In Memory

John Miller Morris

John Miller Morris

Lived in Austin

Cause of death:  Heart Attack

Hopefully more info to come.



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02/17/17 03:15 PM #1    

Pamela House

I am heartbroken to hear this.  Miller was a unique individual whose story has woven through my life in weird and wonderful ways. Some of you may remember the infamous "underground newspaper" SOL -- he was the instigator and creative driving force.  He roped me (along with many others) into helping with it, an adventure which provided spice and intrigue for that last year of high school.  Afterwards, when I was in school in Vienna in 1972, I was walking through the Hofburg with friends, when we encountered another group of American students. In that group was Miller.  I had lost touch with him and had no idea that he was also in Vienna for that year. 

We were only in touch occasionally through the years, so it was great to spend time with him at the last reunion and to discover his success in academia (see ). He was the author of several books and one of the smartest people I have ever known.  Ironically, I am pretty sure that he is one of the Key Club members kneeling in the photo on the "In Memory" main page.

02/17/17 05:25 PM #2    

Neil Whitaker

This is sad news- Miller was a delight to talk to, so full of ideas.  Pam's comment is right on- he was one of our finest minds.  She referred to the irony of Miller in the photo of Key Club Wranglers kneeling at a football game for the pregame prayer:  Miller Morris was the guy who once offered a simple, frank prayer for the school lunch one day over the PA system (remember when Key Club did that?), asking the Lord to protect us from food poisoning.  I was one of the Key Club officers called in by Mr. Lewis, who expected us to expel Miller from the club.  Instead, we had a stimulating conversation about freedom of religious expression that left the vice principal fuming.

Miller Morris, the world will miss you.

02/18/17 10:46 AM #3    

Terry Gholston (Rogstad)

This is so sad. Just does not seem that we are old enough for friends to be dying of heart attacks. I did not know Miller terribly well -- mainly through Pam. But he and I did have lunch together just before I left for college. He was an intriguing person. I am glad to see he had such a positive influence.

02/18/17 12:25 PM #4    

Brian Cowden

Miller was a neat guy...


02/19/17 11:07 AM #5    

Brad Carver

Miller, Miller, Miller, So sorry to see you go. My first memory is 8th grade Mrs Lorraine Hills class. Hill's Angels. We had her for 3 classes in a row, possibly Social Studies, English, then Homeroom. Miller invented the blow dart for us, and sold us sewing pins with a small piece of yarn tied to them, Remove the ink cartridge from your Bic pen, insert pin, and blow. The guys in the class had great fun shooting each other in back, arms etc; especially while having to answer a question in class. A few " Ouchs" while answering a question. Mrs Hill didn't catch on until for at least 3 or 4 weeks, when she went to use the globe and discovered it had 3 or 4 Darts stuck in it. I believe that was thanks to Lyndon Massey? Oh the class roared. I'm not sure if he ever got caught for providing them. I'm laughing so hard just remembering the fun times. Thanks for those laughs Miller. 

I wasn't in same classes with him at Tascosa. I ran into him again at UT in the dorm, our freshmen year. We car pooled a few times back to Amarilo.We had great conversations. He was getting serious with his studies. I believe learning Russian and I always wondered if he would be a Spy for us.  Brilliant mind and fun to be around in his quiet, modest way. Miss you Miller. 

02/19/17 05:25 PM #6    

John Randall Durrett

Ok, maybe I can post something coherent now.

Miller is one of the few classmates that I have kept in touch with over the decades.  We metup several times over the Thanksgiving/Christmas break and really enjoyed it.  He lived not far from my son and daughter in Austin.

Miller called me Sunday night and said that after class on Thursday while he was walking back to his car, he would get tired very fast and have to sit down and rest after only a few steps.  He went to the emergency room on Thursday and was moved to Intensive care.  He told me an operation on his heart was scheduled for the next week.

On Monday we texted, and he said the operation was scheduled for Tuesday morning.  He had that operation, and I think they cleaned out one of his arteries.  However, it did not fix it, and they scheduled another operation for Wednesday.  After the Wednesday operation, I was told that they determined he had had a heart attack in front of class on Thursday.

He never woke up from the Wednesday operation and passed on Thursday morning.

WOW will I miss Miller!

