Donald Robert “Don” Morris left this life February 19, 2022, at the age of 85, and ran into the arms of his Savior, Jesus Christ.
He was born in Dyersburg, TN to Riley L. Morris and Grace Tucker Morris on May 18, 1936. His father died when he was two years old, and he was raised by his mother and stepfather Charles Strickland, who preceded him in death.
Don graduated from Dyersburg High School where he played the clarinet in the marching band. After high school, he joined the US Air Force and then graduated in 1962 from Union University with a Bachelor of Music in Clarinet Performance. He also holds a Master of Educational Psychology from the University of Tennessee Martin.
As a student-athlete at Union University, Morris won the Volunteer State Athletic Conference (VSAC) Individual Golf Championship in 1961. He was named to the Tennessee Collegiate All-State team by finishing in the top six of the Tennessee Intercollegiate Tournament. Morris helped lead the Bulldogs to a VSAC team championship in 1959. Along with men’s golf, Morris was a member of the university’s symphonic band and the Alpha Tau Omega social fraternity. During his time at Union, he also spent time coaching football and basketball teams in the local city park leagues in Jackson.
His first job out of college in 1962 was band director for Chester County High School in Henderson, TN, where he worked until his move back to Union in 1969. During his time as a student at Union and over the years since then, Morris has served as Minister of Music at the following churches: Southside Baptist Church (Jackson), First Baptist Church (Henderson), Unity Baptist Church (Lexington), and Westover Baptist Church (Jackson). He has also served as an Interim Minister of Music in the following churches: the First Baptist Churches in Alamo, Bells, Bruceton, Newbern, Ripley, and Greenfield.
Morris started working for Union in January of 1969 as an Admissions Counselor where he served for four years. Morris then moved to Union’s Financial Aid department where he remained for the remainder of his career. He worked as a Financial Aid Officer for three years and was named the Director of Financial Aid where he served for 23 years. His final stop was being named the Assistant Vice President of Financial Aid where he served for 13 years. In 2006, Morris was inducted into the inaugural class of the Union Sports Hall of Fame.
He coached the Bulldogs golf team from 1973 until his retirement in 1998. In 2001, he returned to lead the program until 2006, then again in 2015-16. In all, Morris was the head coach for men’s golf for 32 years and women’s golf for one season. In all the years since 1973 where he was not head coach of the program, he was serving the program as a volunteer assistant, staying involved in teaching the game. Morris has been involved with the Union golf program in some way for 50 consecutive seasons. In his 31 years as head coach of the Union University golf team, he led the Bulldogs to 11 NAIA National Tournament appearances. He also won eight conference championships and three district championships. Morris was named coach of the year on 11 separate occasions.
He was an active member and deacon of First Baptist Church in Jackson where he played in the church orchestra. Morris was a past president of the Westover Ruritan Club and past president of both Westover and Denmark PTA.
He leaves his wife of 61 years, Pat Holland Morris and three sons – Bob Morris and wife Teresa, Mel Morris, and Andy Morris and wife Charity. He rejoiced in eight grandchildren, Amber, Cody, Noah, Heath, Elijah, Isabell, Hannah-Grace and Ellie-Joy Morris and three great-grandchildren, Hailey Harris, Lemmy and Baker Morris. He was proud of his namesake of Robert Morris continuing through four generations – Donald Robert, Donald Robert, Jr, Robert Cody and Robert Baker Morris.
SERVICES: A funeral service will be held at 11:00 AM Friday, February 25, 2022, in the Sanctuary of First Baptist Church of Jackson, 1627 N. Highland Ave., Jackson, TN 38301.
The family will be receiving friends and family on Thursday, February 24, 2022, from 4:00 PM until 6:00 PM at Arrington Funeral Directors and again on Friday, February 25, 2022, from 9:00 AM until 11:00 AM at First Baptist Church.
Don will be laid to rest at Ridgecrest Cemetery, with a committal service being held at 2:00 PM Friday with military honors.
For those unable to attend the service, it will be livestreamed at YouTube.com/fbcjackson.org.
In lieu of flowers, the family asked that donations may be made in Don’s memory to First Baptist Church, 1627 N. Highland Ave. Jackson. TN, 38301 or at fbcjackson.org, or to the Union University Golf Program, 1050 Union University Drive, Jackson, TN 38305 or at www.uu.edu.