyn leaving this earth far too early. I loved getting to know her when we worked in SECS together and wish we had stayed closer as her beautifully crafted story here shows our lives have run parallel in so many ways. She was always so kind and thoughtful and when my dear husband Steve passed early in his 50s she wrote me the most lovely remembrances. Having been there with early passings, do feel free to reach out if ever you need support in any way when the rest of the world keeps going and your grief waves continue ebbing and flowing. You are in our hearts as is Marilyn....Jan K and Greg know how to reach me......
Diana Meisenhelter
October 15, 2021
Wow Marilyn, so shocked and saddened by your untimely death. You and Larry were and are great neighbors and I feel extra special to have lived so close for so long. You will definitely be missed.
Todd Bentley
October 12, 2021
I will miss seeing her so many places, whether walking her dog and sharing books for my fence library to seeing her at Riverside Library events. She was truly special.
Susan Straight
October 11, 2021
A truly funny lady.
Sala Ponnech
October 9, 2021
Marilyn graced our community with her characteristic kindness, creativity, and caring. We're all better for having known her. At the public library where we were colleagues, with refugee families whom she was helping, in gardens, at plant sales and peace-walks, at concerts - in all these places and many more - I'll remember dear Marilyn, who knew so clearly what truly matters in life and love. May we honor her memory by striving to live as fully and honestly as she did.
Kathryn MORTON
October 7, 2021
So shocked to hear of Marilyn's passing, We are saddened for her family and friends. A beautiful person whom we always looked forward to seeing on the schedule. Our hearts go out to you at this time.
Dr. Grewal's dental office
October 7, 2021
Dear Nathan, I remember your mom from the time I was your first grade teacher at Magnolia Elementary. I am so sorry for your loss. I would occasionally see her around town at estate sales we both frequented, and she would fill me in about your progress. She was so proud of you (as am I!) and passionate about her design and landscape business. You and your dad are in my prayers during this difficult time.
Jennifer L. Anderson
October 7, 2021
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