John Miller Morris
February 16, 2017
John Miller Morris, Jr., 64, passed away on February 16, 2017 in a San Antonio hospital after surgery, attended by friends who traveled thousands of miles to come to his bedside. He is survived by a daughter Erin Claire Noakes of Washington D.C. He will be missed by his longtime companion, many friends, colleagues, and neighbors.

John grew up in Amarillo in the Texas Panhandle and his early experiences in the southwest shaped his work, home, and life. He was an Eagle Scout and high school underground newspaper editor demonstrating his civic priorities from an early age. He obtained a bachelor degree (Plan II Honors Program), two master's degrees (Community & Regional Planning and Slavic Literature and Language), and a doctoral degree (Geography and Planning) from The University of Texas at Austin where he also competed in fencing. His love of the land and his personal heritage was demonstrated through his long involvement in the family's business, the C.B. Morris Company, one of the first family farm corporations in Texas.

As a scholar, he authored and edited multiple books on his way to his full professorship at the University of Texas at San Antonio, including El Llano Estacado which remains the definitive work on the history, geography, culture and peoples of that region. He also received multiple awards including the UT Regents Outstanding Teaching Award and the Piper Professor Award for his "dedication to the teaching profession and for outstanding academic achievement."

John was well-respected throughout the state and was a member of many professional organizations including the Texas Institute of Letters, the Texas State Historical Association, and the West Texas Historical Association (current president). He was also a charter member of the Sensitive Men, a monthly brunch/politics/Frisbee fellowship in Austin and a vital member of the Pros & Cons, a group of scholarly colleagues who met monthly for critical dialogue and conviviality.

John was also an integral force in keeping his Austin neighborhood and the surrounding area on RM 2222 beautiful, livable places. He worked tirelessly to improve and expand Long Canyon's unique hiking trail system. He served on the homeowner's association board for numerous terms. He worked with developers in the RM 2222 corridor to assure that developments would be tasteful, as unobtrusive as possible, minimize environmental impacts, and in character with the Hill Country.

He was brilliant, outgoing, inquisitive, energetic and unique. One of his many legacies is a 140-year-old Victorian house he rescued from demolition in the west campus area in 1978, moved twice, and lovingly restored in the woods and hills of west Austin. If you would like to share a memory of John or would like more information about memorials, please email [email protected]

Memorial contributions may be made on his behalf to the John Miller Morris UTSA scholarship here

Published by San Antonio Express-News on Mar. 5, 2017.
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16 Entries
I have put myself down as "acquaintance" even though I never met John. But I have just purchased many pages from his stamp collection and I feel a strong link back to him. The pages are beautifully organised and catalogued and I believe he & I could have had a great conversation about them. I will look after them.
Malcolm Coe
March 27, 2021
Dina Marie
February 28, 2021
If he were still alive I am sure he would like to know that I am still selling his Mexico Imperial Eagles and Foreign Mail issue stamps.
Martin spufford
February 27, 2021
I wrote some of the obituary nd a tribute in 2017, but I did not see this guest book and so will add a few thoughts now. I met Miller through David Pittard around 1975. He was the Best Man at both of my weddings. We hiked often, took a few road trips, and expanded our consciousnesses for 40+ years. He was such an intellect that every conversation was invigorating. He left a lot of unfinished business at the time of is early death; that, too, has inspired me to clean up my own act. I love this guy and will never forget him.
David Reynolds
February 27, 2021
I met John on the boat from France to England.He stayed in my London flat while waiting to go to Moscow. I have never met anyone like him since - it was an unforgettable experience and I was happy to see him once more when I visited Austin some years later. I'm not surprised he died young - he lived at such an intense level. My condolences to his companion. Jacqueline. 17/1/2020
January 17, 2020
He was my mentor and my friend. He is the reason I chose my degree and occupation. He will be truly missed.
Tim O'Connor
January 10, 2018
I will miss your almost weekly contact over the past 10 years, not least being your inimitable telephone messages when you were away!!.

My condolences to those you have left behind and you can rest assured I will do the 'right thing" by your heirs.

Your friend "spuff" in New Zealand.
March 16, 2017
Ah John. You were a quirky, memorable, unique light that burned quick and bright. You will be missed by many and forgotten by few. May the hearts of those who loved you be comforted that you did so much, so well, so fully. Blessings to your family, friends, loved one, colleagues and all the strangers that admired you.

