Robert Morris, Class of 1944

Posted Jan 29, 2020

Robert Morris ’44 died Dec. 1, 2019. He was born in Westerville, Ohio to the late Marion and Mary Morris on August 4, 1922. He graduated from Westerville High School in 1940 and attended Otterbein where he was a member of the Pi Kappa Phi fraternity, played intramural sports and the alto horn in the marching band and earned varsity letters as a basketball forward and baseball pitcher, acquiring the nickname ‘Speedball’ in the latter. He was also active in the Otterbein ‘O’ Club.
While in college, he worked school breaks and summers for Otterbein and at The Kilgore Mfg. Co. and The Jaeger Machine Company. During his junior year, he was called to active duty in 1943 after having enlisted the year before in the U.S. Navy Reserve following the United States’ entry into WWII. During a four day leave in March of 1944, Bob married his college sweetheart, the late Ruth Julia “Judy” Thomas ’60. The couple first met and sat together on the Otterbein band bus during the first 1941 away football game at Kenyon College. Bob graduated from Otterbein in 1944 in absentia, while on active duty, with a B.A. in business administration, his father accepting the diploma for him at commencement.

He separated from the U.S. Navy as a Lieutenant, after ten years of combined active and reserve federal service. Bob first worked in Columbus in the “246 Building” as a personal lines underwriter for the Farm Bureau Insurance Company, predecessor of today’s Nationwide Insurance, then briefly for the Lennox Furnace Company as an HVAC engineer and draftsman, before taking a position as an elevator inspection and safety engineer for the Hartford Accident and Indemnity Company, then located on the 32nd floor in the A.I.U. Citadel. In 1953, the family relocated to the Los Angeles area where Bob partnered in Morris and Associates with CPA Paul Cone in a hospital administration and physician practice group consultancy, and was a part-time adjunct adult course instructor in 3 Los Angeles area high schools. He completed additional coursework in Downey, CA and at USC before entering an Allstate Insurance Company management training program. When contacted about an independent insurance agency opportunity in Sunbury, the family returned to Ohio in 1955, and in 1956, Bob purchased the Whitney Insurance Agency Inc. from Hoyt Whitney. He continued to work and fulfill his Ohio continuing education requirements until April of 2018, having spent over 69 years of his working career in the insurance industry, the past 63 of those years as an independent agent and business owner.

Bob was preceded in death by his beloved wife. He is survived by his son David Morris, by granddaughters Sarah McKinney and Haley Van Wie, and beloved great-grand children Claire, Matthew, and Paige, as well as by many other relatives, by longtime friends Chiyoe and Masao Sugiyama of Yokohama, Japan, whose daughter Narumi’90 spent summers with the Morris family while attending Otterbein.