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Remembering Treasures for TIHAN Hero Dr. Myron Morris

June 2008

It is with great sadness that we report the passing of Dr. Myron Morris, one of the foremost champions of TIHAN and our mission for the last 12 years.

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. His fascinating life brought him into contact with a diversity of people and experiences, as evidenced by his obituary, below.

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 June 23 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, 2660 North 1st Avenue, Tucson, Arizona 85719-2911.

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About Myron Morris

Myron Morris, MD, community activist, advocate, and philanthropist, died Monday, June 23, 2008, in Tucson where he lived since 1993. He was 83.

The cause of death was complications following several abdominal surgeries, according to his brother, Norman Morris.

Myron retired from his medical practice in Boston and moved to Tucson. He was a board-certified physician in pediatrics and pediatric allergy and practiced for some thirty years.

He was a graduate of Vanderbilt Medical School, held a PhD degree in medical microbiology from the University of Wisconsin and did his undergraduate studies at the University of Pennsylvania, where he majored in chemistry.

During his medical training, he was a resident in pediatrics at Case Western Reserve University Hospital in Cleveland and later became chief resident in pediatrics at the Cornell Medical Center in New York City.

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 Ku 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.

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In Tribute

TIHAN and those we serve are honored to have been such an important part of Myron's life. He cared about our mission with all his heart and soul. Myron Morris lived his faith, doing the mitzvot his religion teaches: bikkur holim (visiting the sick), shituf b'tsaar (alleviating another's pain), pikuah nefesh (saving life), and tikkun olam (making the world a better place).

These quotes were found among Myron's papers, and symbolize his aspirations for his life.

"I hope my achievements in life shall be these:
that I will have fought for what was right and fair,
that I will have risked for that which mattered,
that I will have given help to those who were in need, and
that I will have left the earth a better place for what I've done and who I've been."

—C. Hoppe

"When a man appears before the Throne of Judgment, the first question he will be asked is not 'Have you believed in G-d?' or 'Have you prayed and observed the ritual?"—but 'Have you dealt honorably with your fellow man?' "

—Talmud

Myron, you have succeeded in living a good life that made a difference in the world.

Scott Blades, Executive Director
Tucson Interfaith HIV/AIDS Network

 

 

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