Mark Steven Morris

February 10th, 2018 | Posted by curryfuneralhome in Obituaries

Mark Steven Morris, 64, of Alum Creek went home Thursday, February 8, 2017.

He was a 1971 graduate of Duval High School.

Mark worked as  a heavy equipment operater in the coal mining industry, he was a former member of the Operating Engineers and the UMWA and also served in the Army National Guard.

Mark was preceded in death by his parents, Rev. Eugene P. and Anna Carr Morris.

He is survived by siblings, Eugene P. (JoAnn) Morris, Peggy Ann (Kenneth) Stevens and John (Rhonda) Morris; nieces and nephews, Chris Morris, Vanessa (Mark) Jarrell, Tiffany Morris, Gina “Hunter Storm” Morris, Matthew Morris, Douglas Shane McCormick, Chad (Rachel) McCormick and Brent McCormick; great nephew, Douglas Jamie McCormick.

A graveside service will be 12:00 noon Thursday, February 22, 2018 at Forks of Coal Cemetery Alum Creek with Pastor Frank Chapman officiating.


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3 Responses

  • Gina Morris says:

    Hoof Beats in Heaven: A Eulogy for My Uncle Mark Morris
    © 2018 Gina Morris (Hunter Storm) All rights reserved.

    God must have needed a cowboy, strong, silent, and good with horses…because he took my Uncle Mark Morris, home sometime within the past few days. My Dad and a neighbor found him at his home…the doctor’s office had called to let Dad know Uncle Mark had come in with the flu, but refused an ambulance to the hospital. Since they had not seen him, they contacted Dad to do a welfare check.

    Uncle Mark’s passing, although sad, was an inspiration to write some happy and funny memories about him, just as I did about both of my grandmothers. My goal is to later write something about each of you while you are here to read it.

    Unfortunately, most people tend to remember my uncle in his later years. They only saw what time, the pain of loss, and a decades-long fight with a debilitating illness had done to him. Hope you enjoy this view of him seen through the lens of “kindsight.” Although these stories are about my personal interactions with Uncle Mark, please don’t misinterpret that as narcissism. Instead, it’s the best way I know how to reflect his original character back to you—through the mirror of myself.

    I will always remember Uncle Mark as an older brother who seemed like a second father to me. Mark was one of my Dad’s younger brothers, only in his teens when I was born. Since he was home with Grandma Morris, I got to visit with him a lot. He was so patient and kind, treating me just like I was his own daughter.

    Mark had an 18 year old black pony, Scar, that had been his steed when he was a child. Scar’s hooves had grown out so far that he couldn’t run anymore, so he was a very docile animal. No one rode him because he was too old and sway-backed, so he spent his days feasting on the shamrock-green grass, molasses-covered grains, and sweet timothy hay Mark fed him. When I turned 4, Uncle Mark brought Scar to our house one day. I’d never seen Scar outside a pasture or the barn, but this time…Scar was wearing a saddle and bridle! Uncle Mark put me up on Scar’s back, then Mark and Dad adjusted the stirrups so I could get my feet into them properly. Then, Uncle Mark spent hours leading Scar around, teaching me how to hold the reins in a way that wouldn’t hurt Scar’s mouth, how to sit in the saddle, and how not to spook him. Finally, he taught me how to get out of the saddle; and then, how to pull Scar up to a fence and use it to climb into the saddle on my own.

    Since Uncle Mark lived at Grandma Morris’ house, that meant I got to see him almost as often as I saw her. He spent hours patiently sitting with me on Grandma’s worn, orange couch, reading the giant Sears and Roebucks catalogue. He would point to each saddle, bridle, halter, horse blanket, or other horse accessory, unwearyingly answering my endless questions, “What’s that?” and “Why do they need that?” He would ask which one I wanted to get someday, even offering to buy a carriage or a cart. I didn’t like that idea, though, and told him, “Horses don’t want to pull those! They like people on their backs so we can hug them!” He just laughed. I always loved to hear his laughter and see that sweet smile. It came straight from the heart and touched everyone else’s hearts, too. He was so quiet and introverted, he didn’t talk much to most people, so that laughter was a true gift.

    Not long after this, Uncle Mark joined the Army. He kept his Kelly green canvas duffle bag next to the door, right next to his rifle, boxes of ammunition, and a light green marbled fiberglass bow with a quiver of arrows. Before you judge my family for the unlocked weaponry, remember that in the wilderness of West Virginia, kids are taught from birth about gun safety, which is why you “don’t never see no hillbilly yung’uns runnin’ around shootin’ ’emselves” on the news. Heck, my Grandma Harless had a loaded revolver in the butcher knife drawer that I used to practice loading and unloading on her kitchen table, after Grandpa Harless taught me how when I was 3 or 4 years old. Familiarity can breed respect, but I digress. When Uncle Mark came home from leave, I always hated it when he had to go back. On one of those occasions, I unpacked his duffle bag and put all his clothes back in his drawers, right where they went. Black, rolled socks in this drawer; white Hanes t-shirts in that drawer, folded up just so. I’m sure he was annoyed that he had to repack everything, but I think he was tickled that I didn’t want him to leave.

