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My Dad - C. E. Morphis

Charles Eugene Morphis, 92, of Jonesboro, passed away on Monday August 18, 2008, at his home. He was born in Pocahontas TN on April 1, 1916, to Charles and Ida Morphis. Mr. Morphis was a manufacturer’s representative and habadasher with Langenburg Hat Company where he designed hats for stars such as Elvis, Charlie Daniels, Loretta Lynn among many others. He was a Mason and a former president of US Men's and Boy's Apparel Club. He was a sergeant in the Army and served in World War II and was awarded five battle stars. He was a proud patriot and a member of Walnut Street Baptist Church.

He leaves behind his two sons, Gene Morphis of Ambler PA and Gary Morphis of New Orleans LA; a daughter, Stephanie Wilbanks of Jonesboro; two brothers, Leonard Morphis of Selmer TN and Rayde Morphis of Pocahontas TN; two sisters, Maxine Firnhaber of Huntington IN and Sadie Foster of Pocahontas TN; seven grandchildren, Blane, Misty, Blake, Josalyn, Cree, Jillian and Dusty; and three great grandchildren, Tyler, Zachery and Lilly.

He was preceded in death by his wife, Sylvia; two brothers and two sisters.

My comments at the funeral:

Dr. Charles Stanley, the noted minister from Atlanta, was one of my Dad's favorits. Dr. Stanley says "Absent from the body; present with The Lord". So, Dad isn't here today - at least not directly - because he never liked funerals. For my Dad's taste, one song, maybe two, a prayer, and that's that. Sorry Dad, I'm going to stretch it out a little.
A few years ago Pam and I were at a funeral. And while the woman who had passed was a Methodist, she had a Catholic granddaughter who place a rosary in her casket. I said to Pam that if someone placed a rosary with my Dad, he would sit straight up in the coffin until someone removed it. When I related that story to Dad later, he grinned that smile he sometimes had adn said "well, you could always give that a try".
My parents taught me everything I needed to be prepared for life. My Dad inculcated in me (catch that word) his love of the English language, a thought-provoking sentence, the perfect word in the perfect place. Many a time he called to read something to me that had a great phrase. Generally from a conservative write: Pat Buchanan, Thomas Sowell, George Will or his favorite: William F. Buckley. As his vision faded, he could no longer check meanings, so he would call me to confirm a usage. Recently he called to make sure he was using "inchoate" and "sartorial" correctly. Look 'em up yourself.
So when you are wondering whether the word you are looking for is sanguine or sanguinary, or pondering the epistomology of etymolgy, or the etymology of epistomlogy, just remember that you once knew someone, who, with a twinkle in his eye, could tell you the difference.

Matthew 6:19: Do not store up riches for yourselves on earth where moths and rust destroy and robbers break in and steal. Instead, store up riches in heaven...

Revalations 21:18 and 21:21. The wall was made of jasper and the city itself was made of pure gold. The twelve gates were twelve pearls, each gate was made from a single pearl. The street of the city was of pure gold, transparent as glass.

Here in this world people might marvel at Larry Ellison's Japanese-architecture compound or Bill Gates digital estate. But today in Paradise, they are marveling at the mansions on Lumsden Lane, Sanders Ave., adn Morphis Boulevard. And I know we are all welcome to come visit.

Blane's comments at the funeral:
My relationship with GD (granddad) was a special one and it was a special one because it changed so much over the course of my lifetime.

When I was just a young boy –granddad man he was larger than life. Driving around in that big green Cadillac, grilling up a family feast on the weekend, taking Blake and I fishing – even though he hated it—and we would play at the park or go back to his house and play hide & seek and GD would never “find” us. Another vivid memory from childhood was that every single time we went to Granddads house – and it was always dark when we got there – he always left a light on for us.

Now, I think we all know how important a light being on in the dark is to little boys. I always thought Grandad left that light on for me so I could find my way without having to be scared. I just knew that Grandad was protecting me.