02/22/17 03:45 PM #7    

Haise Johnson (Currie)

Miller and I were always in each other's classes starting in seventh grade at Crockett and continuing through senior year at Tascosa.  I remember the globe incident in Mrs. Hill's room but didn't realize that he was the genius behind the darts.  I also remember that due to the lunch prayer, no one on the THS faculty or staff would write a letter of recommendation for him for Plan II Honors at UT.  So he wrote one recommending himself and got in.  The academic life seems like a fitting one for him--he was an orginal thinker and someone who always knew about subjects that most people didn't.  Very sad.

02/22/17 09:31 PM #8    

Scott Williamson

I can't believe he is gone--- Miller and I became best of friends when we met at Sunday School in a class taught by Charlie Pierce's Mom in a janitor's closet at an elementary school during our fourth grade year; we remained close friends: in church, in the cafeteria at Crocket before school started (playing chinese football), crashing bicycles on the unfinished I40 overpass off Coulter road, working together during the summer at the school textbook warehouse, spending time at my grandfather's farm, taking classes together (and yes I remember the infamous dart episodes in Mrs. Hill's room), working the Crockett concession stand; doing whatever Mr Wooldridge needed doing, working the stage lights, Key Club --- and then I moved.

We kept track of each other until college, after that I heard rumors but never could track him down;

Then I looked online at the Tascosa reunion for the class of 71 (40th), curious about long ago friends and what had become of them, I was delighted to see that Miller was not in jail, not lost and not in a shady import/export business out of south Texas ----

I caught up with him shortly thereafter and resumed a regular correspondence, sharing memories, books and adventures --- I had a note from him not a month ago.  He was talking about the transition to retirement and he thought being an independent scholar sounded good --- he was a scholar, he was independent, he was an original and he was always the best of friends --- I will miss him a great deal

Scott Williamson

03/10/17 07:41 AM #9    

Jim Rayburn

By David Reynolds...

John’s death has shocked and saddened us all. When his house had no heat one bitter winter, he stayed with me for a while. We wrestled and played nerf basketball to keep warm. He was the Best Man at both of my weddings! He was the most intelligent, exuberant, curious, imaginative, energetic and unique person within 100 miles of here. He also had his miseries. Here are a few fond recollections.

Everyone knows about the 140-year old Victorian / Greek Revival house he saved from demolition in 1978, moved twice, and preserved in the hills of west Austin. His relationship to the house was like that of Ahab and the whale. It was the most unique house I have ever seen.  He moved thousands of rocks, cleared invasive flora, and single-handedly created an acre of walls, trails, stairs, lights, native plants, and huge amounts of energy and imagination. Then he found the time to come over and stack rocks at my house.

John loved the outdoors. For years, he and I hiked every Sunday afternoon exploring the fringes of Austin and occasionally trespassing on private developments and nature preserves. He was in his element. On one such ramble, we discovered a limestone grotto pulsing with ferns, canyon trees, and running water. We never could agree whether to call it the Reynolds-Morris Grotto or the Morris-Reynolds Grotto. He could be stubborn. John fought to preserve that natural formation but suburban sprawl won out. He also won the respect and appreciation of his neighbors by fighting to control development and preserve nature trails in his own neighborhood. For several years we owned land together on Lick Creek, the type of Hill Country stream that excited his passions.

He loved adventure. Climbing in the snow in the La Plata Mountains of Colorado in 1983, I suffered terrible altitude sickness. Fever, chills, vomiting, etc. John crawled into my sleeping bag to keep me warm and thereby saved my butt.

His curiosity and enthusiasm were boundless. He was thrilled to visit another noted author in December on a Paisano Fellowship and revisit J. Frank Dobie’s old ranch on Barton Creek. He basked in the history, flora, and fauna of the place, and the noted authors who had stayed there. Back at my house an hour later he was excited to discover some obscure orchid growing out of one of my weed piles. He love learning.

Politically, John was a bit outspoken. He occasionally came to the Sensitive Mens’ brunch for the politics only to skip the Frisbee. He was just incredulous about the “alternative facts” now shaping our political discourse. The 2016 elections probably hastened his death. The last time I saw him aoutside the hospital was at the Women’s March on 1-20-17. His unique protest sign was mostly in Russian and he proudly wore combat clothes that still smelled of tear gas from an anti-war demonstration we attended in 1972. Just moments before he was wheeled into surgery, he was thrilled to learn that National Security Advisor Flynn had been forced to resign.  At least he won’t have to suffer through the next four years of political mayhem.

John just never slowed down. He drank deeply of everything life had to offer. There will never be another like him

David Reynolds

Thanks David

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