Monday, June 10, 2013

Meet the Member: Vivian Morris

 Our lives are largely determined by the choices we make. Vivian Morris knew what those choices must be, though she did not always know where they would lead her. As a young lady growing up in Michigan, she saw her family hit some rough spots financially, and chose to quit school and seek a job, becoming self-supportive at the age of 16. World War II was in progress, and she found work in a defense plant.

She met her future husband Dorvan when she was 18. He was just home from serving in
the Military. He had fought in Italy and Germany, and had been a prisoner of war. In 1946, a year after they met, they were married. When she was 21, their first child was born, a son, Wesley, and in 1954 along came daughter Yvonne. Their little daughter had severe health problems, and on advice from their doctors they moved to Arizona, where the climate is dry. She never had those problems again.  They chose to live in Tucson. Her husband first worked as a handyman, then was a heavy equipment operator. His final position, from which he retired after 25 years, was custodian/gardener for the Tucson Public Schools.

Vivian discovered that she had to fight for a job in the face of reverse discrimination, when the positions were mostly going to minorities. She managed to find a place as companion to an employment manager’s wife, wife, and was allowed to bring her daughter to work with her. She continued to find employment in the homes of well to-do families.

In 1962 with financial help she enrolled as a freshman at the University of Arizona, and after graduating four years later, immediately found a teaching job. She taught second grade for 25 years, requesting the students who had problems. She handled the children as her parents had handled her, with love, but with boundaries. She found they responded well to her. She remembered her own elementary days, when she was bored and often disturbed her class, and was assigned her own taped off area. Knowing that children need limits, she set high expectations, and found that they usually were met. She was dubbed, “The Iron Fist in the Velvet Glove.”

In retirement she and her husband traveled extensively in their motor home. They frequented fitness centers, and she was a member of the Red Hats. They enjoyed country and gospel music, and she has an extensive collection of the Gaither Family recordings. After he passed away, Vivian and daughter Yvonne and her husband Bob decided on a new adventure: finding a new home! They remembered traveling in and enjoying the Northwest, so decided to look here.

Today they live on Axton Road, she in her own apartment which is a part of the house. Her son still lives in Tucson. Each spring Vivian drives to Arizona alone, independently confidant in her ability to take care of herself. Though she keeps her walker handy, she views it as an accessory, there when she needs it. She spends summers in the cool mountain area southeast of Flagstaff, in the small town of Heber, where she still has a home. In the fall she drives back, and resumes her interests here: lunch at the Senior Center, exercises 5 days a week, Bible Study on Fridays. She sometimes volunteers at the high school where her son-in-law teaches. She has no computer or TV, preferring to live in the real world.