Boise says farewell to Velma V. Morrison

At a gala performance and tribute, Velma V. Morrison’s family announced her estate will continue her legacy of giving in Idaho

September 23, 2013 

“Mrs. Morrison, this is for you!” said Tony-winning vocalist Brian Stokes Mitchell, pointing to Morrison’s empty but illuminated box seat as he launched into a medley of tunes by her favorite composer, George Gershwin.

It was a show that Morrison would have loved to see in the theater that carries her name. Mitchell was backed by Robert Franz and the Boise Philharmonic.

Morrison, the widow of construction magnate Harry W. Morrison, became a great influence on the state of Idaho, its culture, politics, environment and education. Her contributions grew out of her compassion for others, love of family and of Idaho. She died in June at the age of 92.

And her legacy of giving will continue, said Justin Wilkerson, Morrison’s grandson and president of the Harry W. Morrison Foundation. Half of Velma Morrison’s estate — which is worth millions — will flow into the Harry W. Morrison Foundation and continue to offer grant money to fund projects in Idaho that range from Boise State’s campus to the panhandle.

Community leaders came together Sunday afternoon to share thoughts, give praise and tell stories about Morrison’s spark, energy and outspokenness. The speakers included Boise Mayor Dave Bieter, Boise State University President Bob Kustra, Treasure Valley YMCA CEO Jim Everett and family members.

Franz lovingly called her “Hurricane Velma” for the way she managed to get things done, and to get her way.

Bieter called her a great Boisean who understood the connection between business and pleasure.

Everett spoke of her sincere authenticity and desire to help the next generation.

“I wondered what the V stood for in her name,” he said. “I think it was ‘vision.’”

The program finished with Mitchell’s extraordinary performance of songs loved by Morrison, and others she never heard but nonetheless touchingly evoked her memory.

He sang the theme song of the Morrison Center building campaign “The Impossible Dream,” as well as “I’ve Grown Accustomed to Her Face” from her favorite show, “My Fair Lady,” and the American standard “What a Wonderful World,” which was dear to her heart.

There was not a dry eye in the house.

Dana Oland: 377-6442, Twitter: @IDS_DanaOland

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