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John Sanford Morrison, 99


There will be a celebration of John S. Morrison’s life at the Family Farm at Border, MN on Sunday, July 7th at 3:00 p.m. with a meal and fellowship to follow.

John Sanford Morrison, born November 1, 1919 passed away April 19, 2019 in Baudette, MN. He is survived by his children; Ethel Lucek, Carol (Jim) Davis, Robert (Cathy), Gordon (Linda), Mae (Tom) Williamson, John (Kim), Brian (Bev), Joel (Stephanie), Susan (Jeff) Palm, Beverly Anderson, Bradley (Cheryl), Hugh (Robyn), Leonard (Stephanie). He left 41 grandchildren, 72 great-grandchildren and 6 great-great grandchildren behind. He is also survived by his brother and sister-in-law, Glenn & Helen Morrison and many nieces and nephews.

John was preceded in death by: Cecelia Henrietta Coope, his wife of 50 years; a baby girl in 1957; Phyllis Wilson, his wife of 10 years; sons-in-law Rudy Lucek, Kenny Bjorgaard and Cliff Anderson; daughter-in-law Jeannette (Nelson) Morrison;  two grandchildren, Joel Morrison and Morgan Williams; his parents, Vane and Ethel (Topping) Morrison and by nine of his ten siblings; brothers Dean, Dale, Ervin, Vernon, and Merle; sisters Lois Skogland, Vera Strand, Eunice Ogle, and Ann Kellher.

John was born in the Rapid River Township of Lake of the Woods County, MN. He attended school through 8th grade near Hay Creek and later at the Morrison School near his family’s home. He was conscripted into the Army January 31, 1942 at Fort Snelling, MN. He served in Cuba and Puerto Rico; his honorable discharge was October 14, 1945 from the Army Air Force Base Unit of Lowery Field, CO.

He and Henrietta were married October 1, 1946. They made their first home south of Clementson, MN on the Rapid River where they farmed. They moved the family to the property on the Rainy River in 1955. During this time John mainly hauled pulpwood to the mill in International Falls.

In 1982 John and Henrietta moved to Cortez, CO. This was an exciting time for them; they built a ram-earth home using adobe mud. This meant the house stayed cool in the summer and was easy to heat in the winter. All their electricity was from solar energy. They were members of The Lighthouse Baptist Church in Cortez. Henrietta passed away in 1996.

He married Phyllis Wilson in 2001. They continued to live at his home in Cortez. He expanded his interest in energy by erecting a wind generator and experimented in storing energy as hydrogen. Phyllis passed away in 2011. John lived on his own in Cortez until December of 2015 when he moved back to northern Minnesota after breaking his hip. He lived with his daughter, Mae, until spring, and then lived on his own in the family cabin on the Rainy River property until moving to the ARC (assisted living), in Baudette, MN in the fall of 2017. He spent the last 1.5 years at his apartment in the ARC.

John was always interested in both wind and solar energy; he loved to read, travel and sing. He was an expert welder and was often called upon to repair machinery. He built a skidder out of two Allis Chalmers tractors that is still used by his sons on the Rainy River property. When he turned the Rapid River property into wild rice paddies he built two hydraulically driven rice pickers. And he found time to build a wood and fiberglass boat. He was a hard worker; he farmed, logged and hauled tons of pulp and pole wood. He served on the Board of Education for ISD 363 during the mid-70s to the early 80s; this was during the time the new school at Indus was built. Just prior to moving to Colorado John worked with his sons hauling wood chips from Marcel to International Falls, MN.

He had an excellent memory and could remember all the words to songs that his mother taught him 90 plus years ago. He enjoyed reciting classic poems that he’d learned in grade school, but in his final years he mostly enjoyed singing popular songs from the 1940s and 50s. His independent nature and pioneer spirit will be remembered.

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