Thornton Benson Morris ’45

MorrisThornton Benson “Ted” Morris, 86, died peacefully in his sleep on March 20, 2014, in Pittsboro, NC. The cause of death was Alzheimer’s Disease.

The eldest of three children, Ted was born on February 6, 1928 in Plainfield, NJ to Elizabeth Jenkins Morris and Herbert Leroy Morris. Valedictorian of his Williston Academy class in 1945, he went on to receive a BA in Economics from Princeton University in 1953, having completed his college education in three sessions, scheduled around his service as Chief Petty Officer in the Navy from 1946-48 and 1952.

He married Frances Rosalie Van Dyke in 1951 and they had two children, Todd Robertson Morris and Leigh Haviland Morris. A dedicated banker, Ted was Assistant Treasurer at Morgan Guaranty Trust Company in New York, NY and Senior Vice President at Branch Bank & Trust in Raleigh, NC before settling with his family in Simsbury, CT, where he presided as President and CEO of Simsbury Bank & Trust Co. from 1964 to 1987 and then became a Founding Member and Chairman of the Executive Committee of First Connecticut Bancorp, Inc. Ted also served as President of the Connecticut Bankers Association, State Vice President of the American Bankers Association and President and Founding Member of the Yankee 24 ATM Network.

His commitment to banking was matched only by his commitment to service in his community, serving as Trustee to the Peace College Foundation and the Hartford Foundation for Public Giving, Chairman of the Simsbury Housing Authority, President and Treasurer of the Simsbury Free Library, Vice President and Treasurer of the Ensign-Bickford Foundation and Trustee and Chairman of the Board of Finance of First Church of Christ, Simsbury, CT.

Retirement in 1987 and his love of sailing, the sea, and distilling beach plum brandy brought Ted and his wife, Rosalie, back to Brewster, MA, where his family had long spent their summers. For Ted, the joy of retirement was the opportunity to more fully explore his talents as a Jack-of-all-trades. He loved fixing clocks, woodworking, home repair of all kinds, and locksmithing (he held a diploma which he had earned by mail in 1975), as well as discussing philosophy and religion, which had been his minors at Princeton. He considered opening a business called “Locks and Clocks,” but finally determined that it would interfere too much with the international travel he and Rosalie enjoyed, so instead he turned his many talents once again to public service and took on the task of making repairs to donations at the Cape Cod Council of Churches Service Center, where he also worked with the food bank and spent nights overseeing the homeless shelter. During those years on the Cape, he also served as Director of the Cape Cod Red Cross, Trustee and Financial Committee member of the First Congregational Church of Harwich, and Member of the Board of the Cape Cod Housing Authority.

In 2006, Ted and Rosalie moved to Galloway Ridge, in Pittsboro, NC, where his many friends, as well as the staff, enjoyed his celebrated, quick wit and dry sense of humor. Throughout his battle with Alzheimer’s, he never lost that sense of humor, frequently astonishing those around him with his unexpected “zingers.”

His brother, Robert Jenkins Morris and his son, Todd Robertson Morris, predecease Ted. He is survived by his wife of 63 years, Rosalie Morris, his daughter Leigh Haviland Morris and her partner Lynn Denise Seagroves of Durham, NC, his grandchildren, Steven Cameron Morris and Kevin Alexander Morris of League City, TX, his sister, Janet Mitchell of Aiken, SC, his devoted, rescued English cocker spaniel, Annie, and numerous nieces and nephews and great nieces and great nephews, who will all miss their irreplaceable Uncle Thornton immensely.

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