Sunday, July 09, 2017

Oregon Tech athletics hold fond memories for Linfielder Howard Morris (Klamath Falls H&N 8/6/2007)

OIT athletics hold fond memories for Howard Morris

By Steve Kadel, Aug. 6, 2007 Klamath Falls, Oregon, Herald & News

The football game was played decades ago, but Howard Morris remembers every critical play.

That includes Southern Oregon State College quarterback Dan Miles rolling out against Oregon Institute of Technology and taking a hard hit on a touchdown run. The blow knocked out a tooth and left Miles unconscious.

Referees called timeout as Miles pulled himself together. The next thing OIT coach Morris saw was Miles lining up to kick the extra point — despite a rule requiring injured players to leave the game for at least one play.

The kick was good, and Morris was livid.

He ran toward referees to complain, and was sacked with a penalty for coming onto the field illegally.

Morris can now laugh about the incident, and a narrow loss to the visitors, from the comfort of a living room chair in his Klamath Falls home. It was just one of the memories he recalled during a recent interview.

Always loved sports

The longtime OIT teacher, coach and athletic director was born and raised in Medford. He was passionate about sports from an early age, joining his pals for marathon baseball games on vacant lots.

“We’d leave home at 8 a.m. to play, and we came home for dinner,” Morris said.

He played baseball and football at Crater High School, earning a spot in the school Hall of Fame for football. He continued in athletics at Linfield College, where his football prowess earned Morris a spot in the college Hall of Fame as well as first-team All American honors.

He taught and coached for four years at Tigard High School before bringing his coaching expertise to OIT. He began as head OIT wrestling coach, and assistant coach in baseball and football in 1962. By 1965, he’d taken the head football coaching job.

Morris said football was his favorite sport because of its intricacy.

“More than other sports I participated in, it was a chess game,” he said.

Greatest Service Award

A milestone came in 1967-68 when OIT began offering four-year bachelor degrees. Before that, the school gave only two-year certificates and recruiting was a constant preoccupation.

Morris wasn’t athletic director when Miles was hired as an OIT coach. However, he gave a positive recommendation for hiring the man whose name has become synonymous with OIT Hustlin’ Owls basketball.

Miles has nothing but praise for Morris.

“Howard was a tremendous athlete,” Miles said, “and he’s always been a kind, good man. He was soft-spoken, but I’ve seen him get fired up a few times.

“He was a very good man to work for. You felt like his door was always open.”

Morris received one of his highest honors during the 2004 OIT Alumni Awards banquet — the Greatest Service Award.

OIT President Martha Anne Dow said at the time that Morris’ efforts helped establish Hustlin’ Owls teams for their emphasis on excellence, scholarship and sportsmanship.

Morris and Ginger have given to the school by establishing an endowed scholarship at OIT in 2003.

Honeymoon had to wait

Morris married his wife, Ginger, as a Linfield College student. Their honeymoon was supposed to be a trip up the Oregon Coast, but Morris came down with flu and Ginger caught it from him.

Their trip was postponed as other things dominated their time.

“Our honeymoon was a trip to football practice,” Ginger joked.

They got an unsettling welcome to Klamath Falls after arriving in 1962. Main Street was buzzing with activity as they sought a place to eat the first night in town.

“Every block there were one or two bars,” Morris said.

They found a diner called the Chuck Wagon, which Morris called “the only respectable place to take a family.”

Just as they were about to enter, a man wearing a cowboy hat emerged from the door, firing pistols into the air. The Morris family recoiled in shock, thinking they’d encountered a hidden pocket of the Old West.

It turned out to be Pistol Pete, a town legend, and it was all an act with blanks in the guns to generate atmosphere for the Chuck Wagon.

From athletic trips to Klamath Falls from Medford, Morris said, he’d come to consider the city “at the end of the world.”

“I came (for the OIT job) and thought I’d be here for a couple of years,” he said.

That stretched into a lifetime.

“We found it was a good place to raise our kids,” Ginger said.

“We fell in love with the place,” Morris agreed.

The couple still attends sports events, especially football games. They have season tickets to Linfield and Oregon State University football games.

Morris and his wife enjoy spending summer days at Fish Lake, where they have a fifth-wheel. Family reunions there include their five children, 10 grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.

For all the top-level sports teams he’s been part of, Morris and his wife form the best team of all. They will celebrate their 51st anniversary on Sept. 1.


H&N photo by Todd E. Swenson of Howard Morris, 71, former Oregon Tech football, wrestling and baseball coach, athletic director and teacher.


For your information from Wildcatville:

.... Howard and Ginger Morris celebrated their 60th wedding anniversary Sept. 1, 2016. William Howard Morris (Linfield Class of 1958) and Virginia “Ginger” Dew Morris (Linfield Class of 1959) were married in Medford, Ore., Sept. 1, 1956.

..... Howard Morris' Linfield football jersey number 43, is only one of three football uniform numbers retired by the College. They others who have retired football jersey numbers are Ad Rutschman and Vic Fox.

....Howard Morris was enshrined in the Linfield Athletics Hall of Fame in 1999. Link to his Linfield Athletics Hall of Fame biography:

......Crater High School (Central Point, Oregon) Spring 1996 alumni newsletter feature about Crater High and Linfield grads Howard and Ginger Morris: