Gary Francis Morris of Thornton, Texas, went to be with the Lord during the early morning hours of Friday, January 26, 2024, at Baylor Scott & White Medical Center – Temple, while in hospice care from complications due to a stroke. Gary was 76.
Gary was born October 30, 1947, in Port Arthur, Texas to Fred B. and Betty (Duprie) Morris. He attended Bishop Byrne High School, where he graduated in 1965. Gary attended vocational school for welding at Lamar University.
He volunteered to join the U.S. Army in October 1967 and served until honorably discharged as a Specialist 5 in September 1970. Gary attended basic training at Fort Polk, Louisiana and spent time at Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri before serving in Vietnam in Tam Quan at LZ Lowboy and Bong Son. He was also stationed in Germany. His honors include National Defense Service Medal, Vietnam Service Medal, Expert M-16, Sharpshooter M-14, Two Overseas Bars, and Vietnam Campaign Medal.
Once back in the states, Gary began working for Bethlehem Steel in Beaumont. He met the love of his life, Beverly Dawn Odneal, who was a teacher in Alvin at the time. The two met through Gary’s brother and sister-in-law, who was also Beverly’s aunt. Beverly knew after their first date that “this was it.” About one and a half years later, Gary was united in marriage with Beverly on March 28, 1975, in Port Arthur. The couple would have celebrated 49 years of marriage in March of this year.
Gary and Beverly moved to Nederland to raise a family. Gary continued his work as an industrial welder, while Beverly taught elementary school in Nederland. In his free time, Gary enjoyed fishing and hunting dove and ducks at Sabine Lake. Gary and his family were members of St. Charles Catholic Church in Nederland.
After he and Beverly retired, the two packed up and moved to a property on Lake Limestone in 2006. Gary (AKA Pop Pop and Poo Paw) spent his free time searching for arrowheads near the water’s edge and piddling in his workshop. Fishing was a favorite pastime, and searching for the elusive skin walker while feeding neighborhood deer was a regular occurrence for Gary.
Gary was easy-going and funny, and he enjoyed making people laugh. He cherished his grandchildren and had nicknames that frequently changed for family members and friends. He loved his dogs, enjoyed watching the birds and feeding the wildlife, and spent time reading true-life survivor books.
He often considered himself to be shy and preferred visiting with others one-on-one instead of in a group setting. However, that all changed several years ago when he came out of his shell following an illness. He would say, “life is too short” or “get busy livin’ or get busy dyin’.” And Gary chose to live. He attended fish fries and other neighborhood events at the lake and traveled, when he felt well enough to ride alongside Beverly, to visit family. He enjoyed what he called “rapping” with people who crossed his path to learn more about their lives and often shared his favorite sweets — just about anything chocolate — with others. Some of his most memorable phrases include: “I’m hip,” “double nickel,” “Goggling,” “chemo brain,” “not my rice ball,” “getting a dry rain,” “kee-yee,” “on bec a lon cet” (rough French translation for this bird has a long beak,) and “Oui” (yes in French.)
Although Gary suffered various ailments throughout his adult life — a quintuple bypass, tinnitus, Multiple Myeloma, Amyloidosis, stem cell transplant, and more recently, two strokes — he continued to fight each day and never let it affect how he showed up with others. He could make anyone laugh, was kind, and treated others like he wanted to be treated. His strength was undeniable, as was his faith in God. He loved his family and will be remembered as one of the best. God gained a spectacular soul, and Gary will be greatly missed.
He is survived by his loving wife of 48 years, Beverly Morris, who he referred to as an angel for her caretaking; daughter and son-in-law, Amber and Tristan Browne of Weatherford; son and daughter-in-law, Clint and Erin Morris of Austin; his grandchildren, Mia Browne and Dane Browne of Weatherford, and Ella Morris and Carter Morris of Austin; brother and sister-in-law, PJ and Mary Morris of Beaumont; sister and brother-in-law, Robyn and Dan Hebert of Bridge City; sister-in-law, Frankie Sue Morris of Port Neches.
Gary is also survived by nieces and nephews, Shanda Bailey and husband Andrew Beam of Pearland; Carrie and husband Kerry Strong of Nederland; Marcie Hebert of Bridge City; Elliott and wife Nicole Morris of College Station; and Emily Morris of Beaumont; as well as countless family members and friends who he cherished.
Gary is preceded in death by his parents and brother, Fred Jude Morris.
The family wishes to express a heart-felt thank you to all of Gary’s doctors including but not limited to Dr. Gordon Lee and Dr. Tyler Snedden and their staffs, as well as doctors, nurses, and staff at Baylor Scott & White Medical Center – Temple for their attentive care.
Visitation will be held on Thursday, February 1, 2024, from 6:00-8:00 p.m. with Rosary at 7:00 p.m. in the Groesbeck Funeral Home Chapel.
Funeral services will be held at 10:00 a.m. on Friday, February 2, 2024, in the Groesbeck Funeral Home Chapel with Deacon Daniel Ramirez officiating. Burial will follow at Fort Parker Memorial Park in Groesbeck.
Honorary pallbearers include Clint Morris, Tristan Browne, PJ Morris, Elliott Morris, Dane Browne, Carter Morris, Wayne Colicher, and Elijah Boian.
If you would like to donate to the American Legion Post #288 in honor of Gary Francis Morris, please send donations to P. O. Box 627, Groesbeck, TX 76642.