Sunday, July 28, 2013

RIP Bill Morris (1920-2013): Founder of the Libertarian Party of Delaware

William E. "Bill" Morris
Founder of the LPD
William E. "Bill" Morris passed away on 25 July 2013, apparently from complications from pneumonia.

Bill was the founder of the Libertarian Party of Delaware in 1975, and stayed actively engaged in what he considered an ongoing battle for freedom until just a few months before his death.

Those of us who knew Bill will remember him first and foremost as a gentleman and a gentle man.  I cannot recall him ever speaking an intemperate word about another human being, though he could be merciless in arguing against what he considered stupid positions, laws, or policies.

Here's what I specifically recall about Bill from knowing him during the last decade of his life:

(1) When Bill ran for US Senate in 2004 he shared a debate stage in Dover with Tom Carper and whichever sacrificial Republican (some guy named Bill Roth) was up that year.  Carper, who never takes chances, ignored Bill through most of the debate, but then turned in the last few seconds and asked him how he felt about being the representative of a party that wanted to take all restrictions off of pornography.  Never missing a beat, Bill told him that he guessed he felt the same way that Carper did about representing a party born to support the institution of slavery.

(2) Bill was the person who got the Libertarian Party of Delaware to sponsor some DELDOT miles of clean-up along the highway.  Bill believed it not only gave the party some exposure, but that Libertarians couldn't be activists for a voluntary society without volunteering for society when the chance came up.

(3) Bill's passion during the last few years was arguing climate change.  Trained as a chemical engineer and having worked at Exxon and DuPont in petrochemicals, Bill felt that most of the research he was seeing was garbage, not based on sound science.  He would travel anywhere his health allowed at the drop of a hat to talk or debate about climate change.  (Again, however:  the gentleman.  He would mock an opponent's position, but he would never stoop to mocking an opponent.)

I'm sure that others, like Tom or Brad, have more memories of Bill, and I hope they will share them in the comments section.

At the 2012 State Convention of the Libertarian Party of Delaware, William E. Morris was honored with an award for the founding of the LPD and over 35 years of faithful advocacy for the cause of liberty.

I will miss Bill deeply; at the last New Castle County LPD meeting he was able to attend (earlier this year), I suspect that he finally felt that the years were catching up to him.  He took me out to his car after the meeting, gave me several books, and told me to keep getting more people involved.

"We can't ever quit," Bill said.

And he never did.


Margaret Melson said...

I am so sorry to hear of Bill's passing. He was a great man, and I hope he spends his eternity in peace and freedom.

Scott Gesty said...

I met Bill back in 2008 when I tried to enter the race for State Legislature after the Senate did it’s about face on the eminent domain bill. He was very open towards me and supportive of what I wanted to do. Although I couldn’t get on the ballot that year, Bill never stopped supporting me. I credit his mentoring in helping me to get to where I am in this movement. If it wasn’t for him, I may not be here.

As Steve mentioned, Bill was always the gentleman. But he was indeed passionate about the cause and certain issues in the liberty movement. Steve pointed out the climate change issue, but Bill was also a strong advocate of sound money. As one of the few people left that lived through the Great Depression as a teenager, he had a keen understanding of what the Federal Reserve is doing to our economy and the effect of fiat money on our lives and livelihoods. I remember distinctly him saying at a NCC LPD meeting in 2012 that; “We need to start scaring the hell out of people, they are destroying the money”

I last saw Bill about 3 ½ weeks ago when I took the LPD Adopt-a-Highway information of his hands. I told him about everything everyone was doing to promote liberty and freedom in the state. He had a smile a mile wide and told me; “The Party is in good hands”. And to be clear, he didn’t mean it was in good hands with me, he meant with ALL of you and EVERYTHING you are doing.

