Monday, September 11, 2006

Extraordinary

Remembering Seth A. Morris -
Five years after that horrid day, we grasp at words to somehow continue to struggle with our shock and disbelief. Words are not sufficient band-aides for the hearts of the Morris family, but one word comes to mind in learning about the life of Seth Morris - extraordinary. Seth didn't have a calling that set him apart from the rest of us like a pro athlete, astronaut, or Supreme Court justice. And though accomplished and successful, his achievements were not so much greater than all others that society heaped him with honor and fame. Seth's life was extraordinary because he understood the tremendous value of each moment of each day, and he worked so very hard to wring the joy and love from each day's moments. He did so by placing the needs of his family, friends, and strangers he came in contact with above his own. In doing so, Seth lived an extraordinary life. Here are some of the things said about Seth shortly after 9/11.

All His Waking Hours

Seth Morris didn't sleep.

Well, he didn't sleep much. Four hours a night was it. His wife, Lynn, preferred eight, so while she and the three children were still in bed, he would be up doing projects.

Five years ago, the Morrises had bought a house, and he undertook renovations during the early morning hours. Mrs. Morris would wake and find that a room had been painted. New bathroom fixtures had been installed. The dining room molding had been done.

He would pay bills in the middle of the night. Once, he sent an e-mail message to his great-grandmother at 2:30 in the morning.

He knew all the 24-hour businesses. On weekends, he would visit a 24-hour bagel shop and have bagels ready when everyone else awoke. He often did his shopping at Home Depot at 2 in the morning. He knew the clerk on duty on a first-name basis.

Having extra hours meant a lot to Mr. Morris, 35, a managing director at Cantor Fitzgerald. "He would actually calculate how many more hours and days and years of living he was going to have than I was," Mrs. Morris said. "The last time he did it, he said he was going to have five extra years."

His skimpy amount of sleep became a running joke. The children began to imitate his sleep patterns. They'd get up at 3 in the morning, and when Mrs. Morris complained, they'd say, "Well, Daddy's up."

Mrs. Morris would tell her husband, "You need to get more normal sleep patterns." He would reply, "You can sleep when you're dead."

Profile published in THE NEW YORK TIMES on October 29, 2001.

Active Father Focused on Family

Oct. 29, 2001

Seth Morris slept just four hours a night.

He pumped weights at 4 a.m., telling his kids that "the world's strongest man" needed to exercise his muscles.

While his family and neighbors slept, Morris planted trees and laid out flower beds. He remodeled rooms in his Kinnelon, N.J., home.

"I would wake up every morning," wife Lynn said, "and see what kind of surprises he had."

Morris, 35, worked as a managing director at Cantor Fitzgerald on the 105th floor of the North Tower. He joined the firm 14 years ago after graduating with an education degree from Southern Connecticut State University in New Haven.

Morris met Lynn in college. They had three children -- Madilynn, 10, Kyle, 8, and Hayley, 5.

Morris spent weekends and afternoons biking and roller-blading with his children. He coached the local rec hockey team. He often acted more like a best friend to his children, Lynn said, than a father.

"Sometimes I think he played with them so much," Lynn said, "because somehow he knew he wouldn't be here."

--Fred Carroll (Daily Press)

*******
Seth Morris carried a pregnant woman to safety after a bomb exploded in 1993 at the World Trade Center. "“He put a wet handkerchief on her mouth so she and her unborn baby would not breathe in any smoke," said his sister-in-law, Joanne Mooney. "“That was the kind of guy he was." But when terrorists attacked the buildings Sept. 11, Morris, who was managing director at CantorFitzgerald, was among those lost. "“He has the biggest heart of anyone I knew", Mooney said. "“He went out of his way for everyone and anyone."

--The Associated Press

Seth Morris, 35, hero of '93 WTC blast

In 1993, Seth Morris -- so muscular and physically fit that his sister-in-law, Joanne Mooney, likened him to "The Hulk" -- carried a pregnant woman on his back from the 103rd floor of the World Trade Center to the ground floor after a bomb exploded in an underground parking garage, killing six and injuring more than 1,000.

"He put a wet handkerchief on her mouth so she and her unborn baby would not breathe in any smoke," Mooney said. "That was the kind of guy he was. The woman called several days ago and said how sad she was to hear the news about Seth and how much she appreciated what he did for her. She said she wouldn't be here without Seth."

Mr. Morris, 35, managing director for Cantor Fitzgerald, a brokerage firm, was among those working on the 105th floor of the North Tower when a hijacked plane crashed into the building last Tuesday. He lived in the Smoke Rise section of Kinnelon.

"He had the biggest heart of anyone I knew," Mooney said. "He went out of his way for everyone and anyone. No one was like Seth."

When he heard a colleague was about to be laid off at Cantor Fitzgerald, Mr. Morris walked into his boss' office and offered part of his year-end bonus so the colleague could be kept on, Mooney said.

Mr. Morris was a restless, tireless dynamo, the kind of person who would get up at 4 in the morning -- seven days a week -- to get his exercise in. His weightlifting equipment was stored in a section of his basement he called "The Morris Muscle Factory," his sister-in-law said.

"He'd say, 'I'm going down to the Morris Muscle Factory, going to get pumped up,' " Mooney said, laughing.

When he wasn't exercising, it seemed, he was remodeling his house -- or someone else's. Once, he knocked on his sister-in-law's door at the crack of dawn and informed her he was there to work on her picture window.

"And he had already been to Home Depot," Mooney recalled.

Mr. Morris also found time to coach his son's roller hockey team, the Penguins, and his daughter's softball team. A hockey player in college, Mr. Morris played in the Morristown Roller Hockey League.

Among the children Mr. Morris coached was Nicholas Scorzo, the 7-year-old son of Bob Scorzo, vice chairman of the Kinnelon Recreation Commission. Before the Scorzo family went on vacation last month, Nicholas sent Mr. Morris a card saying he was "the greatest coach ever."

"He enjoyed coaching the kids as much as they enjoyed having him as a coach," Bob Scorzo said.

Mooney described her brother-in-law as "extremely bright, a genius with numbers . . . he knew his credit card numbers, everyone's Social Security numbers. The kids would throw out these random numbers, and he would add, subtract and divide them.

"He never got moody or grumpy," she said. "I'd tell him, 'Be grumpy every once in a while.' He couldn't."

When the Morris family spent a week on Long Beach Island at the end of August, Mr. Morris' son, Kyle, turned to Mooney, his aunt, and said, "You know, my dad is my best friend in the world. He's my hero."

Mr. Morris is survived by his wife, Lynn Bailey; two daughters, Madilynn and Hayley; a son, Kyle; his parents, John and Barbara Morris of King George, Va.; two brothers, James of Fredericksburg, Va., and John of West Grove, Pa.

Mr. Morris' brothers are firemen; their father is a retired firefighter. James Morris was among the firefighters called to the scene after the attack on the Pentagon.


2 comments:

Chuck aka Tully Mars said...

Great post! Seth's brother John is a friend of mine and an equally fine guy. Mr & Mrs Morris should be proud of the great children they raised.

I am glad you did such a great job remembering his life.

Lane said...

Thanks for your kind words. Please pass along my thoughts and prayers to Seth's family.