Mrs. Gladys Morris, the matriarch of the Morris Family and owner of the Joe Morris and Son Funeral Home legacy, celebrated her 91st birthday and retirement from the funeral home business at the Pensacola Improv Event Center at 375 North Pace Boulevard, this past Sunday. The host for the celebration was David Hawkins, a 42 year Gulf Power Customer Service Manager and one-time WBOP radio personality known as David Ashley, who recently purchased the funeral home business from Mrs. Morris.
Dignitaries, well-wishers, pastors, family, and friends packed the Improv to honor the legacy of the Joe Morris and Son Funeral Home continued by Gladys Morris. She was known by her strength of purpose as she endured the deaths of her husband, son, daughter and grandson. Presentations were made by Escambia County Commissioner Lumon May and former County Commissioner Marie Young. The employees gave their personal testimonies and Will Easley, a native Pensacola musical artist provided a vocal tribute.
The new owner, David Hawkins, also gave a heartfelt tribute to Mrs. Morris going back to his childhood when he visited Pensacola during the summers on West Jackson around the corner from the Joe Morris family home on West Gadsden St. David went on to work in the funeral home in a part-time position only to develop a strong relationship with Joe Morris, Jr. and his mother Gladys.
The funeral home was founded by the Morris Family in 1913 and was eventually purchased by Joe Morris, Sr. from the Morris Family in 1965. Under his ownership the business was incorporated as the Joe Morris and Son Funeral Home as Joe Morris, Jr. became more involved with the management responsibilities. Joe Morris, Sr. passed away in December 1997. Joe Morris, Jr passed in 2007.
Hawkins in an interview with the Pensacola Voice highlighted the role of Alfred Stallworth, as General Manager and Licensed Funeral Director (LFD), who having been with the firm for approximately 50 years, went back to school to obtain a Mortuary Degree at the age of 49. Hubert Reynolds, another long-time employee, also carries the distinction as a Licensed Funeral Director (LFD). Cynthia Johnson serves as the Pre-Need and Customer Care Manager, Rosalind Maxwell serves as the funeral home’s Office Manager, and Dan Evans hold the position as Manager of Customer Service.