    I pestered him incessantly to shoot that bow and arrow. When he finally got out of the Army, that was when he began teaching me how. Later, he gave me that bow and arrows as a gift.

    Speaking of gifts, Uncle Mark was a very generous man to those he loved. I will never forget one Christmas when I was about 7. He gave me a huge box and a shy smile, saying, “This is so you grow up smart.” When I ripped off that red reindeer paper, I could not believe my eyes! There was a whole science kit inside, complete with a microscope, glass slides, chemicals, Pyrex test tubes, a preserved frog, and even a real scalpel to dissect it! That may seem like nothing to you today, but when I was that age, it was a huge deal. Little girls were not encouraged to do anything other than become housewives and mothers, especially “up the holler” in West-by-God-Virginia. That science kit wasn’t the end of the encouragement, though. He followed that up the next year with a cobalt blue plastic skateboard. Nobody knew about helmets back then, though, so that probably explains a lot.

    Uncle Mark was one of the many people in my family who encouraged people to be themselves…Probably because he was going to be himself whether you liked it or not. I loved it!

    Not long after the Science Kit Christmas, Uncle Mark brought home a huge, champagne-colored Tennessee Walker (Walking Horse) named Cindy. He bought both the Western and the English saddle and bridle sets that we had picked out years ago from the Sears catalogue. It was quite a trick to get Cindy to take that snaffle bit from the English set, as well as to get used to the way it flexed, but Uncle Mark was patient. Pretty soon, I was riding around on that 17-hand mare while he was at work, switching out between English and Western riding styles and gear. On the weekends, we spent time at the barn while I learned how to take care of the riding tack, wash Cindy, and determine how much she needed to eat and drink.

    One day, Uncle Mark came home with something new. It was a set of tools and 4 horseshoes! Apparently, he had been taking lessons from a farrier who lived hours away, and was now ready to teach me the craft. We spent many happy hours while he taught me how to pick up Cindy’s hoof, pick out any rocks around the frog of the hoof, and gently file it the right way so it wouldn’t crack or hit the quick. The best part came last! He showed me how to hold Cindy’s hoof without spooking her; how to check, measure, and set the shoe; then gently pound the nails into her hoof at just the right angle so they would protect instead of hurt her. This was dangerous work for an 8 year old girl, though. Getting stepped on by a 1200 pound horse while wearing sneakers will get your undivided attention! Even when that happened, Uncle Mark carefully checked my foot, made sure I was ok, then continued on with the lessons. He taught me more than how to be a farrier that day. With few words and great strength of character, he led the way to a lifetime of patience and good craftsmanship. Most importantly, he showed me the best way to treat animals (and people) when they unknowingly hurt you: with kindness and a firm grip on the hammer and the hoof!

    Uncle Mark’s later years were different after Grandma Morris passed away and he was left alone. This really broke his heart and brought out a different side of him that none of us had ever seen, and had a very hard time handling. On the bright side, though, his troubled final years made for some great stories! I’ll leave you with this final funny tale to light your way. After having crashed multiple cars, Uncle Mark had only one way to get to town. One day, he called Dad to take him to pick up his vehicle. Apparently, Mark had been pulled over by the West Virginia State Police for driving his green John Deere riding lawnmower on the Interstate!

    That rebel spirit was alive and well in Uncle Mark; guess it must run in the family.

    In honor of my Uncle Mark, please take a listen to George Jones “Honky Tonk Song:” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h2OA1ldr8H4. NOTE: Uncle Mark was a teetotaler and did not drink alcohol, smoke, or do drugs. Just thought the song was a funny tribute to him—I hope this makes him smile in Heaven.

    • Paula Spaulding Marshall says:

      Gina – that was a lovely story and remembrance to Mark. I mostly knew him back in the late 70 – 80’s through Roger and Connie Kuhn. He was such a funny person and a good person. He never failed to help anyone if they needed it.

      I lost contact after years like most people tend to do so I wasn’t around when he was going through his rough time. I just wanted to respond to your post because it was such a great story in remembrance of him and I think it was great of you to share your story.

      Prayers for your family.?

      • Gina Morris says:

        Thank you so much, Paula. Really appreciate your kind words. Glad you enjoyed those memories…Uncle Mark was a huge influence in my life. The family and I thank you so much for your prayers! Hugs and love to you and yours.

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