Steven “Skipper Steve” Ross Morris
Steven "Skipper Steve" Ross Morris, of Post Falls, Idaho, passed away at Kootenai Health's hospital in Coeur d'Alene, Idaho, on Sunday evening, February 20, 2022. Steve was being visited and comforted by family members in the hospital and over the phone at his passing. He was 73 years old.
Steve was born in Grand Junction, Colorado, on July 19, 1948. He was the only child of Dale W. "Spider" Morris and Wilberta Lee Willis.
Steve spent his early childhood in Grand Junction, Colorado, then moved to Sacramento, California, when he was nine years old. He went on his first sail with some family friends in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta. He loved reading, especially Donald Duck and Uncle Scrooge comic books by Carl Barks. Steve attended Mira Loma High School, graduating in 1966, where he developed his lifelong love for music, playing tenor saxophone in the high school band.
He attended Brigham Young University (BYU) from 1966 to 1972, earning his Bachelor of Fine Arts in Communications degree. Steve served a mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints during his college years in Palmyra, New York, helping support the Hill Cumorah Pageant. He also developed and syndicated a faith-based radio program broadcasted from various stations in the area during his mission. He spoke fondly about adventure-filled weekends catching freight trains with his friends during college.
After college, he moved to Seattle, where his dad, Dale Morris, paid for Steve’s sailing lessons, catalyzing his lifelong obsession with the sport. As his sailing skills developed, Steve took Dale and his stepmother, Connie “Dinka” aboard for sailing adventures. Dinka was a loving devoted stepmom, whom Steve regarded as a mother. She is devastated by Steve’s passing and will make a difficult trip to attend the service.
Steve married LaVerne Lucille Hanson on February 8, 1974. The couple later divorced in 1980. Steve and LaVerne had two children, Julie Ann Morris (Davis) and Craig Steven Morris, during their marriage. Steve's entire career was in the nonprofit field, starting in 1974 when he got his first job raising money for the March of Dimes in Western Washington. He then worked for Cardio-Pulmonary Research in Seattle before moving to Utah to work for the American Lung Association in Salt Lake City.
Steve married Carla Mittelstadt on November 12, 1981. The couple later divorced in 2006. Steve and Carla had three children, Brittany Anne Morris, Sterling Ross Morris, and Allison Jean Morris, during their marriage.
He earned a master's degree in Public Administration from BYU from 1983 to 1985 while leading fundraising efforts for the March of Dimes in a 9-state region including Utah. His family moved to Logan for his next role as Director of the Cache Valley Health Care Foundation (now the Intermountain Foundation at Logan Regional Hospital). In 1992, he began working for Utah State University (USU), serving as the Director for Corporations & Foundations in 1999 in Logan, Utah. He raised money to fund USU's Eccles Science Learning Center and the Emma Eccles Jones education buildings.
While working for USU, his family moved to Springville, Utah. He would commute the two-and-a-half-hour drive from Springville to Logan on Mondays, work the week in Cache Valley, then commute home on Fridays. Despite the 133 miles between his Logan apartment and Springville home, he was committed to being present at as many of his children's events as possible, often commuting mid-work week to attend.
He began raising money for LDS Philanthropies in support of his alma mater, BYU, as the director of foundation relations in 1999. He continued his role until he retired in 2013. During his time in that role, he raised funds for the Royden G. Derrick Planetarium, the Gordon B. Hinckley Alumni and Visitors Center, and many endowed scholarships to support students in the BYU McKay School of Education and the BYU College of Humanities. He was a BYU baseball fan and helped raise funds to support Miller Park, its scoreboard, and funding to allow fans to keep the foul balls they catch during games.
He started the USU and BYU Sailing clubs at each university and invested time and energy supporting college students interested in the sport. In addition, Steve taught sailing classes at BYU in the spring and summer. He merged the BYU Sailing Club with the Utah Lake Yacht Club in 2009 and helped organize and volunteer for the Boy Scouts of America Sea Scout S.S.S. Neptune unit.
Steve married Linda Loreida "Lori" Bond on September 16, 2009. After retiring, Steve and Lori moved to Coeur d'Alene, Idaho, where they enjoyed their retirement together. He was often found sailing Esprit de Coeur, his Erickson 27' on Lake Coeur d’Alene. He and Lori grew their family's nautical chart wallpaper business during retirement, helping households and businesses all over the country install maps of their favorite nautical passageways.
Throughout his life, Steve was quick-witted, enjoyed making people laugh, and loved to listen to 1960s-era music. He enjoyed giving people nicknames, and many called him Skipper Steve. He appreciated seeing patterns in numbers and would have been happy to know his death was on the memorable date of 02/20/2022.
He was diagnosed with prostate cancer in 2016. However, he maintained a positive attitude throughout his battle with the disease. He continued to enjoy an active retirement full of reading, spending time with loved ones, and watching or listening to every Seattle Mariners' baseball game. He frequently expressed gratitude for his life, love for his family, and a general sense of wonder for the world. He made sure all who visited him felt welcome.
The words of Joe Banks in Steve's favorite movie, Joe Versus the Volcano, are the essence of the gratitude we heard him frequently express during his final years: "Dear God, whose name I do not know – thank you for my life."
Steve was preceded in death by his father, Dale W. "Spider" Morris, his mother, Wilberta Willis, and his stepson, David Brent Bennion.
Steve will be missed by his wife, Linda Loreida "Lori" Morris of Post Falls, ID, stepdaughter Debbie (Brian) Major, daughter Julie Ann (Brent) Davis, son Craig Steven (Danielle) Morris, stepdaughter Sarah “Buffy” (Greg “G.T.”) Farley, daughter Brittany Anne (Rainer) Bless, son Sterling Ross (Kendra Anne) Morris, daughter Allison Jean Morris, his stepmother Connie “Dinka” Morris and her husband Jerry Johnson, and Steve’s 12 grandchildren and step-grandchildren.
The family will hold memorial services in Steve's honor on Tuesday, March 1, at Bell Tower Funeral Home located at 3398 E Jenalan Ave, Post Falls, Idaho. The memorial service will begin at noon.
Steve will be laid to rest following the services in Pinegrove Cemetery, 6693 ID-53, Rathdrum, Idaho.
The family would like to thank the skilled and compassionate healthcare teams who provided care to Steve over the years. Thank you, Doug Duncan, PA-C, with Prairie Family Medicine, for your many years of support. Thank you to Dr. Carolyn S. Aks, MD, and the other physicians and caregivers at Summit Cancer Centers for your caring approach to your work. And thank you to the skilled caregivers in Kootenai Health's emergency department.
Please consider making a memorial gift to the Disabled American Veterans organization in place of flowers. Also, visit belltowerfuneralhome.com to comment on Steve's tribute wall.
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