Richard Morris

Obituary of Richard Morris

Richard Morris, the beloved husband, father, son, brother and friend to many passed away peacefully, in hospice on June 7, 2023 after a long courageous battle with cancer.  His wife, Elizabeth, his son Gerald and daughter-in-law Liz, daughter Lauren and son-in-law James and daughter Nicole were by his side.  His beautiful spirit was ushered to heaven amidst sunshine and birdsong as his family bore witness. 

Richard was born on November 7, 1953 in Montego Bay, Jamaica, from humble beginnings.  In his formative years he learned the value of hard work, to care for the underdog,  he cultivated an appreciation for all things “spicy”  as well as his forever love for music.  It was in his early teens when he formed a band and recorded his first record.  These four characteristics would remain with him through his treasured life.  

As a young adult, Richard moved to Chicago, Illinois, where he worked night shifts to fund his education.  He graduated from the Chicago Technical College with a Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering.  While there, Richard also discovered a love of sports, playing as a running back for the college football team.  He would cheer raucously for any sport, and often for both teams, be it baseball, football, basketball and eventually even hockey.  It was during these formative years in Chicago where Richard learned the art of humility, allowing others to accept the praise, while quietly ensuring you always knew he had your back.

That degree eventually took Richard to Canada in the late 1970’s, where his love for the field of energy in all of its forms began.  Richard began an illustrious career in the energy industry with Ontario Hydro in 1982.  He was a nuclear engineer at the first nuclear power plant in Pickering, Ontario and eventually became a trainer for  plant operators.  From there he moved into marketing  promoting energy saving programs throughout the province.  He went on to manage the first Energy Efficiency Office for the City of Toronto, designing a trailblazing program to retrofit numerous buildings to make them more energy efficient.  The program not only benefited the environment but saved building owners hundreds of millions of dollars and created thousands of jobs. It was here that he designed and built a demonstration solar plant, windmill and hydrogen fueling station at Toronto Exhibition grounds. Richard was particularly proud of taking part in the creation of Ontario’s largest solar energy plant in 2007 and was interviewed and featured on the subject by Discovery Channel's Daily Planet. 

Richard worked tirelessly for a cause that he believed in – efficient and effective energy for the world.  He was an innovator - a man well ahead of his time.  He was accordingly acknowledged with many letters of recognition and awards including from the Toronto mayor, who lovingly crossed out “Mr. Morris” on the letterhead, and called him simply Richard.  In 1997, Environment Canada bestowed him with an Environmental Citizen recognition award. He was also a repeat recipient of the Federation of Canadian Municipalities Sustainable Communities Award for outstanding achievement in the renewal of buildings and energy infrastructure (2001 and 2008).  He made energy miracles happen, including evolving an abstract concept of a city-wide building improvement program into a working reality, and began a Better Building Partnership team that won a prestigious Award of Merit in 2008.  He went on to consult with the governments of Brazil and the UK on his designs and they subsequently implemented their own programs modeled after what they had learned from Richard’s work with the Better Building Partnership.

Richard had a lifelong passion for learning and education. He went on to complete a Sustainability Leadership Program from Schulich School of Business at York University, a post graduate diploma in Business and Economics from Wilfrid Laurier University, a Venture Capital and Private Equity Program from Harvard Business School and an Advanced Business Leadership Program from the University of Toronto. Up until a few months ago he was using DuoLingo to upgrade his Spanish!

While working at Ontario Hydro, Richard met his angel, Elizabeth in 1986.  She rounded out his personal life with her beautiful smile, love for life, boisterous family of 10 siblings, and a loving mother and father that would all become his family.  They were quick to recognize their love, building their first home together in 1987 and welcoming their beautiful children - Gerald in 1989, Lauren in 1991 and Nicole in 1993.  He never stopped working at being the best husband and father that he could be.  This was his true life's passion.  Nipigon Drive became a place of solace, games, laughter, music and community for their many family and friends for the next 30 plus years.   

In a few words, Richard was intelligent, curious, non-judgmental and full of life.  He always had a positive word to say for you, even when you did not deserve it and was careful to reserve his judgements.  Richard was a charismatic, visionary leader in a subtle, enabling way – never seeking the limelight, rather excited and satisfied that he was making a difference, and things were moving in the right direction.  It was with this humanity that Richard started an employment equity program at Ontario Hydro in the late 80’s, well ahead of the trend, to encourage and support hiring and promotion of women and minorities.  They went on to hire an employment equity officer and continued to consult with Richard and his team. 

Richard also served as a Board member for Ontario Centre for Environmental Technology Advancement (Bloom Centre), and the Pinball Clemons Foundation. He was appointed by the Ontario government to serve as a board member for Ontario’s Youth Challenge Fund, with a goal of helping to create opportunities for the province's most challenging youth communities.  For his efforts, Richard was awarded a Certificate of Recognition for his courageous leadership.

And somehow in all of this he never lost his love for music.  He filled the Nipigon home with song, belting out everything from My Girl by the Temptations to Old Town Road by Lil Nas X. Richard was also constantly writing down his own lyrics and had his song Idle Time independently produced during the pandemic.  Music was in Richard's soul, became a part of his spirit, and lives on forever.

We invite you to share in a Celebration in Remembrance of Richard on Friday, June 23 from 6 p.m. until 9 p.m., joining virtually by clicking THIS LINK HERE. Virtual guests are reminded to have their volume on high.

Please share your memories, photos and stories of Richard's life here at his memorial web page. Memorial Donations in Richard's name may be made to the Ian Anderson House Foundation by using the Donations tab on his home page.

Uniquely entrusted to eco Cremation & Burial Services Inc.

-Modern Funerals-