Dick Morris is active in his community, both locally and on a national level. That involvement was part of the reason for his selection as the newest Paul Harris Fellow by the El Dorado Rotary Club
Dick Morris is active in his community, both locally and on a national level. That involvement was part of the reason for his selection as the newest Paul Harris Fellow by the El Dorado Rotary Club.
"I'm very humbled about getting this award," Morris said.
He was recognized during a ceremony at their meeting Wednesday.
"Today we have a very worthy recipient," said Steve Pershall, Rotary member.
Pershall went on to talk about Morris, who was honored for his service to Rotary, his profession, his community and especially for his leadership role in the creation of the National World War II Memorial in Washington, D.C.
Morris attended the University of Kansas and the Dallas Institute of Mortuary Science, where he earned the designation of certified funeral service practitioner. He has been affiliated with Kirby-Morris Funeral Home for 40 years. He also is a member of the National Funeral Directors and Kansas Funeral Directors. Kirby-Morris was one of only 17 funeral homes to receive the Golden Eagle Award from the National Funeral Directors Association. They also received the Golden Apple Award from USD 490 for providing limo rides to students to recognize their accomplishments in school.
"Every year my staff and I sit down to see what we can do to make the community better," Morris explained. "Any time you give of yourself you get so much more back in return."
Then in 2002, someone suggested they do something nationally.
Morris's biggest project was on the national level, being a driving force in the creation of the WWII memorial.
"It has just been wonderful," he said.
While serving as national chair for the National Funeral Directors, he helped raise more than $5 million for the project. Their group was the fourth largest contributor for the memorial following Walmart, the VFW and Federal Express. The memorial serves to acknowledge those who served on the battlefield and the home front during WWII. More than 16 names are registered on the computer at the memorial.
Morris also organized more than 1,200 volunteers in El Dorado to help package kits that filled three semi trucks that were used to raise funds. Through his leadership, the local effort saved the project nearly $300,000 in packaging and shipping costs.
For his efforts, the national headquarters of the V.F.W. presented him with the Americanism Award. He also was honored by President Bill Clinton, during which he made a visit to the White House. Morris also had the privilege of placing a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at Arlington Cemetery.
"I've never had an experience like that in my life," he said. "It was just an awesome experience."
In Rotary, Morris served as president for the 1997-1998 term. In 2001, he was named as Rotarian of the Year.
He also has played major roles in the creation of the Freedom Memorial and the Liberty Memorial at the Butler County Courthouse and the 9/11 Memorial at the Train Depot. In addition, he founded the Veteran of the Year Award and the veteran's memorial at Gordy Park.
He is a member of the First United Methodist Church and has participated in Big Brothers Big Sisters, Prairie Port Festival and Meals on Wheels. The El Dorado Good Neighbors Program named him as Volunteer of the Year.
He and his wife, Denice, have three children and five grandchildren.
"Dick is a shining example of the Rotary motto, 'service above self,'" Pershall said.
Appel then took the podium to present Morris as a Paul Harris Fellow.
"Dick has made a significant contribution to both the local and national level," Appel said. "And I can tell he is an inspiration to you."
The award is named after Paul Harris, the founder of the Rotary organization.
Morris was grateful for the recognition.
"As a boy, I tried to live my life by the Golden Rule," he said.
He said when he joined Rotary he realized their Four-Way Test follows the same principals.
"I realized I was with the right group," he said.
"Thank you for this special award."