"My candle burns at both ends;
It will not last the night;
But ah, my foes, and oh, my friends
It gives a lovely light!"
-Edna St Vincent Millay
Colleen Carmean
March 15, 2017
I will always remember you as a sympathic ear with an interest in my work in collecting antique Texas photography. Your interest in the subject was deep, and you built your own wonderful collection of early Texas photographic images. So, it is as a "collector" that will come to mind when I remember you and keep you in my heart. We often talked about our similar our lives were, growing up in Amarillo, and spending so much time at the Bivins Library. We talked about this and many other things during our frequent lunches together at Threadgills. Have a smooth and safe ride Amigo. You will be remembered by me and so many others.
Lawrence Jones
March 14, 2017
A phenomenal teacher, a wise soul, and passionate scholar, Dr. Morris will be truly missed. He literally altered the path of my life, and I owe him immensely. Mentors of his caliber are truly irreplaceable. Happy travels, friend.-Andrea
Andrea Trease
March 8, 2017
A true Texas Gentleman who was always happy to see you you will be missed Such an opened mind
Pamela Edwards
March 7, 2017
John Miller Morris...The geographic and academic communities have lost a wonderfully brilliant star. I considered you a very close mentor during my years as an undergraduate at UTSA. But as time went on, not only did I consider you a mentor, but a colleague and a dearest friend for whom I had nothing but the highest esteem and admiration. When I was young and malleable, you taught me what it meant to ask questions, to think outside the normal parameters, and to open my mind to the world. You taught me to look at opposing ideas with thoughtful consideration and introspection. What an astounding mind you had. I will never forget our long hours of engaging, thought-provoking, and humbling conversation about the state of the world and life (with a little banter thrown in, of course, because you never let anything get too serious-- a trait I dearly admired). You actively challenged my worldview and made me a better global denizen. You truly molded me into the adult that I am today, and I can't thank you enough. You were a roaring fire that stood out amongst embers, and should absolutely be remembered as such. I will miss you dearly, Dr. Morris, and the world will miss you dearly, Dr. Morris. Your light was taken far too soon.

Rest easily, my friend.

Brittany Legg
March 6, 2017
Morris was a legendary professor who I've already missed dearly since I graduated four years ago. His opinions and lessons fortified my love of geography, and his lectures were a pleasure to sit through. I took multiple classes he taught and never missed a single lecture. His life experiences and the sheer eloquence of his lectures made him perhaps the most captivating educators I'v had the pleasure of learning from. He certainly led an amazing life. You'll be missed, Dr. Morris! My condolences to the family, friends, colleagues, and students of this amazing man.
Trevor Wilburn
March 6, 2017
I was so sorry to hear about John Miller leaving us too soon. Such a unique character! He had the wisdom of an old soul but saw the world through the eyes of a child. I will miss our hikes and debates, reading lists and movie reviews. Thank you for being part of my life John Miller! You were loved and will be missed!
Kelly Ignatoff
March 6, 2017
Dr. Morris was a fantastic professor. I could not get enough of his classes and stories about Russia, the evil empire, or Vienna. I learned so much about the world, especially Europe from his classes. Dr. Morris is one of the people who inspired me to get my MS in Geography. He was a fantastic storyteller and made geography about more than just places on a map.

One story I remember very well was about a trip he had in Europe. He did not have any place to stay for the night, so he hopped a small stone fence and slept on a bench. When he woke in the morning, several children were watching him. He had slept in a school yard without knowing! One of the children came up to him and offered him a fresh bowl of strawberries for breakfast.

You will not be forgotten, thank you for everything.
Liz Cook
March 6, 2017
Ahhh Miller, I never expected you to die so soon. I was counting on you to be there for another 30 years, to continue our yearly banter about politics, religion, history and music. You have inspired me since 1975 when we met at UT. I never thought that a guy from Amarillo, TX would educate an L.A. girl...but you did and it continued for years. We shared laughs and tears, friends and foes, fears and hopes.
You will never be forgotten, my dear. You are in the hearts of so many friends and students. You empowered so many to think outside the box, to take a chance at changing what is wrong in the world.
Good night sweet prince.
March 5, 2017
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