Mar 28, 2006
Liberty’s unknown Henry Morris greenhouse
by Tanya Whelly
Retired nurseryman Henry Morris moved from New Jersey to Lynchburg in the late 70s, bringing with him his love of gardening to the campus of Liberty University.
The multi-millionaire donated his time and money in order to make Liberty’s grounds attractive, building a greenhouse that was later named after him.
“He’d say, ‘we need some plants,’” said Grounds Manager Randy Johnson, a long-time friend and co-worker of Morris. Every time a new building was built on campus, Morris was there with flowers or shrubs.
“In those early days, he was basically responsible for all of the plant material that was used on campus,” said Johnson.
Morris, who moved to Lynchburg in order to be close to Dr. Jerry Falwell’s ministry, took it upon himself to make the grounds of Liberty’s campus attractive. In the early 80’s, he purchased 250 barefooted Maple trees for Liberty. When he was questioned about why he chose the Maple tree, he would say that he wanted to see the trees get some size to them before he died.
“If he saw that we had a need for something, he helped us,” said Johnson.
As Morris got older, he never stopped doing the work he loved. When he was no longer able to drive, his wife would drop him off at Liberty everyday, he would have a cup of coffee, and then go to work planting flowers or just helping out. To those who worked maintenance with him, he was a fun-loving guy.
In addition to working on the grounds, Morris used his money to put several pastoral students through school at Liberty.
Before Morris passed away in the late 80s, he made it possible to keep helping fund Liberty’s grounds long after his death by setting up a fund which would pay about $1200-$1300 in interest to Liberty’s maintenance department each year for plant material. However, because of mechanical problems with heating and cooling of the greenhouse, Morris’s nursery was not sustained very long after his death.
“We didn’t have the resources to deal with it,” said Johnson. Even so, the grounds of Liberty University bear testament to a man who used his energies and abilities for the sake of others.
“He helped us out in so many ways,” said Johnson.
Contact Tanya Whelly at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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