I pray for Bills wife and family in their time of loss. I will miss not being able to call Bill and ask questions or bounce ideas off him. I will miss seeing his smile and listening to his passion when talking about the LPD. He will be truly missed by me as well as anyone else he had the chance to touch.
Bill, may you rest peacefully with the Lord tonight and always. We who are still here will do our best to carry on the work you began nearly four decades ago. Thank you for all you have done. God bless you.

Scott Gesty

Steve Boone said...

I remember Bill from more than a dozen years back when, as a member of the MD Libertarian Party , I had the opportunity to meet him. I was greatly impressed by his stamina and devotion to the party. Once I actually moved to Delaware, I had the opportunity to see him again, and he was as sharp and dedicated as I had remembered, only a little more frail. Rest in peace, Bill. May we live to see your dreams of liberty fulfilled. God bless.

tom said...

Well Steve, I was going to write this article, or one much like it, but since you've beaten me to press, I guess I'll have to settle for re-posting it on the LPD site and adding a few comments.

I barely know where to begin... I was a college student almost 30 years ago when I first met Bill. He looked ancient and fragile back then, but I quickly realized that he was a tireless force of nature.

Even in this age of mobile phone directories and voice dialing where you seldom see or hear a phone number, I still remember Bill's -- just from hearing it on my answering machine so often in the 80's & 90's. He was constantly calling to get me to hand out literature at some event, or write letters, or protest something, or knock on doors for one of our candidates, or run for office, pick up trash on the highways, or whatever. And he wasn't just delegating -- even though he was 2-3 times my age, he put in the same long hours, and then some.

Like the Conk's, Dale Lewis, and John Reda, Bill will be sorely missed by Delaware's libertarians. I hope I'll be lucky enough to meet more people who are as dedicated to the cause of Liberty as Bill.

During the three decades I've known him, Bill has consistently advocated Peace, Sound Fiscal Policy (which he described as "Fairness to Future Generations"), and an end to our government's ongoing crimes against humanity that has been called the "War on Drugs" and now the "War on Terror".

In addition to founding the LPD, Bill also started SAFE (originaly known as Seniors Against Federal Extravagance) to give senior -citizens an alternative to the AARP's destructive policy of lobbying the government to steal from future generations for their benefit.

The LPD has grown a lot since the days when we used to meet in Bill's kitchen & dining room to today, when we are the verge of becoming a major force in Delaware politics. I only hope we do not lose that momentum now that Bill is no longer around to inspire us.

And Bill Morris was definitely an inspiration to me -- whenever I got tired, or frustrated by our percieved lack of success, I had only to look at Bill and realize that he had been fighting for Liberty for ten years longer than I have. And he never gave up.

Brad Thomas said...

Bill had the amazing ability to connect with anyone. He could explain libertarian concepts in a way that even those with no prior knowledge could understand. He was always looking for more ways to get the libertarian message out to more people.

tom said...

A few minor factual corrections:

Bill Morris ran for U.S. Rep in 2004 against Republican Incumbent Mike Castle, Democrat Paul Donnelly and the IPOD's Maurice Barros.

In 2006 he ran for U.S. Senate against Democratic Incumbent Tom Carper and Republican Jan Ting. (this is probably the election you were describing)

Senator Bill Roth was anything but a "sacrificial Republican". He was probably the last true conservative in Congress. Carper defeated him in 2000 w/ an insidious smear campaign implying the he was too old and senile to be reelected--a tactic the Republicans should have used on Carper in 2012 if they could have come up with a competent candidate to challenge him.

Bill Roth was one of four Senators who voted against the 1994 Biden Anti-Crime Bill which, among other things, created hundreds of unnecessary new federal death penalty offenses. He is also known for the law creating the retirement account known as the Roth IRA.

Tyler Nixon said...

Bill was truly kind, generous-hearted and public-spirited individual. I am very sad to hear of his passing. I will miss him as a friend and as an enduring force for liberty through all of his life, bringing reason and sanity to the discourse and politics of our troubled state.

Godspeed Bill...