Frank Morriss, longtime Wanderer contributing editor and Catholic defender of the faith, has died at his home in Wheat Ridge, Colo., on January 25, 2014.
Morriss was born March 28, 1923 in Pasadena, Calif., the son of B.G. Morriss and Regina Spann Morriss. He spent most of his life in Denver. He married Mary Rita Moynihan on February 11, 1950; she preceded him in death, as did his daughter Regina (Sr. Mary John) Morriss. His surviving children are Patricia Bateman (Louie) of Wichita, Mary Ellen Hill (Jeff) and Gerard both of Denver, and his grandson, Lee Francis Hill, also of Denver.
Morriss held a doctoral degree in law (JD) from Georgetown University and a doctorate in journalism, as well as an undergraduate degree in philosophy and literature from Regis College, Denver, where he graduated magna cum laude.
Between his studies at Regis and Georgetown, he enlisted in the Army in 1942. He was in active duty from 1943-1945. His rank was an S/Sgt. He was in the battles and campaigns of the Northern Solomons and Southern Philippines. He was awarded medals for Asiatic Pacific Service, Philippine Liberation Ribbon with one Bronze Star. He also received the World War II Victory Medal and Good Conduct Medal. He was with the first troops that were in Occupied Japan. His last manuscript, Memoirs of a Reluctant Soldier, was completed in 2013.
Frank Morriss was a writer, columnist, and teacher. He taught on the college and adult levels for over 25 years and taught religion for over 30 years at Colorado Catholic Academy in Denver, a private Catholic school which Morriss founded in 1970.
He authored a number of books for children as well as many for adults. Among his works are The Divine Epic, The Catholic as Citizen, The Forgotten Revelation, The Conservative Imperative, A Little Life of Our Lord, The Divine Epic, Saints in Verse, Two Chapels: Newman and the Case for Modern Martyrdom, Francis Thompson: A Reflection on the Poetic Vocation, Boy of Philadelphia, and Submarine Pioneer.
Morriss worked as a journalist beginning in 1949. He served as editor of the Register Newspapers at the Denver Catholic Register and then the National Catholic Register, Denver, from 1949 to 1961. From 1961-1963 Morriss served as associate editor of the Vermont Catholic Tribune, Burlington. He was founding editor of Twin Circle, a national Catholic newspaper originating in the late 1960s.
He was perhaps best known as contributing editor of The Wanderer, from 1967 to 2007. As such, his editorials and his fiction appeared weekly in The Wanderer. His newspaper writing has been honored by awards from the Freedoms Foundation. He was active on the Board of the Wanderer Forum Foundation (now no longer affiliated with The Wanderer), and served as a policy expert for the Heritage Foundation. In 2003 Morriss received the Frederic Ozanam Award, from the Society of Catholic Scientists.
Perhaps Morriss’ life is best summed up in a short book he published in 2008 Francis Thompson: A Reflection on the Poetic Vocation, where Morriss discusses Thompson’s famous Hound of Heaven, saying that “it describes this age, the whole age is in flight from God . . . you can reach the moon, but that won’t satisfy you because the whole universe, if scientists are right, will be gone someday.” Morriss concludes: “The only thing left will be our relationship with our Creator.”
May Frank find that ultimate rest which he so confidently proclaimed. In the words of St. Paul, “He has fought the good fight, he has finished the race, he has kept the faith.”
A longer obituary will appear later this week, both on the web site and in the print edition of The Wanderer (February 6, 2014).