Ron was born on January 7, 1934 and reborn on the same day in 2020 when he left this earth and joined his heavenly family. He was known by many names and nicknames during his lifetime- Dad, Ron, Ronnie, Podz, Rev, Reverend, Rabbi (teacher) and even Vicar. Whatever the name it was his energy, charisma, love of people and servant's heart that were always there in abundance.
He was born in Henryetta, Oklahoma but moved to Shawnee, Oklahoma prior to high school. At Shawnee he lettered in three sports. As the Senior quarterback he led his high school football team to the State Championship in their division. Although he was offered football and basketball scholarships to several universities he had already decided on his life's calling- that of a Methodist minister. SMU. A perfect fit!
As a varsity basketball player Ron was a member of 3 Southwest Conference Championship teams. In 1956 SMU played in what is now known as the Final Four, losing to Bill Russell's San Francisco team in the semi-finals. Several friends from that team are still friends today.
SMU's Perkins Seminary provided Ron with the opportunity to serve on the staff of First Methodist Church in downtown Dallas. In 1961 he was given his first church. At the age of 27 he was sent to Oklahoma City, charged with opening a new church in northwest Oklahoma City. He worked tirelessly calling on every household in the surrounding community and his energy paid great dividends. The church that started in a YMCA became the fastest growing Methodist Church in Oklahoma. Ron was named the Outstanding Young Man in the state of Oklahoma. That church- Chapel Hill- celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2011 and Ron preached the sermon for the celebration.
In 1965 he had the opportunity to combine two passions- love of God and the transforming power of sports in the lives of young athletes. He accepted a position with the Fellowship of Christian Athletes at their Kansas City Headquarters. There he initiated junior high huddle groups, ran Summer Camps and served as program director and director of Development. In Kansas City, Ron met and married Sandra James, a marriage that lasted until her death in 2005.
In 1986 Ron and Sandy relocated to Houston and he eventually returned to the ministry at St. Luke's United Methodist Church. He assumed the role of teacher for the Good Will Class. Belief and life lessons taught with reverence, a sense of humor and occasionally in costume led that class to be one of the largest Sunday Schools classes in the Methodist Church. Held in the Rotunda it was often SRO with over 250 attendees. His puns were (groan) legendary and the "fax"- later Emails of the week were a humorous start to what was always a deeply personal lesson.
Retirement from St. Luke's sent Ron and Sandy on a new adventure when he took the assignment to pastor three small churches in the Shipley-Leeds area in England. Small congregations and aging churches presented a new challenge.
With little money available from the members he decided to raise money from his many friends at home by getting pledges to run the London Marathon. And he did just that.... Through the generosity of his friends "back home" he raised enough to replace the aging heating systems, windows and infrastructures in all three churches. He also installed lighting on the exterior of the Craig's Road church. Those lights today are a constant reminder of his love and support.
A return to Houston brought another opportunity. He joined the staff at Houston's St. Martin's Episcopal church as an advisor for stewardship.He also began a Sunday School class for Senior adults- the Seekers. That class provided a Sunday school home and a source of friendship to many. He retired from that position in 2013.
The onset of Alzheimer's led to the curtailment of his activities but not his wit. While attending Amazing Place, Sheltering Arms and the Gathering he was always the one asked to give the prayer and everyone was amazed that his prayers suited the occasion perfectly.
He was preceded in death by his parents, Walter and Dolly Gaye Morris, brother Walter Morris, Jr., his wife Sandra James Morris, and two very close cousins- Gaye Land and Betty Land Gaines.
He is survived by his wife Gretchen Johnson-Morris, daughter Karen Elizabeth Morris, four step children: daughters- Kirsten Kenney-husband Bob Dillon; Karen Kenney-husband Mike Rakes; Amy Thompson-husband Mike Thompson; Step-son Derek Johnson-wife Sara and two grandsons- Graham and Connor Johnson He leaves behind a legacy of friends, students and teammates.
Ron's family would like to thank the caring staff at Colonial Oaks, the Doctors and nurses at Methodist IMU and the wonderful peace that was provided by Houston Hospice.
A celebration of Ron's life will be held on Friday, January 24th at one o'clock in the sanctuary of St. Luke's, the Reverend Linda Christians officiating. A reception will follow in the fellowship hall.
In lieu of flowers the family requests donations to be made in Ron's name to Hospitality Apartments- P.O.Box 25213, Houston, Texas, 77265-5213, The Nick Finnegan Counseling Center- St. Luke's Methodist Church or to the charity of your choice.
Ever the master of one-liners we will close with one of his favorites! When viewing a long obituary he had a favorite saying and it applies here, "That was quite an undertaking"!
"Well done thou good and faithful servant" Welcome Home And the angels sang "Amen"
P.O. Box 25213, Houston TN 77265-5213
Nick Finnegan Counseling Center--St Luke's Methodist Church
3471 Westheimer Road, Houston TX 77027