Dick Morris, a self-made man who was widely respected throughout the lakes area as a philanthropist and someone with strong convictions, died from heart complications on Thursday, March 31, at the age of 75.
Morris, a resident of Milford and owner and founder of Dick Morris Chevrolet in Commerce Township, was a pioneer in his day, becoming a Chevrolet dealer by the time he was 32-years-old.
At the time, General Motors’ 40-percent market share spurred Morris to seize the opportunity and buy the Taylor car dealership in Walled Lake during the late 1960s. By the early 1970s, it was had become so profitable that he was able to build the Commerce Township facility where it stands today.
“Becoming a dealer at such a young age was remarkable,” said his son, Rick Morris. “No one paved the way for him — he had no connections.”
Dick Morris Chevrolet was renamed Morris Motors in October 2010 as a result of the GM bankruptcy and restructuring.
In the community, Morris was instrumental in forming a single Lakes Area Chamber of Commerce by uniting individual chamber chapters.
“At the time, it was so rural out here and there weren’t enough viable businesses,” Rick Morris explained. “Dad recognized the need for a single chamber to serve the whole community.”
Morris was a behind-the-scenes man, donating money to various charities, needy individuals and the Walled Lake Consolidated School District, all without seeking the limelight.
“He kept quiet about his personal charities,” Rick Morris said.
Morris’ personality was punctuated by his work ethic.
“When he came into a room, things happened. He liked to get things done,” Rick said. “He was highly organized and motivated.”
Some of that work ethic was ingrained in him during his U.S. Marine Corps service.
“He held that experience in high esteem and said it built character,” Rick said.
But it was Morris’ faith that sustained him and compelled his daily life, according to his son.
“He cherished his family and was a follower of our Lord, Jesus Christ,” Rick said. “Nothing he did on this earth was more important than accepting the Lord.”
When Morris could get away from the demands of a successful business, his greatest enjoyment was tending to the horses he bred and raised at his Milford horse farm.
“Horses gave him the most pleasure besides his family,” Rick Morris said. Horses fueled his passion and energy, and as an avid and insightful equestrian, Morris was known as a “horse whisperer” of sorts.
“He could do wonders with horses and their behavioral problems,” Rick Morris said. “If a horse had reluctance, he would study its mouth, neck and overall behavior and get that horse to do what no one else could.”
Rick Morris said that some of their finest father-and-son outings were scrimmaging at the Detroit Polo Club in Milford or in competitions across the Midwest.
“Those were great times,” Rick said.
As a testament to his father’s legacy, Rick Morris summarized him as a loving man who valued family, was highly religious, and was able to accomplish his goals with humility.