Thursday, June 26, 2008

Tucson and Tucson Interfaith HIV/AIDS Network Loses a Great Champion

Posted By on Thu, Jun 26, 2008 at 12:41 PM

Scott Blades, executive director of Tucson Interfaith HIV/AIDS Network (TIHAN), recently announced the passing of Dr. Myron Morris, who died June 23 at the age of 83.

From Scott:

More than any other person, Myron has been the face of TIHAN:  devoting more volunteers hours, raising more funds, and serving more CarePartners than any other person in TIHAN's 14-year history.  In addition to his service on a TIHAN CareTeam and on our Board of Directors, Myron helped raise more than $1.4 million for TIHAN over the past decade, primarily through "Treasures for TIHAN," the benefit auction for which Myron was renowned.  And he has become a dear friend to so many people involved with TIHAN.

Two months ago, in the middle of doing volunteer work in support of TIHAN (collecting items for our auction!), Myron experienced great pain which necessitated him going to urgent care.  Over the next two months, his health failed as his body struggled to recuperate from three abdominal surgeries.  Despite his strong spirit and determination, Myron passed away on Monday night at the age of 83.  His legacy lives on through TIHAN and those he touched.

An anonymous donor has made a $1,000 donation to TIHAN in Myron's memory, establishing The Myron Morris Memorial Fund.  An additional $1,000 contribution has already been received.  Gifts to carry on Myron's legacy may be sent to TIHAN, 1011 North Craycroft #301, Tucson, Arizona  85711.

Please join us in honoring Myron Morris and the impact that he made at a memorial service this Sunday, June 29th, at 2:00pm at Temple Emanu-El (225 North Country Club Road), north of Broadway), with Rabbi Samuel M. Cohon officiating.  A reception will follow the service.

In lieu of flowers, please make a donation of time and money in memory of Myron to TIHAN or to another not-for-profit organization close to your heart.

TIHAN sent along Morris' official obituary; this one gave me a glimpse of someone who was obviously spectacular. Evidently the cause of death was due to complications after several abdominal surgeries.

I am left wishing I knew Dr. Morris. Take a look for yourself:

Myron was embraced by all who knew him. His deeply held beliefs in reaching out led to countless friends in every community through which he passed. His humor and warmth were his stock and trade. His passing will be mourned by his relatives and by all of his many friends and associates.

He will be especially missed by his brother, Norman, who has regarded Myron as his guiding spirit and role model since they were young boys growing up in Philadelphia. Norman recalls their many shared childhood and youthful experiences, their travels together and their many happy times.

Myron was a multi-faceted individual. He was a gifted pianist, artisan and discriminating judge of music and of the arts. In his travels throughout the world he gathered artifacts that were representative of the works of extraordinary crafts people whose work he admired. He was a generous man who lavished his friends and relations with gifts and memorabilia.

He began his musical studies at the Settlement Music School under renowned pianists and musical theorists. His brother also recalls that in his teenage years, Myron performed in a Settlement Music School concert attended by Albert Einstein, one of his foremost scientific heroes. In more recent times he studied piano with the gifted pianist and music critic of the New York Times, Anthony Tommasini.

He was also a man of conscience, and action. In response to the killing in 1964 of three young civil rights workers who dedicated their lives to ending racial discrimination in the South, Myron joined the thousands of volunteers who traveled to Mississippi, the sight of the murders, to register black voters. They did so despite continued threats of bodily harm from officials and members of organizations such as the Klu Klux Klan and the White Citizens Council.

In Boston, Myron pursued his medical career with rigor and compassion. Yet, he found greater satisfaction in building community. He volunteered on a medical van that ministered to the needs of wayward street kids, joined in revitalizing a run-down Jamaica Plain neighborhood, and involved himself in protesting war and promoting the voice of the oppressed. He gathered a remarkable multi-generational network of friends, many who regarded Myron as honorary uncle. Host to countless parties, gourmet dinners, musical offerings and political meetings, he greeted all with a broad smile, twinkling eye and inimitable "Myron" hug.

In Tucson, Myron devoted his full time and energy to an array of organizations, with his primary focus being the Tucson Interfaith HIV/AIDS Network (TIHAN), where Myron served as a caregiving volunteer for numerous people living with HIV/AIDS throughout his twelve years of service. In addition to his caregiving, Myron was recognized as a tireless advocate for people living with the disease and as the organization' s foremost ambassador. In addition to serving on TIHAN's Board of Directors, he was a passionate fundraiser, helping raise over $1.4 million for the organization' s programs and services over the past decade, primarily through the "Treasures for TIHAN" auction of which Myron was a founder. Although he received much public acclamation including TIHAN's "Excellence in Caring" Award and the Association of Fundraising Professionals' "Spirit of Philanthropy" Award, and his volunteer efforts being highlighted in The Jewish Post and the Arizona Daily Star, it was the personal satisfaction and sense of doing what is "right" that drove his efforts.

Myron Morris was a passionate philanthropist and supporter of social justice, civil rights, medical education, progressive politics, inter-faith dialogue/cooperation, and local theater, music, and arts. Since coming out as a gay man 15 years ago, Myron has continued to thrive, living life fully and openly. His life was lived surrounded by an amazing network of friends throughout the world.

Myron Morris, Ph.D, M.D., was the son of the late Benjamin and Reba Morris of Philadelphia. He is survived by his brother, Norman, his sister-in-law, Sandra, and their three sons, Kenneth Morris, Gregory Morris, and Benjamin Morris, along with their respective families, as well as by his first cousins, Dr. and Mrs. Michael Jay Bresler of Emerald Hills, California, and their sons, Benjamin and Aaron.

A memorial service will be held in Tucson this Sunday, June 29th at 2:00pm at Temple Emanu-El (225 North Country Club Road), with Rabbi Samuel M. Cohon officiating. A reception will follow the service.

In lieu of flowers, please make a donation of time and money in memory of Myron to TIHAN or to another not-for-profit organization close to your heart.

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