When it came to enriching local history, the performing arts, public education, senior adult living and spiritual development, Twin Cities' residents could hardly think of a more generous and prolific giver than Josh Morriss Jr.
The longtime philanthropist, civic and business leader passed away Thursday at 95.
"I have never known a finer man then Mr. Morriss," said Texarkana, Texas, attorney Fred Norton Jr. "He was a role model for many of us who admired him for his tender heart, his generous spirit and his manifest integrity."
Morriss became an Eagle Scout and also received the Silver Beaver Award, Silver Antelope Award and Distinguished Eagle Scout Award for his efforts in Scouting.
"He literally lived the Scout Oath and Scout Law every day," Norton said. "His commitment to his family, his faith and his hometown were unparalleled — and while no one can ever fill the void he leaves, his life inspired us to be better people and to do more for others."
Morriss became a boyhood friend of H. Ross Perot, who later became a billionaire and presidential candidate. Perot said more than once that he idolized Morriss for his positive influence and inspiration, said Scott Bruner, Morriss' longtime friend and business associate.
As a graduate from Texas High School in 1942, Morriss served as the THS class secretary and was president of his senior class. He was also in the Drama Club, basketball, baseball and football.
Following high school, Morriss attended Texas A&M University at College Station and was later accepted into the United States Naval Academy in 1943 — a move that Bruner said inspired Perot to do the same several years later.
Perot, in fact, honored Morriss and his efforts in Scouting by naming the entrance to the National Scouting Museum after him.
Morriss earned a Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering, along with spending five years in the Navy. After leaving the service, he remained in the reserves until age 35.
He married Martha Leah Williams on New Year's Eve, Dec. 31, 1948.
The two worked as a team for nearly seven decades on projects such as restoring the Perot Theatre, fundraising to turn the county building into the Regional Arts Center, building efforts for Williams Memorial United Methodist Church and the development of Cornerstone Retirement Center for senior citizens.
Along with Morriss' stellar leadership at Offenhauser & Company, he seriously dedicated much of his life to serving in his church, Williams Memorial United Methodist Church, Bruner said.
This included Morriss serving as a member of its building and finance committees and as a trustee, Sunday School teacher and lifetime choir member.
"What a Godly, gentlemanly, soft-spoken leader Josh was for Offenhauser, church and community," Bruner said. "He lived the Golden Rule."
Morriss served as a volunteer and member of the Wilbur Smith Rotary Club, United Way of Greater Texarkana, Texarkana Chamber of Commerce, Texarkana Regional Airport Authority and on the Caddo Area Council of Boy Scouts.
Morriss was awarded the C.E. Palmer in in 1974 — Texarkana's highest honor for lifetime civic achievement. His father won the award in 1955 and his wife would win it in 1991, as would two of their two sons later on.
In 2007, Texarkana Independent School District named its newly built STEM expansion the Martha and Josh Morriss Mathematics & Engineering Elementary School.
"Mr. Morriss was an incredibly wonderful man and he did so many things for TISD, as well as for the rest of the entire community, " said TISD Superintendent Paul Norton. "As a member of the Class of '42, we're so proud that he is part of our alumni."
Josh and Martha had three sons — Chief Justice Josh Morriss III, Don Morriss and William Morriss.
Martha Morriss passed away April 6, 2019.