Abraham `Al' Morrison, 83, veteran and TV repairman

March 10, 2006|By FREDERICK N. RASMUSSEN | FREDERICK N. RASMUSSEN,SUN REPORTER

Abraham "Al" Morrison, a World War II artilleryman who participated in the D-day invasion of France, helped liberate the Buchenwald concentration camp and was active with the Jewish War Veterans, died of cancer Monday at Gilchrist Center for Hospice Care. The longtime Lochearn resident was 83.

Born in Baltimore and raised on Collington Avenue, Mr. Morrison cut short his public school education to help support his family.

After enlisting in the Army in 1940, he trained as a paratrooper. Later assigned to the 559th Field Artillery, he landed on Omaha Beach on June 6, 1944. He later fought at Bastogne and in the Ardennes campaign, and was a witness to the horrors of the Buchenwald slave labor camp, which was liberated by the U.S. 3rd Army in early April 1945.

"He said they had no idea what they had come across, and when they got inside they saw bodies piled 30 feet high," said Steve Leven, a son-in-law. "The inmates didn't know what was going on and were afraid. However, he was able to speak to them in Yiddish and tell them they were being liberated by the United States Army."

"He kept his wartime experience to himself for many years and only began talking about them recently," Mr. Leven said.

Several years ago, Mr. Morrison recorded his story of the liberation of Buchenwald for movie director Steven Spielberg's Shoah Project.

After the war, Mr. Morrison returned to Baltimore and drove a taxi while studying television repair on the GI Bill. He established Almo TV on Park Circle in the early 1950s and during the 1960s owned and operated Relay Electronics on Broadway. After selling the business in 1973, he worked part time for the now-closed Valley TV in Owings Mills.

Mr. Morrison was an active member of Jewish War Veterans Lieberman-Feinstein Post, now Roger C. Snyder Post 117, for nearly 60 years.

"Al was probably one of the most reliable and efficient workers with the organization. He had both enthusiasm and pride, and whenever we needed something done, he was there to do it," said Erwin A. Burtnick, a retired Army colonel and Jewish War Veterans member. "He was a person who cared deeply for his fellow man."

Mr. Morrison spearheaded a graves registration program for Jewish veterans and developed a flag holder that could be permanently affixed to graves of veterans in area Jewish cemeteries. He was a member of a six-man committee that established and installed a U.S. flag and memorial to Jewish veterans in 1990 at the Jewish Community Center in Owings Mills.

Mr. Morrison was a constant visitor to patients at the Veterans Affairs Medical Center at Fort Howard and Baltimore.

"Al had his fingers in everything and was my right-hand man. He cooked breakfasts for Jewish War Veterans functions and at various synagogues. He did it all, and we're going to miss him," said Mark A. Mentz, a Vietnam veteran and former post commander.

Mr. Morrison also helped make medical equipment available and free to Jewish veterans and needy people in the community.

"His entire basement was full of wheelchairs, portable toilets and walkers," Mr. Leven said.

In addition to his work with veterans, Mr. Morrison put in more than 2,800 volunteer hours with the Chimes in Mount Washington.

"His hobby was helping people. That's what he wanted to do," said a daughter, Toby Leven of Randallstown.

Services were Wednesday.

Also surviving are his wife of 60 years, the former Ann Doris Leavey; another daughter, Audrey Morrison of Cincinnati; two brothers, Sidney Morrison of Pikesville and Israel Morrison of Owings Mills; a sister, Lena Rubin of Pikesville; and three grandchildren.

fred.rasmussen@baltsun.com

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