In Remembrance: Nampa woman had great sense of humor

At the age of 16, Ethel ‘Nina' Morris traveled to California and married her G.I. pen pal

Idaho StatesmanFebruary 11, 2007 

Ethel "Nina" Morris never let go of her inner child. She was known by family to always dress in wild costumes for Halloween, much to the delight of her grandchildren and trick-or-treaters who came to her door.

"Just listening to the stories that everyone talks about, she was a funny lady," daughter-in-law Babs Morris said.

Morris, a Nampa resident, died Jan. 23 at age 77 of natural causes.

The fourth of six children, Morris was born in Boise to longtime Idaho residents. She grew up in a house on Grant Street near the Boise Depot, according to family.

Growing up, Morris participated in ballet and tap dance. She was known to be quite flexible, sometimes fascinating — and frightening — her family with her contorts, Babs Morris said.

"She was so flexible she could sit on her head, but she couldn't do that after she was married because it made her husband mad," Babs Morris said.

At age 14, Morris began working in the Post Exchange at Gowen Field, becoming a pen pal to overseas servicemen during World War II. One pen pal, George "Kelley" Morris, would become more than a pen pal as the two continued to correspond during the war. After the war, at the age of 16, she purchased a one-way bus ticket to visit her pen pal in California, who gave her the nickname "Nina." Two weeks later, the pair married in Las Vegas.

The couple moved back and forth between California and Idaho, before Morris' homesickness bought them back to Idaho in the mid 1980s.

Morris occasionally took jobs tending bar, but mostly she focused on her job as mother and wife, according to her son, Kelly Morris.

He recalled his favorite moments spent with his mother.

"Sitting around listening to her tell us stories that happened to her growing up, hard times and good times during the Depression, but most of all, the story of how she met and married my father," Kelly Morris said.

According to Kelly Morris, his mom was a caring person who often took in relatives and even strangers, giving them food and lending an ear to their problems. Though caring, Morris could be strict and taught her children the value of hard work.

"She taught us to work hard for what you believe in and to not be afraid to take chances. She said, ‘Life is what you make of it, so don't blame anyone for things going bad, except yourself. Bad events in your life are nothing more than learning experiences and opportunities,' " Kelly Morris said.

Morris' deteriorating health didn't stop her from remembering her friends and loved ones, according to her son.

"Right up to her last few days she never forgot her loved ones and people along with their names, who had made an impact or influenced her, from childhood to adult."

In Remembrance is a weekly profile on a Treasure Valley resident who has recently passed away. Contact West Treasure Valley news assistant Kristi Coffman at kcoffman@idahostatesman.com or 672-6742.

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