John Selwyn Morris, 93, of Hamilton, NY, passed away in his sleep Saturday, May 4, 2019 at his home.
He was born July 2, 1925 in Tonapandy, Wales, a son of coal miner Jenkin Morris and Hannah M. (Williams) Morris. He received infant, primary, and grammar school education in Tonapandy before being drafted into the Royal Air Force in November 1943. He served as a radar mechanic in No. 48 Squadron attaining the rank of Leading Aircraftman, achieving City and Guilds certificates and serving in several stations including the UK and Chittagong and with No. 110 Squadron at Hong Kong before his discharge in 1947. In September of that year, he entered the University College of South Wales and Monmouthshire (Cardiff University) receiving his BA in 1951. He received his MA from Cambridge University Westminster Theological College in 1953 and was ordained Presbyterian Minister on April 1954. On April 10, 1954, John married Enid Eiry Walters in Ponteberem, Wales and they emigrated to the United States later that year. While serving as Pastor of the Vernon and Vernon Center Presbyterian churches, John became a part time instructor in Philosophy and Religion at Colgate University in Hamilton. In 1957, John received his MA from Colgate and, in 1961, his PhD from Columbia University. During his time at Colgate, from 1960 to 1979, he rose from Instructor to Colgate Professor of the Humanties and served as Assistant Dean of the Faculty, Division Director, Provost and Dean of Faculty as well as Acting President. He was deeply involved in many changes at Colgate including coeducation and the CORE and January programs. He took a sabbatical leave from 1968 to 1969 as a Leverhume Fellow at the University of Exeter in the UK. He served as President of Union College and Chancellor of Union University from 1979 until retiring in 1990. During his presidency he continued undergraduate teaching in philosophy and religion, decided that the SAT would be optional for admission to Union, and oversaw initiatives including the launch of a General Education curriculum, the re-establishment of the Geology department, and term abroad programs in China and Japan. From 1990 until 2000, he moderated Deans and Presidents Seminars for the Johnson Foundation Educational Leadership Program while serving as Pastor of San Augustine Presbyterian Church in Texas, then Interim President of New England College, and later as Interim President of Cazenovia College. He was the recipient of and Honorary Doctor of Laws, Hartwick College in 1979, Doctor of Humane Letters, Elmira College in 1990, and Honorary Doctor of Letters, Skidmore College In 1991. He served as a valued member of the Skidmore College Board of Trustees from 1986 until 2017. Most recently, he taught in the Lifelong Learning Program at Colgate and preached in an interim role in several Hamilton area churches. He delivered his last sermon, “The Last Words” on Easter 2019 at the First Baptist Church in Hamilton.
John was predeceased by his beloved wife, Enid on February 14, 2018. He is survived by a son and daughter-in-law, Paul John and Susan Feeney Morris of Harvard, MA.
A Memorial Service will be held at a later date and time to be announced.
Interment will be private in Colgate Cemetery.
Contributions in his memory may be made to the John S. Morris Memorial Fund at Colgate University.
Arrangements have been entrusted to Burgess & Tedesco Funeral Home, 25 Broad St., Hamilton, NY.