Editor's note: This is the first in a five-part series of articles honoring retired educators for Teacher Appreciation Week.
Centuries ago, Greek philosopher Aristotle made the intuitive observation of those who teach: "Educating the minds without educating the hearts is no education at all." His statement could easily have applied to the late Marjorie Morrow, who, after spending decades teaching second grade in the Russellville area, is still warmly remembered by former students and co-workers even years after her death.
Born in 1930 and raised in the small community of Enon, Morrow attended a nearby one-room school before finishing her education at Russellville. Sadly, her 52-year-old mother died during the latter half of her junior year of school in 1946.
The May 30, 1947, edition of the Daily Capital News reported "there was an overflow crowd for the graduation exercise held in the school auditorium," where Morrow was the valedictorian among her 17 classmates at Russellville.
Choosing to pursue her interest in education, she began attending Central Missouri State College in Warrensburg. In 1950, she continued to demonstrate her scholastic aptitude when inducted into the Alpha Phi Delta sorority, honoring female students who had high personal qualities and earned good grades.
While attending summer sessions in college, she also received educational experience and a modest income through teaching at the former one-room Enon School. This busy time of her life was complicated after her brother, more than a decade older, perished in an unexpected tragedy.
"Vernon Morrow was killed when his car collided with a trailer truck on Highway 66, near the Villa Ridge cutoff, early Sunday morning," reported the Washington Missourian in an article dated May 11, 1950. "His remains were taken from the undertakers in Union to his home in Russellville for burial," the article added.
"I grew up in California, Missouri, so I only knew Marjorie for the last 28 years of her life," said Tina Dearixon-Weber. "After the tragedy of losing her brother, I believe that is part of the reason she may have never married and had children, because she felt that she needed to be with her father."
Consolidation of smaller school districts resulted in the closing of Enon and other local one-room schools, but in late summer 1954, while still a student at Warrensburg, Morrow was hired to teach the fourth-grade class at Russellville. The following school year, she taught the second-grade class, continuing to do so for the next few decades.
"When I was in early elementary school, she was my teacher and rode our school bus to school for a while," Wanda Larimore said. "She lived on her mom's and dad's farm outside of Enon and was always very calm in nature."
Her attendance in summer courses resulted in her earning a bachelor's degree in elementary education in 1956. Through all the busyness of her own studies and teaching, Morrow remained a dedicated member of the Enon Baptist Church, using her talents as a pianist to support the music ministry of the congregation.
Maribeth Russell, who taught at Russellville schools for many years, said Morrow not only attended parties and get-togethers with fellow teachers outside of school, but willingly lent her talents for special events.
"When I got married, I asked her to play piano at our wedding ceremony, and she did a lovey job," said Russell. "She was always the life of the party and could bring a smile to your face."
Russell added, "She was an excellent teacher, I know that for a fact. I would often overhear high school students talking about who their favorite teacher was and, time and time again, their response was Ms. Morrow in the second grade."
A student in the second-grade class during the 1973-1974 school year, Gina Linsenbardt Prosch recalled the fond memories of Morrow reading excerpts of the book "Heidi" to the class after lunch and the youthful comments made by classmates regarding their teacher's name.
"Her middle name was Marie and I remember that a bunch of us girls thought it was neat that all of her names started with 'M,'" said Linsenbardt Prosch. "We joked that she probably didn't want to get married since she might have to change her name to something that started with another letter."
Jana Thompson began teaching first-grade classes at Russellville in 1974. Excited about the new opportunity, she quickly came to respect Morrow while also discovering that her co-worker was unrestrained from sharing any thoughts on her mind.
"As a new teacher, we received our indoctrination and were told to dress professionally," said Thompson. "I remember walking down the hall with Mrs. Morrow — and I called her that for the longest time — while wearing nice clothes with a skirt. She turned to me and said, 'That skirt is way too short for you.'"
Mirthfully, Thompson added, "I never wore that skirt again."
Thompson noted that a previous first-grade teacher had not adequately prepared her students to enter the second-grade level, much to Morrow's dismay. Realizing she was facing a high-bar of assessment for academic achievement, Thompson was pleased by comments she received at the end of her first school year.
"Marjorie wanted me to do well and send her kids that were ready," said Thompson. "At the end of my first year, she told me I had done a good job, which meant a lot to me."
Morrow retired from Russellville in 1991 and, like many in retirement, suffered with some health problems during the last few years of her life. On March 6, 2014, the 83-year-old former educator died and was laid to rest in Enloe Cemetery near Russellville.
With a fondness cultivated from years of friendship, Maribeth Russell remarked, "She definitely had high expectations of her kids in the classroom because, when you have such expectations, she knew that the kids would rise to meet them.
"Her classroom environment was also well controlled, but the students loved her, and she was very much respected by her peers."
Jeremy P. Amick writes on behalf of the Silver Star Families of America.