KW Morrow, White River

June 7th, 2004

In Memorial: William L. Morrow, Jr. 1923-2004
By KW Morrow (silvermallard)

With the World War II generation dying at a rate of over 1,000 per day, we are losing our heroes far to quickly to give proper honor to each passing. William L. Morrow, Jr. was my father, and a veteran of World War II. He was the fleet-leading Signalman aboard the flagship of the landing craft fleet which carried the 1st Infantry Division ashore at Normandy Beach, France, on D-Day. Before the war actually started, he volunteered for the US Navy; turning down his first of two opportunities to play college basketball.

After the war, he returned home to Jefferson City, Missouri, and met my mother, Alice Kathryn Hunter. Starting a new family, he forsook his second opportunity to take a basketball scholarship to Missouri University and hired out on the Missouri Pacific Railroad.

I am the fifth of their six children. My parents truly dedicated their lives to raising a family. During my childhood, my father passed on an opportunity to pursue yet another of his dreams - becoming an NFL referee.

As an adult, my father quit smoking and forsook hunting after his best friend was killed in a turkey hunting accident in an effort to make sure he was around for his children. As a boy, he and his father took to commercial fishing on the Missouri River during the Great Depression. To Dad, fishing was work. And hunting was too dangerous for a father of six. Yet, he is the man responsible for teaching me to hunt and fish, and his instruction was expert. Of course, he also taught us to play baseball, basketball, golf, and tennis. And he taught us many important life skills and lessons. He was strict...even stern. But he loved his family ferociously with all his heart and soul.

Battling bipolar disorder all his life, my father managed a feat not many of us afflicted by this disease can: he retired after more than 30 years of continuous service from the Union Pacific Railroad as a company officer my senior year of high school, 1983. He was 60 years old.

The changes in the world these heroes of our "greatest generation" witnessed, absorbed, and adapted to has been staggering. This point was brought home to me with crystal clarity by the following incident...and one of my fondest memories of my father.

During Desert Storm, I called home from Japan during a brief stopover while I was serving in the US Navy. My father answered the phone, which was unusual in my parents' household. I identified myself and there was silence. I identified myself again and asked if he could hear me. He replied, "I can hear you, son."

And I could tell he was crying. I said, "Dad, I'm OK. I'm fine."

He said, "I'm glad to hear it, but that's not the problem, son." I asked what was wrong. His answer struck me like a bolt of lightning and I was charged with the sudden realization of just how much he had witnessed, endured, and overcome.

"You sound like you're calling from down the street," he said, choking back the tears. It just hit me that I never got a chance to call home from Europe during the war, and if I had the connection would have been very poor. But my parents didn't have a telephone in their home and we didn't have access to one as sailors in those days either. I just caught myself wishing I could have called them and told them I was OK, too. And I realized how much things have changed in my lifetime."

Change...the one constant in the Universe. Dad has made his final change. He has witnessed, endured, and overcome his final change. Last night, in a manner befitting this great American hero, he passed away in his sleep at the age of 81 after spending the day working in the yard with his wife of nearly six decades.

William L. Morrow, Jr. is survived by his wife, six children, twelve grandchildren, and four great grandchildren. His legacy lives on in the contributions he made to the two things he loved the most: his family and his country. Rest in peace noble warrior, father, husband, grandpa, and mentor. ~ Ken

About Ken:

Ken graduated from Southern Methodist University in 1988, and spent the next several years serving in the United States Navy as an intelligence analyst and Russian Language translator. He is a veteran of Desert Shield and Desert Storm. Leaving the nation's service in 1993.

Ken is also a published outdoor writer and historian, having penned articles and stories that have appeared in several national hunting publications like North American Hunter magazine, on GunMuse.com, in regional and local newspapers, and historical and literary journals. He also provides hunting and dog training seminars for Bass Pro Shops and other sporting goods retailers nationwide and works with other outdoors businesses and conservation organizations in the fields of public relations, promotional marketing, fund-raising, and advertising. He also is a partner in Silver Mallard Properties, LLC. He currently resides with his wife, Wilma, their Weimaraner, Smoky Joe, and their Labrador Retriever, Jake, in Branson, Missouri, where he founded the Branson/Tri-Lakes Chapter of Ducks Unlimited in 1998.


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