Tree marker will honor advocate Dedication tomorrow remembers Stuart Morris for conservation efforts

April 17, 1996|By Andrea F. Siegel | Andrea F. Siegel,SUN STAFF

The Severn River Association is dedicating a tree in memory of Stuart Morris, the conservationist who died in 1994 and whose name had become synonymous with the powerful civic coalition.

The organization will place a marker at a newly planted dawn redwood on a knoll at the Tawes State Office Building in Annapolis, which houses the Department of Natural Resources, in a ceremony at 5 p.m. tomorrow.

The association donated the tree.

Mr. Morris, who was 63 and serving a third term as SRA president when he died at his Annapolis home after a three-week illness, was best remembered for county Republican activities and the environmental advocacy that propelled the SRA into a prominent role in county and state politics.

Among those scheduled to speak at the public ceremony is County Executive John G. Gary, a Republican.

The conservationist was known for speaking his mind, for making paper airplanes out of County Council bills he disliked and for his tightly held opinions that often led to confrontations.

"Stuart is sorely missed -- from the friendship standpoint and also because he was membership chairman," said James Martin, a former SRA president who often clashed with Mr. Morris politically.

In 1984, the coalition had barely 200 members. It now has nearly 120 member civic associations and about 640 individual members, among them some of the county's most influential politicians.

Mr. Morris, who had held just about every possible position in the SRA, planted trees, wrote newsletters, arranged for speakers, kept track of members and occasionally was the only person to show up for roadside cleanups -- among the least popular tasks the association attempted.

He was an avid gardener who shared seeds and stories of his unusual plants. The dawn redwood is a tree with a tale.

"Stuart always enjoyed things that were different," said Colby Rucker, grounds supervisor for the state complex in Annapolis and the SRA member who chose the tree.

The dawn redwood was known from fossil records and was believed to be extinct until found growing in a remote part of China some 50 years ago.

Pub Date: 4/17/96

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