Gary Morris

Obituary of Gary Walter Morris

Gary W. Morris passed away peacefully in Tacoma on May 9, 2024. He was 81.

Gary was born in 1943 to Mildred Knott and Alexander McBeath Jr., and enjoyed an idyllic early childhood in East Tacoma, surrounded by grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins living all within a few blocks of one another. Tragically, ailments and injuries in the ensuing years prematurely took the lives of many, including his father who was fatally injured in a truck/train accident in 1947. His widowed mother married Stanley Morris in 1952, resulting in a family name change to Morris. The family moved to Fox Island, and Gary graduated from Peninsula High School in 1961. He married his first wife, Patricia Hayes, in 1967, and became a devoted and loving father to two children. 

Gary pursued a self-proclaimed “jack of all trades” approach to his career and hobbies. He completed electrical training and worked as a home appliance repairman from 1963-1968. He performed in a rock band as lead drummer. He served in the U.S. Army and Army Reserves from 1968-1973, completing basic, X-ray, and medic training. He hauled mobile homes from 1970-1976 as an independent truck driver, and then bought and managed a fleet of trucks and drivers at City Delivery from 1977-1984. He balanced these occupations with hobbies in sailboat racing and flying. His opening of a car repair business in the 1980s supported raising his two growing children, by then as a single father. The business also financed a racing hobby that started with go-carts, continued with rally cars throughout the beautiful forests and logging roads of Western Washington, and culminated in a semi-professional, sponsored ride up the 1994 Colorado Pikes Peak Hill Climb, placing 3rd in his class after covering the 14,115 foot elevation, 12.4 mile road in just over 13 minutes. Although these activities created many fond memories for him and his children, after a few final gigs as behind-the-scenes TV commercial stunt driver, Gary retired from cars and racing altogether, and focused on more mellow forms of work and recreation. He transformed his car repair business into marine and boat repair. Having married in his words, the “love of his life” a few years earlier in a second marriage, the pair started several ventures including videography for the then-emerging high definition stock video footage market, the delivery of guest speeches on heart health, the development of a defensive driving course, and beekeeping. He also connected with his Scottish heritage by joining three consecutive pipe bands in the Puget Sound area, and performed in parades, weddings, and other venues as a bagpiper and bass drummer. He loved music, and he loved his family.

He is survived by his wife of over 30 years, Rebecca; his children, Christopher and Katrina and their respective spouses, Linda and Jeff; and grandsons Alex, Henry, James, and Sam, all of whom reside with or near their parents in Maryland. At Gary’s request, there will be no formal funeral, but an informal ceremony at Fox Island Cemetery will be held at a future date.

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