Morris, Carolyn

MORRIS, Rev. Carolyn W.

Reverend Carolyn W. Morris, 89, was called home on Friday, November 6 after a lengthy battle with Alzheimer's. Carolyn was born in Atlanta in 1931, the oldest child of Lewis Warner Willis and Georgette Covington Willis. She attended Girls' High until it merged with O'Keefe High School, where she met her future husband, William E. "Bill" Morris. Bill and Carolyn married in 1949, after Bill returned from his tour of duty with the U.S. Army Air Forces. They made their home in Atlanta, and Bill began his 29 year career as a Police Officer with the City of Atlanta. Carolyn was a loving and faithful wife to Bill for 48 years, until his death in 1997. As a devoted mother to their three children, Beverly, Jeff and Clay, Carolyn was a no-nonsense kind of mom, school and church came first, and precious few excuses would get you out of either, but she filled her home with love and laughter and the doors were always open to family and an ever-growing number of friends.

Having grown up at Grace United Methodist, Carolyn always remained active in the church. She shepherded her family to Skyland United Methodist where again, there was no excuse for ever missing a service, MYF or a family night supper. Carolyn volunteered countless hours to different ministries, before answering her own call to the ministry and began her journey to ordination. In 1979 she graduated from Emory's Candler School of Theology and began blazing a trail for women leadership in the Methodist Church. She was honored in 2009 with the Candler School of Theology Distinguished Alumni Award.

Carolyn had beautiful smile and a servant's heart. As wife and mother, she built a loving home for her husband and children and delighted as the family grew with spouses and grandchildren. She extended that love to the church and made a home with each United Methodist congregation she served, including Ebenezer, Trinity, North Decatur, and Oconee Street UMC in Athens, she cherished each of these congregations and was always humbled to serve them. Widely respected for her thoughtful, insightful leadership, Carolyn was appointed in 1991 as District Superintendent of the Athens-Elberton District, the first woman in that position in the North Georgia Conference of the United Methodist Church. Her faith was strong and her passion for sharing God's love and His word was infectious. Through her preaching, visitations, and officiating baptisms, weddings, and funerals, Carolyn graced thousands of lives, friends and family who will always be grateful for her presence in our lives and profoundly saddened by her passing. She was a mentor and role model to many women entering the ministry and helped them all through the hole in the stained-glass ceiling she made.

After Bill's death, Carolyn was blessed to find love again in her marriage to Reverend Herbert A. Owen in 1998. She and Herb both retired in Athens, where they continued to pastor on occasion and delighted in each other's company until his passing in 2015.

She was predeceased by her parents, sister, Winona Hulsey, sister, LeoDocia Risse, brother, Warner Willis, and sister-in-law, Bettye Willis. Carolyn is survived by her daughter, Beverly, of Braselton and sons, Jeff (Montyne) of Marietta, and Clay (Tish) of Norcross, grandchildren, Billy Jones, Claire Jones, Sarah Morris (Jimmy) and Will Morris, Herb's children and grandchildren, brothers-in-law, James Hulsey and Pete Risse, and several nieces and nephews.

Due to current conditions, the family will have a celebration of Carolyn's life, at Oconee United Methodist in Athens at a later date. In lieu of flowers, the family requests memorial contributions to the Alzheimer's Association or the United Methodist Children's home.