William Morrison

William Morrison

VOORHEESVILLE — William Morrison, a World War II veteran who had twin careers as a teacher and actor, died at home on Friday, Oct. 5, 2018. He was 95.

The second child of Euphemia and David Morrison, he was born in Girvan, Scotland on Sept. 28, 1923.  The family emigrated to the United States in 1927, and settled in Fairfield, Connecticut, close to the ocean and beaches he loved, and where he met his future wife, Lois Jane Schildhauer.

Mr. Morrison joined the United States Army in 1943, as a member of the elite skiing troops of the 10th Mountain Division. After training at Camp Hale in Colorado, he was sent overseas to combat the enemy in the mountains of Italy where he quickly rose to the rank of staff sergeant and served with distinction, earning the Bronze Star, the Purple Heart, and the Combat Infantryman Badge.

After the war, Mr. Morrison began college at the University of Connecticut, then transferred to the University of Denver, where he graduated Phi Beta Kappa and started his twin careers of education and amateur theater.

He taught elementary school in Portland, Oregon for two years before returning to the East Coast, where he considered himself extremely fortunate to find a fifth-grade teaching job at Slingerlands Elementary School in the Bethlehem School District, just one week before school started. He remained there until 1970, when he transitioned to the new middle school in the district as a sixth-grade teacher, after researching the concept of middle schools.

At that time, he was also a founding member of the New York State Middle School Association. He remained at the Bethlehem Middle School until retiring from full-time teaching in 1986.

Theater played a large role in Mr. Morrison’s life, beginning with a summer theater class in 1950. The Slingerlands Community Players, a highly regarded theater group that initially performed at Slingerlands School, then moved to the Bethlehem High School, drew him in early on, and he was extremely active with the group in the 1960s and ’70s as both an actor and a set designer.

Mr. Morrison remained active in theater productions in Bethlehem even after the community organization was disbanded, by working with the Bethlehem High School Theater program as the scenery advisor, mentoring students as they built the sets for their productions. He held this role up until last year.

Mr. Morrison was an active member of the Boy Scouts since he was 8 years old, except while serving in World War II. He first served as a scoutmaster while still in Fairfield. He served as a longtime scoutmaster of Cub Pack 73, and of Boy Scout Troop 73 in Voorheesville. He also held the Silver Beaver award.

The Heldeberg Workshop held Mr. Morrison’s interest for more than 45 years. He served the workshop as volunteer, teacher, and board member, and close to 20 of those years as chairman. As chairman, he was involved in most of the building projects undertaken by the Heldeberg Workshop.

A long-term supporter of the 10th Mountain Division National Association, Mr. Morrison was the president of the Upstate New York Chapter for a number of years, being involved in ceremonies at Fort Drum in upstate New York and at Whiteface Mountain.

He also enjoyed a long association with the Presbyterian Church in New Scotland in a number of roles, including singing in the choir.

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William Morrison is survived by his children, Dave (Astrid), Bruce, Malcolm (Margaret), Bonnie (Brendan), Heather (Jennifer), Robert (Janet), Duncan (Robert), and Stuart (Liesl); his grandchildren, Ian (Kim), Justin (Dana), Patrick, Conor, Alex, Katy, Casey, Braeden, and Lukas; and his great-grandchildren, Hunter, Skylar, Denver, Wyatt, and Lucy.

He is also survived by his brother, Edward, and his sisters, Jean and Catherine.

His wife, Lois, died before him, as did his sisters, Margaret and Flora, and his parents.

Relatives and friends may call at the Reilly and Son Funeral Home at 9 Voorheesville Ave. in Voorheesville on Friday, Oct. 12, from 4 to 7 p.m. Funeral services will be held at the Presbyterian Church in New Scotland at 2010 New Scotland Rd. in Slingerlands on Saturday, Oct. 13, at 1 p.m.

Memorial contributions may be made to the Wounded Warrior Project, Post Office Box 758517, Topeka, KS (or woundedwarriorproject.org); to the Presbyterian Church in New Scotland endowment fund, 2010 New Scotland Rd., Slingerlands, NY 12159; or to a charity of your own choosing.

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