History of the Restoration Movement

Don Heath Morris


Seventh President of Abilene Christian University - 1940-1969

Don H. Morris

Don Heath Morris was born August 13, 1902, in Desoto, Texas, to the late Mr. and Mrs. B. P. Morris, a pioneer Dallas County couple.

He graduated from DeSoto High School in 1918 and enrolled for two years in Thorp Springs (Texas) Christian College, a junior college. After graduating from Thorp Springs in 1920 he went to Abilene, Texas, in 1922 and enrolled in Abilene Christian College at the age of 20. He graduated from ACC two years later with a bachelor's degree in education.

On November 1, 1924, in Waxahachie, Texas, he married Miss Alberta Allen, his college sweetheart. To this union one son, Tommy, and two daughters, Patsy and Jackie, were born. Patsy became Mrs. Fred Schneider of Dallas, Texas, and Jackie became Mrs. W. D. Lawson of Abilene, Texas.

Morris began preaching in 1923. He preached his first sermon at Waxahachie, Texas. He was never a located preacher but he preached in practically every town within 200 miles of Abilene, in most every State in the union and in several foreign countries.

Positions that he held included teaching Latin and Mathematics at Red Oak, Texas, High School. After graduation from ACC he became a teacher and debate coach at Abilene High School. In 1928 he served Abilene Christian as speech teacher. In four years he rose to the vice-presidency of the college. From 1932 to 1940, he was vice president and head of the Department of Speech.

In 1930 he received the Master's Degree in Education from the University of Texas. He became ACC's seventh president in 1940, only 16 years after his college graduation. Formally installed on November 10, 1940, he was the first ex-student to become ACC president.

He served 29 years as ACC president and in 1969 ranked as the dean of college and university presidents in Texas, having served the longest in the chief executive's position. He became the school's first chancellor on September 1, 1969.

In 1956, McMurray College of Abilene, Texas, awarded President Morris an honorary Doctor of Laws degree. In 1963 Pepperdine College of Los Angeles, California, conferred upon him the same degree. Oklahoma Christian College of Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, presented him an honorary Doctor of Letters Degree in 1968.

On his 25th anniversary at ACC, he and his wife were given an around-the-world tour. During Dr. Morris' presidential tenure with the college ACC began its largest physical expansion in history. From 1968 to 1974 more than $10 million worth of new buildings were completed.

Don Morris was baptized as a teenager at DeSoto, Texas, by Horace Busby in a meeting where more than 100 adults were baptized.

When Morris had been president of Abilene Christian College for more than 25 years he was honored by a bountiful dinner where hundreds of friends came to express their love and appreciation for his wonderful Christian example and influence over the young people who came to ACC for their college training. Hundreds who could not come to the dinner called by phone or wrote beautiful letters. A letter signed by all of the elders and deacons of the College Church of Christ reads in part: ". . . we note your steadfast personal dedication to the highest moral principles and your frequent contributions to moral leadership in the community; your genuine devotion to God; your re-assuring leadership in t he College Church of Christ as an active member and as an elder; your unimpeachable character; your unselfish giving of yourself to old and young alike, and your inexhaustible optimism expressed with such tempered appropriateness."

Don Heath Morris died January 9, 1974, at Abilene, Texas. Chancellor Morris, one of the most respected national leaders in Christian education suffered a heart attack on the sidewalk enroute from ACC's Preachers and Elders Workshop in Moody Coliseum on the ACC campus to his office in the Margaret and Herman Brown Library. He died at 1:15 P.M. on Wednesday, January 9,1974.

He died in the emergency room of West Texas Medical Center.

Survivors included his wife, Alberta, 2002 Campus Court, Abilene, Texas; two daughters, Mrs. W. O. Lawson of 525 EN 20th, Abilene, Texas, and Mrs. Fred M. Schneider of Garden Grove, California; one son, Tommy A. Morris of 833 Harrison, Abilene, Texas; and 10 grandchildren.

Funeral service was held January 11, 1974, at 2:30 P.M. in the College Church of Christ auditorium in Abilene.

Dr. John C. Stevens, ACC President and the man who succeeded Dr. Morris as President in 1969, conducted the funeral service. Speakers include Dr. Walter H. Adams, ACC Dean emeritus, Lawrence L. Smith, ACC Treasurer, and Bob Douglas, minister of the College Church of Christ in Abilene.

Pallbearers include Robert D. Hunter, Lavelle Layfield, Dr. Jimmie Shiu, William B. Decker, Dr. Sol B. Estes, Dr. John L. Estes, Dean Walling and Garvin Beauchamp.

Burial followed in the Elmwood Memorial Park in Abilene.

In the passing of Don Heath Morris, Abilene Christian College and the brotherhood as a whole suffered a great loss. With hands joined and heads bowed, we say with King David, "Know ye not that there is a prince and a great man fallen this day in Israel?" 12 Sam. 3:38).

-In Memoriam, Gussie Lambert, pages 194-196

Directions To The Grave Of D.H. Morris

Don Heath Morris is buried in Abilene, Texas in the Elmwood Memorial Park. The cemetery lies on the southern outskirts of the city of Abilene. From the west side of Abilene on I-20 take exit 283a and head south on Hwy 83/277. Go about 7 miles south and exit off on Hwy 277 South. Travel a couple of miles on Hwy. 277. The address is 5750 U.S. Highway 277 S. Office Phone: 352-692-0655. See Map Of Cemetery Here. Also buried here are E.R. Harper, J.D. Thomas, Jimmy Mankin, J.W. Roberts, Willard Tate and others connect to the Restoration Movement.

Elmwood Funeral Home & Memorial Park
5750 Hwy. 277 S.
Abilene, Texas 79606
Phone - 325-692-0655
PE Estates
B2 Space 12

GPS Location of the Grave
32°24'51.3 "N 99°47'55.9"W
or D.d. 32.414254, -99.798865

Alberta A. 1904 - 1992
Don H. 1907 - 1974

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