Let the memory of Morris be with us forever
  • 64 years old
  • Born on December 9, 1948 in Jersey City, New Jersey, United States.
  • Passed away on November 18, 2013 in San Antonio, Texas, United States.

Morris F. Johnson III, 64, died in San Antonio, Texas, November 18, 2013, ater a courageous struggle with Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS), more commonly known as Lou Gehrig"s disease.  Morris was born December 9, 1948 in Jersey City, New Jersey, the beloved son of Morris F. Johnson Jr. and Willie Mae (Hodge) Johnson.  Morris attended the public schools in Jersey City, graduating from Snyder High School in 1968. He graduated with a BA in sociology from Dubuque College, Dubuque, Iowa and received a Masters in Social Work from the University of Iowa, Iowa City.

Morris was a proud member of Omega Psi Phi Fraternity and was fondly known as Billy D. Hollywood because of this style and resemblance to actor Billy D. Williams.  Morris loved life and lived life.  He was fun loving and had a circle of friends who shared his love and optimism of life.  He was devoted to the National Council on Black American Affairs and the American Association of Community Colleges.  He travelled internationally most notably in China, and the Caribbean.

Morris served as President of St. Louis Community College, Forest Park, St. Louis, Missouri, Vice President, Student Affairs and Interim President at Phoenix College, Phoenix, Arizona, and Associate Dean of Student Services at the Des Moines Area Community College, Urban Campus.  While in Iowa and Arizona he served on vaious State Commissions and local boards and was active in the community. He attended church faithfully at Mount Olive Baptist Church , Des Moines, Iowa, First Institutional Baptist Church, Phoenix, Arizona and Central Baptist Church, St. Louis, Missouri.

He leaves behind a son Grant Harrison of Phoenix, Arizona and stepdaughter Tausha Robertson of Austin, Texas, four Sisters Karen Johnson, Elisa Johnson, Winifred Johnson Mitchell, and Olivia Johnson, nephew Darren Leon James II, great aunt Edythe Jackson and a host of extended family members and friends.

The family thanks the staff and medical team of the ALS Clinic at the University of Texas Health Science Center, San Antonio and the staff of the Texas ALS Asociation for the wonderful compassionate care they povided during his fight with ALS.  Memorials gifts may be directed to the  ALS Foundation http:/www.alsa.org/donate/

