Morris, Robert Leevi

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Robert Leevi Morris, SMSGT Retired, U.S.A.F, 92 of Ponte Vedra Beach, FL died April 5, 2020 at Ponte Vedra Gardens in Ponte Vedra Beach, FL. Mr. Morris was a proud veteran of WWII and the Vietnam War, retiring from the United States Air Force in 1974. He then began his second career as a Cattle Farmer at his beloved Red Falcon Farm while obtaining his CSC degree in Electricity using that to work at Burlington Industries and Virginia Tech to augment the needs of the farm.

Robert was born in Nace VA in 1927 as the third child of Jesse L and Lucie S Morris. He was preceded in death by his wife Dorothy P. Morris, his son Richard A. Morris, his brothers Howard C. Morris, his twin Rodney S. Morris, Jesse Lee (Niff) Morris and his sister Nancy M. Peters. He is survived by his sister, Mary Pendleton Hood, son Bruce E. Morris and wife Alice C. Morris, daughter-in-law Vicki Costa Morris, as well as his granddaughter Michelle C. Morris, granddaughter Leigh C.P. Gregory and husband Philip A.S. Gregory and great grandsons Alvah H. and Whitman A., grandson Eric Morris and wife Nicole C. Morris and great granddaughter Madeline R.

Robert Morris grew up on Hilltop Farm of Pearisburg and graduated from Pearisburg High School. One of his proudest moments as a Red Devil was the undefeated basketball team with him starting at center. He joined the Army in the fall of 1946 for 30 months and after being honorably discharged, worked at the Radford Ammunitions Plant in Radford VA and Celanese Fibers Plant in Narrows Virginia where his soon to be wife, Dorothy Price also worked.

Robert and Dorothy married in 1951 but a lifetime in Giles County was not in their cards. Robert enlisted in the Air Force in the 1955 signing on as a Radar Specialist and after training being assigned to Richmond VA. While in Richmond Robert and Dorothy had both of their sons and then began a USAF trek that led to Tucson Arizona and a classified reconnaissance career that led to the development of unmanned drones that figure so prominently today. In fact, he was very proud to have been the Radar Tracking Technician on the first test mission in Vietnam. That career in the USAF garnered over 100 commendations including the Presidential Unit Citation, 10 Air Medals and 2 Distinguished Flying Crosses. He ultimately retired from the Air Force, due to hearing loss related to flying over 500 missions in Vietnam.

As his military career ended, Robert and Dorothy purchased land on Rye Hollow Road and along with Dorothy’s sister Omelia and brother-in-law Eugene Shuff, ran Red Falcon Farm, focusing on Hereford Angus cross calves. In his later years he often mentioned how the farm brought the country into his city raised sons and how he loved working the fields and calling the cattle in for feeding time. Over time, Robert and Dorothy purchased total control of the farm.

Their older son Richard returned to Arizona to get his college degree and ultimately moved to Australia and their younger son Bruce received his degree from Virginia Tech and moved to Richmond. Robert’s joy increased when Bruce married Alice Cline in 1984, and ultimately gained three grandchildren (Michelle, Leigh, and Eric). Richard married Vicki Costa in early 1996 in Australia but a few months later Richard died in an accident. Dorothy then passed away in July 2000. He continued to run the farm but the toll of trying to manage a large farm alone convinced him to move to a condominium in the warmer climate of Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida.

Once in Ponte Vedra Beach, Robert’s attention moved from raising cattle to watching his three grandchildren be active in school in sports and academics as each matriculated from high school to Florida State University. His joys in Florida included watching The Players golf tournament each year, attending youth and high school sporting events, riding his bike all over town and ultimately, sharing in the special moments of his grandchildren.

Robert became an avid journal writer in his older days and found in his notes were the following items. “I want the memories of my life to bring them joy and not sorrow. No weeping at my funeral. I hope to be remembered for being a kind soul who loved his family. I was proud of my accomplishments in the Air Force as well as working on the Red Falcon Farm. My ultimate joy and pride were of my wife and my two children as well as my three grandchildren, their spouses, and my great grandchildren. I want them to remember always that I loved them all.”

A celebration of his life will be conducted Saturday, August 14th from 4 to 7 pm at Givens – Riffe Funeral Services, 600 Main Street, Narrows VA. It will be a casual celebration of his life and times, please feel free to bring any photos or memories you have.