Remembering a River's Guardian

November 03, 1994

Stuart G. Morris was an evangelist for nature. Whether he was summoning neighbors to his yard to watch his evening primroses bloom or presiding over Anne Arundel County's largest environmental and civic coalition, he constantly was preaching on behalf of the beauty around us. When the East Pendennis Mount resident died unexpectedly last week at the age of 63, he left many converts.

Mr. Morris was a natural-born salesman who applied his talents to boosting the membership of the Severn River Association, one of the oldest organizations in America dedicated to the preservation of a river.

When he began attending the group's meetings in 1984, there were barely 200 members. He would survey the audience and hone in on those not yet members and ask them to join. He recruited politicians and community leaders until the membership roster read like a county Who's Who.

Today, there are 640 individual members and 116 civic associations in the Severn River Association. Along with an increase in membership came an increase in the organization's political power. The association succeeded in having the Severn named a scenic river and in lobbying for the creation of a trust to preserve land in the river's watershed.

Throughout the years, Mr. Morris held practically every office within the association. He was elected president three times, he published the association's newsletter and found the monthly speakers.

He was also responsible for the creation of a scholarship for students to study conservation at Anne Arundel Community College.

He believed one should do something for the Severn River every day and he regularly participated in the association's hikes and tree plantings. Sometimes, he would be the only person to turn out for road cleanups, but he went on alone, picking up trash, restoring beauty.

He was active in the county's Republican Party, applying the same enthusiasm for voter registration drives as roadside cleanups. He was an avid gardener, who used to bring columbine seeds to association meetings to hand out to members and guests.

To Stuart Morris, beauty was something to share, and he found many ways to share it with us all.

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