Civic leader, businessman and WWII vet dies at 89


He was a Southold Rotary club president, a great-great-grandfather, an active member of local civic groups, a treasurer and board member of the church his father helped found, and a Navy veteran who dropped out of school to serve his country during World War II.

Daysman Morris, 89, of Southold died Monday of natural causes, bring to an end the long and accomplished life of a pillar of the Southold community.

“He was a joy,” said the Rev. Tommy Edmond of the Shiloh Baptist Church. “Basically, anything that needed to be done, he would do.”

Mr. Morris was born on March 22, 1924 in Southold along with his twin brother Vincent to G. Thomas and Anna Morris, who were among the first African-American families to settle in Southold.

Daysman Morris was the fourth of seven children. He attended Southold High school until his sophomore year, when he left school to enlist in the armed forces.

He served in the U.S. Navy for three years during World War II, and was stationed across the world, from Gibraltar to the Panama Canal. He was among the forces that invaded Iwo Jima and Okinawa in the Pacific theater.

He would eventually return to his education years later, and obtained his GED, something he was “very proud of,” family members said.

He married Nannie Morris (of no relation) in August 1949 and the couple had three children: Douglas, Lori and Sandra.

Mr. Morris became a partner of Morris Cesspool Service with his brother, Clarence, in 1953, assuming the role of sole owner two years later. He ran the hometown business for almost 40 years and retired in 1990, leaving the business to his son.

His father was a co-founder of the Shiloh Baptist Church, and Daysman would go on to serve on the church’s board of trustees and junior usher board, become president of the senior ushers, and volunteer as treasurer for the church. He also volunteered as the treasurer for the Eastern Baptist Churches Union.

Rev. Edmond, who has been pastor at the church for the past 15 years, said he greatly admired Mr. Morris for respecting others’ opinions, but standing firm on his own beliefs.

Rev. Edmond said Mr. Morris was fiercely independent, and wished to be more active than he could be in his later years.

He served as the treasurer for the nearby chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, was a member of the local Freemason lodge and American Legion, and became the first African-American president of the Southold Rotary in 1986. He earned the organization’s Paul Harris Fellow award.

Services for Mr. Morris were held Friday morning at the Shiloh Baptist Church. He will be interred at Calverton National Cemetery with U.S. Navy honors.

He is predeceased by his brothers Vincent, Levi and Clarence and sister Alice Tucker.

He is survived by his sisters, Eleanor Lingo and Virginia Draper; his wife Nan; his three children and their spouses; three grandchildren; four great-grandchildren and two great-great-grandchildren as well as many other family and friends.

Memorial donations can be made in his honor to the Association of Help for Retarded Children Suffolk.