Then I grew and so did our family. I have one brother and 5 cousins and boy we used to have so much fun at Memaw & Granddaddy’s house. We climbed trees, had cap gun fights, played ball in the backyard or out on the circle, and we used to jump down the upstairs staircase to show off how brave and athletic we were. Granddad never seem to mind all of this action. Actually he enjoyed having all the kids around – so long as we didn’t use the “Yellow Sofa”!

Everyone remember the yellow sofa? For those of you that don’t know about the yellow sofa – it was a beautiful piece of furniture that no kid ( and adults either really) was allowed to sit on. And if you got caught – and sheew – if you had a drink in your hand – forget it. GD would have to assume a new role in addition to chef, fishing buddy, playmate and protector – he became Granddad the Disciplinarian. I know that my brother can testify to this: Yellow couch transgression = Swift Justice Granddad style. Blake, are you still having trouble when you sit down? Hey you earned that one pal. You knew better than to go near the yellow sofa!

Now please don’t get me wrong, granddad wasn’t a scary guy – well maybe to some of Steph’s boyfriends he chased out of the house with a rifle in his hands he was – be he and Memaw had rules and GD would enforce them. So there was another light he turned on for me – respect the rules of authority.

My granddad was a complex man, a gentleman, and everything a kid would want a grandfather to be. I mentioned earlier that our relationship changed over time and when I was a college student our relationship grew even more. Granddad’s role became much larger than before because he became a sounding board for me. Ideas good or bad we talked about so many things – life, politics, religion, the world – and I was always amazed at the grasp he had on so many issues. And I tell you the conversations meant so much to me then and mean so much to me now because granddad was a spirited debate partner and there were occasions when we didn’t see eye to eye, but because of the love and the respect we had for each other it was fine for us to agree to disagree.

After I got out of school, and was just trying to find my way – GD took another new role – listener and trusted advisor. He was a rock for me when my mom nearly died and I was questioning many things. GD was there for me. Still keeping a light on for me by demonstrating the strength he had, his commitment to his faith, in all the little things he said, all of the quiet conversations we had and common ground we always seemed to find.

TN Football. Me and granddad talked after every game on TV. Joy of winning – anguish of losing.

These last few years our relationship changed and granddad added another title to the previous ones of protector, chef, playmate, disciplinarian, spirited debater, trusted advisor, great listener and all around perfect grandfather – that t new title was – friend.

So we found ourselves talking about sports, marriage, history, spirituality, home ownership, and life and death. And we became such good friends because we shared so many viewpoints –more than in my college days I can promise you that! Now this may astonish you, but we even talked about today – literally where I’m standing right now giving his eulogy. Now I’m sure you’re thinking that must have been awkward – and you’re right – it was. But you have to understand that GD & I had never avoided a topic or pulled punches on a topic merely because it was uncomfortable. And I asked him if I could do this for a reason – because over the course of my lifetime – and in particular in the months leading up to me asking him if I could do this – he spoke so often about us. And by us I mean the grandchildren.

Grandad grew great inner strength from us. In the course of our conversations after memaw died he revealed to me that his grandkids kept him going. He was so thrilled to see some of us get married and to have met his great grandchildren – Tyler, Zachery and Lilly. And he was so proud of how his 7 grandchildren turned out.
So, I would like to conclude this by saying to: Misty, Cree, Dusty, Blake, Josalyn, and Jill that you’re the reason I did this. I feel responsible for ensuring that there is a light on for you to remember him by. I can’t emphasize enough that for the last 17 years the things he said to me in many different ways and on multiple occasions - but the message was always the same. You brought him joy and happiness and he appreciated how special and unique each of you are – and the challenges that each of your personalities presented to him. He told me that his grandchildren always made him feel proud and he hoped you knew that.

So remember this – he tried to turn the light on for all us with the lessons he taught, all the wisdom he imparted, and the kind and thoughtful gestures he made. And implore you to never forget that granddad cherished each and every one of you, respected you, and beyond anything he loved you.

He did his best to exemplify inner strength and to show what a life well lived was. I am happy for him right now because he is back with memaw – even though that doesn’t make it easier to be left behind. Just remember we the grandchildren had at least 20 years with our grandfather. Not a lot of people get that so we should consider ourselves lucky. I know that he did.


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