Ellen Ware Morrison
Ellen Ware Morrison did pioneering work at organizing blood drives in Hampton Roads for the American Red Cross.
Ellen Ware Morrison, 92, Was Red Cross Director
January 19, 2002|By NORMAN TIPPENS Daily Press
NEWPORT NEWS — Ellen Ware Morrison, who did pioneering work at organizing blood drives in Hampton Roads for the American Red Cross, died Thursday. She was 92.
Mrs. Morrison was admitted to Mary Immaculate Hospital on Monday and died there. She had been a resident of Riverside Regional Convalescent Center for the past year.
She began her Red Cross work as a volunteer at Fort Eustis in 1928. After taking time off to have three children, she returned to work for the Newport News Chapter of the Red Cross in 1945, and quickly became executive director. When the Newport News chapter merged with the Hampton Chapter in 1966, she became executive director of the Hampton Roads Chapter.
By the time she retired from the chapter in 1980, her commitment to securing blood donations for needy patients had laid the foundation for the success of the modern program -- while earning her the nickname, "Dracula."
"She was willing to be called anything as long as she could collect blood for the people of this community," said Patricia Stern, retired manager of the Hampton Roads Chapter. Mrs. Stern was the executive director of the Hampton Chapter when it merged with Newport News and served as Mrs. Morrison's assistant executive director after the merger.
Coincidentally, Thursday also saw the death of Thomas Hardy "Lolly" Wilson II, retired General District Court judge for Hampton, who was instrumental in the merger of the Hampton and Newport News chapters and served as first chairman of the Hampton Roads Chapter.
"It has been a double blow for us," said Heather Livingston, executive director of the Hampton Roads Chapter.
Paul J. Regal, executive director of the Mid-Atlantic Blood Region, remembers Mrs. Morrison's absolute dedication to her work.
"She was tough -- sometimes there was no making her happy," quipped Regal, who could remember times the powerful judge and chapter chairman, Mr. Wilson, would bring the feisty Mrs. Morrison flowers to smooth over differences.
Mrs. Morrison held her first blood drive on Oct. 13, 1949. Her goal was 100 pints and the drive collected 118.
At a time when blood had a short shelf life, Mrs. Morrison had a hands-on approach to blood collecting, according to Mrs. Stern. When the hospital called with a need, Mrs. Morrison went to her records, found a suitable donor, called the donor and arranged to get them to the collection site. She particularly cultivated shipyard and Navy personnel as donors.
"They were very familiar with her voice and knew why she was calling," said Mrs. Stern.
Born on Sept. 24, 1909 in West Point, she was raised in Gloucester County Courthouse. She had been a Peninsula resident since 1925. She was a long time member of the former Parkview Presbyterian Church and later attended the Seventh Day Adventist Church in Hampton.
Mrs. Morrison was preceded in death by her husband, William Luther Morrison, her parents, Walter Hayes Ware and Lida Hudson Ware, and three sisters.
Survivors include her children, Ann Morrison Grasty of Newport News, William H. Morrison and his wife, Barbara, of Lake Waccamaw, N.C., and W. Ware Morrison and his wife, Nancy, of Virginia Beach; four grandchildren, Mary Butler, Laura Quinn, Nina Kelly Morrison and Barton Morrison; four great-grandchildren, T.J. and Steven Barnhill and Patrick and Katie Quinn; and many nieces and nephews.
The family will receive friends from 7 to 8:30 p.m. tonight at Peninsula Funeral Home.
A funeral service will be conducted at 2 p.m. on Sunday at the funeral home, officiated by the Rev. Donald Ambrose. Burial will be in Sunny Slope Cemetery in West Point.
Memorial donations may be made to the American Red Cross, Hampton Roads Chapter, 4915 W. Mercury Blvd., Newport News, VA 23605