Posted by Lynn Mary on 19th November 2017
My thoughts always go to Morris when I need guidance. He was not only my boss for 16 years, he is my adopted brother. We always have someone in our lives we respect and listen too - that was Morris for me. His memory will ever be within me. Thank you Johnson family for sharing MoJo with me.
Posted by Crystal GKill on 10th May 2017
I love Morris. He never allowed me to be complacent. He encouraged my soul when no one else could. He also pushed me to be a better person, friend, and parent. When I began teaching at the college here in Arizona, I called Morris to ask him questions about nearly everything. He was the voice of reason and would set my mind straight. When he passed, I lost more than a confidante, I would in my preparations, think to myself, "...what would Morris do?" He was the best in preparing for everything. But, this continues to be my guide, because I can no longer call him and cry about my own insecurities. He made me feel strong and able. I channel that and feel loved and connected to him. I still see him in my dreams. And sometimes, I smell that cucumber melon or white tea & ginger scent...and I know he's become an angel.
Posted by John Mercer on 18th November 2016
When the cubs won the world series this year I thought of Morris. He loved baseball and we spent many hours talking about the local Arizona team. Morris was a class act and I am proud to call him a friend.
Posted by John Mercer on 20th November 2015
Morris was a good man. he was dedicated to education and his personality was a key to his success. I'm proud to have worked with him and our friendship was solid. Everyone at Phoenix College enjoyed his sense of humor and his positive attitude. we all benefited by knowing Morris Johnson. John Mercer
Posted by Oti Dleon on 12th August 2015
My name is Alicia De Leon. I am currently a Ph.D. Candidate at the University of Utah. My journey into higher education was ignited, bridged, critically enhanced/supported by my Mentor/Friend/Academic Family which is Morris F. Johnson III. TODAY I FIND OUT HE HAS PASSED (August 12, 2015) and I my tears, colored by laughter overflow tonight. Morris has been nudging at me in my dreams...I know he's visited and tonight was critical because after reading a chapter in the book titled Subversive Dialogues I turned on the TV. Jimmy Fallon had a special musical guest: Yolanda Adams. Her performance began at the time I turned on the TV and my memory went directly to Morris. He recorded a cassette tape with gospel music that was empowering, loving, inspirational. Morris recorded the song titled, "Open My Heart" by Yolanda Adams. After her performance tonight I googled Morris's whereabouts---thinking I would be unsuccessful as I had been in the last 3years. Yet tonight I immediately found his whereabouts, In Spirit...VISITING ME in my dreams, thoughts, and now thru music DURING THE MOST CRITICAL MOMENTS OF MY DOCTORAL PROGRAM---cheering me on, giving love, making me laugh via the spiritual realm. Wow. I am so grateful to have engaged with him on a personal and professional level for 2years while I went to Pheonix College and obtained my AA degree. Ive never forgotten him and searched for him during my doctoral program to tell him where I am in my journey. We lost touch a few months before I obtained my MA at UCLA in 2008. My heart is heavy as well. When I read his sister's, Karen Johnson, remarks of his words--"I still got dip in my hip, pep in my step, and glide in my stride" I lauged aloud because that's his swagger I experienced when he was the Dean and Interim President at Phoenix College. He brightened my days and lightened up my load by listening how I experienced racism/microaggressions in higher ed. I am very thankful and blessed to have had him in my life journey. Sending peace and love to his family. Morris Quotes: "MacDaddy Mo" "You want a Koolaid Life or a Champagne Life?"
Posted by Linda Jones Hicks on 3rd June 2015
A special message to The Johnson family. I recently discovered the news of my friends departure. I was deeply saddened. There are so many great memories I shared in our past; college, hopes and challenges. Karen thank you for this beautiful memory page. My prayers are continually for you and family. He will be greatly missed. Jonesey
Posted by ARLICE THOMPSON on 10th December 2014
It has been a year since Morris passed and I think about him every sunday when I'm at church sitting in our section that we shared. I remeber how he would nudge me when Pastor Scott would say any visitors please stand up... Too funny.. A crazy sense of humor and everybody that sat in our section knew him for this. When the Pastor started preaching all fun times will be halted bc of him taking the word in and writing. He is Gone but not Forgotten......
Posted by ARLICE THOMPSON on 31st December 2013
I knew I was leaving to go to ATL for the Thanksgiving Holiday and since I had not communicated with Morris I decided to send him an email on Novemeber 21,2013 and in the email I stated I hope he was doing alright and that I would try again. So I called him at the number he had given me the last time I seen him and I did not get an answer.He never told me that he had ALS in fact when I saw him last was at church with his big sister Karen. We embraced and he said keep in touch. You see Morris had passed already when I sent the email and called and left the message. I did not find out about him passing until December 7 when Pastor scott mentioned his Memeorial service not sure I heard it right so I grabbed Deacon Bailey and at that time he confirmed it. I tell you I was in total disbelief but, to have him reach out to me was him telling me good bye. It's amazing to me that he did. He was a crazy guy with a funny sense of humor always saying something crazy to me on Sunday(s) at Central Baptist Chuch. I am going to miss Morris and will never forget how his spirit touched mines to reach out tome after he left. I was given his obituary by Deacon Bailey and this is how I got to this page so I send out my deepest condolenses to the family for your loss and I will always remember Morris.
Posted by John Mercer on 7th December 2013
I first met Morris when he was hired as an administrator at phoenix college. Over the years we developed a strong friendship and I was proud to call Morris my friend. When he left phoenix college to go to St Louis many of the faculty were sad because he was one of the best administrators we had. I'm going to miss his positive attitude and his great sense of humor. John Mercer - " See you later Morris- in a different place and a different time. God bless you and your family."
Posted by Linda Kurth on 4th December 2013
Morris was a fun-loving and very caring person. He made everyone whom he came in contact with smile and/or laugh. He will live on in the hearts of those he touched. God's peace for his family. Linda Kurth, Phoenix College Faculty (1984-2007)
Posted by James Bennett on 4th December 2013
Morris became my friend when we first met back in 1986. We worked together, laughed together, and devoted countless hours to the enhancement of WRCBAA/NCBAA and the empowerment of the Councils' membership. When I last visited with Morris no time was spent dealing with ALS, but reminiscing about all of the good times that life had afforded us. I won't miss my bro because he will always be in my heart. WESTSIDE!!,
Posted by Lynn Mary on 4th December 2013
My heart is heavy and tears have welled up in my eyes every time I think of my friend Morris. He was such a wonderful person, his sense of humor was evident every day of his almost 65 years on earth. I worked with him for 16 years at Phoenix College. His friendship will always be treasured. Morris was a sensitive, intelligent and honorable man, we are all better for having known him. Go with God.
Posted by Karen Johnson on 1st December 2013
Morris, was diagnosed with ALS 3 years ago. As he told many, I kidnapped him and moved him from St. Louis here to San Antonio.two years ago. Over the last two years, I watched him deal will his disease with humor, courage,curiosity and faith. Although each month a decline in his muscle strength and physical abilities was evident, he did not wallow in self pity, instead he would tease and joke. Often when answering his phone he would say "Popeyes' Chicken....do you want a slap happy meal?'' When the San Antonio Spurs lost the NBA Finals to the Miami Heat he began wearing the Miami Heat NBA Champions Tee Shirt and Cap to his doctors' appointment. As the medical staff (all avid Spurs fans) looked askance at his attire Morris would gleefully remark "what's the matter, you can't stand the Heat --neither could the Spurs." Five days before he died he had an ALS Clinic appointment. While he was demonstrating his walking ability for the physical therapist he did an exaggerated swagger with a runway turn and stated "I still got dip in my hip, pep in my step and glide in my stride". I was blessed these last two years to have the opportunity to reconnect with my little brother and am thankful for the man he became. As I speak with friends and colleagues since Morris died, I am impressed by the depth of feelings expressed. Morris was a positive change agent in many lives, he made a difference and for that I am forever grateful.. As a sister, my prospective of Morris has been enriched by the stories his friends and colleagues have shared. It is my hope that this online memorial will continue that enrichment. ..

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