One of a kind, yes indeed, no one ever like this one. Bob Morrow, we salute you. On June 12, 2020 at age 91 you left us, but we understand—the body was used-up and you needed a break. But you filled the coffers before you took off. Well, let’s see, how do we take the measure of the best dad ever? This is Scott your son, and Connie and Ellyn your daughters shouting out to you, along with Craig and Kenny, and Russell, Katie and Emily, but there are a lot of other voices, a choir of well-wishers throughout your life. Your wife Convere left us eleven years ago, but you managed to stay on. Did you know how loved you were? Yes, so truly loved.
Okay, we know you didn’t so much care for all of the gushing and praise, but we did want to at least give it a shot. We remember how when Connie saw you for the last time, she was pouring her heart out, and as she was finishing you said softly from your bed, “Back off.” Um-hum, no surprise, ‘cause why would you ever want to hear how great you are? You were a special one that way; you weren’t much a fan of emotion, but yet you were the most loving person we knew, but just speaking in another language.
You were so incredibly kindhearted. All your little tricks, no, you didn’t fool us. Saying “I need to take your car for a test ride,” and then secretly filling it with gas so we wouldn’t know. Yep, we were on to that one. And quietly looking for what we needed and immediately meeting that need. You know, like maintaining three children through college even with a recession going on, never breathing a word of complaint, supporting us in our loves and projects and life’s goals, quietly and generously and without our knowing—yep, check that one.
But why limit this loving and selfless devotion to just one generation? When your granddaughter was born, you would drive 45 minutes up to Davidson every second evening to stay up the whole night taking care of this little screaming baby while her mom got some much needed sleep. You didn’t do this just once or twice, but every other night for three months. I know math wasn’t your strong point, so let me repeat those numbers again for you: every second night, for twelve hours straight, for three months….
Weren’t you the one who drove up to Chapel Hill to retrieve a car that you had given to one of us, a car whose headlights eventually went out, to replace it with a better car? You then drove back to Charlotte in the dark with the defective car, following trucks because you had no lights. You weren’t impressed with that, but we sure as hell were.
How could a genius-level person like you be so humble? We don’t get that. You could fix anything, repair any car, rejuvenate any appliance, create anything needed, and this level of skill was, what, normal? No, my dear, this is not normal; it is extraordinary. All the washing machines, the electronic gear, the bicycles, the homemade skateboards—the million projects you took on yourself to benefit the family,this was the stuff of legend.
But speaking of legend, half of south Charlotte knew you as their computer guru. You just sat down one day and over time taught yourself all you could learn about software and hardware and then set out to serve the masses. And then once in a very rare blue moon you would actually accept payment for your service.
And cars, yes, that TR-3 sports car you had back in the day; you so loved it, didn’t you! When Package Products wanted to give you a proper impressive salesman car, you stuck with the tiny convertible. And we got to enjoy it too, the five of us sitting in a little blue metal box the size of a closet.
You wanted a sailboat for the family trips to Garden City Beach, and because you were just too frugal (too cheap!!) to actually buy one, dammit, you went to the junkyard and got an old wrecked Sunfish and repaired it. Then you got some raw steel and an acetylene torch and you manufactured all the metal parts. You got yards and yards of nylon and sewed your own sail out in the backyard night after night, and voila, workable sailboat for all of us to enjoy.
And that sewing machine was a favored item with you, wasn’t it? You sewed Mom a new skirt after your wedding and repaired Ellyn’s dress that had been ripped just hours before the school dance, then you constructed and sewed the backpack, money belts and sleep sacks we would take on our student trips to Europe, and, and, and…... How many more can we name here?
You never really spoke about it much, but the evidence was all around that you were an incredible athlete. Football player, track star, national record holder in high hurdles, NC Track Hall of Fame, and whatever else we don’t know. Then as an adult you taught yourself golf, squash and tennis and became accomplished in those, but that wasn’t enough, so you taught the tennis to us so that we could have our own fling. But wait, there was one sport-related thing you did talk about.You so loved your time teaching swimming at Myers Park Club and instructing all of the folks who became swimmers because of you. One little bit of pride is allowed, you know.
How much we enjoyed your many quirks…how you would take 90 minutes to eat a meal, how you would order a large pizza and only eat the topping and not the crust, how when someone asked you a question you would go to the moon and back explaining and never actually answer the question, how you had all these sayings particular to you like, “That’s uptown,” “Let me ask the chief of staff,” “What is the battle plan here,” “Those were good groceries,” “Correct!” and a thousand others.
You were so admired, so loved, so honored. Sorry, but you have to hear this, Dad. It’s our turn now. When you left us, we were really, really sad. Suffering was your companion in those last months, but of course you were the hero all the way along. So noble and brave and kind and thoughtful and sweet. We could not have wished for better. But you see, we are not just making up all these wonderful things about you simply because we have to say something nice in your obituary. No, all of your friends, the people you helped and benefited, and the people you worked and served with, they all had the same thing to say. “This one was so dear to me and meant so much to me. He enriched my life.” There you go, a Southern gentleman all the way through!
You were such a wonderful human being—the best father, the best husband to our mother, the best friend to those who had the privilege of being close to you, the most generous and kind person, the most beloved as you strode through the world with your neon golf pants and your flip-up sun glasses. We are weeping tears of loss, but even more tears of joyous gratitude. Travel well, precious father.
Online condolences and memories may be shared at kepnerfh.com