1943 ~ 2016
John Kendall Morris was not a man of half measures. He was all in. He was intense about whatever he decided to pursue whether it was his work as a professor and attorney, his obsession with fitness, or diving into a new skill like skiing, bike racing, sailing, and speaking Spanish.
John was born on December 27, 1943 to Olive and Landon Morris. He and his three brothers grew up in the Los Angeles area. John paid his own way through UCLA fueled by pickle sandwiches, and then attended law school at Cal Berkeley (Boalt Hall) during the protests of the late 1960s. After law school he spent a year in San Francisco clerking for Chief Judge James R. Browning, and later he worked with his father as a Partner at Morris, Polich & Purdy in Los Angeles.
John was passionate about higher education and the law. After over ten years as a law professor at the SJ Quinney College of Law, he founded the General Counsel's office at the University of Utah in 1990. He also served as the President of the American Civil Liberties Union in Utah during the early 1990s. During his years as the University's General Counsel, he mentored countless attorneys, paralegals, and others who worked with him. He could not have been more committed to and satisfied by his work, and he thought of his colleagues at the University as an extension of his family. John served as Vice President and General Counsel at the University of Utah until he died.
John often said that in some ways being diagnosed with metastatic pancreatic cancer in November 2013 was a positive experience. It brought his priorities into stark focus and drew him even closer to his supportive network of family, friends, and coworkers. After promptly putting his affairs in order, including creating color-coded binders to keep every detail organized for his family, John applied his fierce determination to supporting efforts to develop a powerful early detection test for pancreas cancer (see SkewRight.org
). Although he was not expected to live long after his diagnosis, John survived over two years during which he worked, sailed, and traveled - and truly enjoyed his life.
John died on February 16, 2016. He was at home and surrounded by his family. He was preceded in death by his parents and by two older brothers, Landon and Gene. He leaves behind his best friend and wife of almost 45 years, Margaret, his son Matthew, daughter Amy, son-in-law Jeffrey, grandsons Milo and Baxter, and his brother Stephen. He also leaves behind many brothers- and sisters-in-law, nieces and nephews, and grandnieces and grandnephews. His passion and effusive love will be missed by everyone who knew him.
A celebration of John's life will be held in the Moot Courtroom at the College of Law at the University of Utah on March 4 at 5:00 pm. In lieu of flowers, please donate to the Morris Family Fund for early detection of pancreatic cancer at the Huntsman Cancer Institute (http://www.skewright.org/donate/
Published by The Salt Lake Tribune from Feb. 19 to Feb. 22, 2016.