Montigue Morris (Monty) was never happier than when he was sailing, reading about sailing, talking about sailing or working on sailboats. Monty died at home in Marblehead on Jan. 23 with his wife Betsy and son Peter beside him. He was 89.
Monty and Betsy were married in 1962, and in their 4th-floor walk-up apartment in Greenwich Village, Monty built their first sailboat, a 12-foot catamaran, constructed in their 12-foot living room. It was a terrible sailing vessel, but it was the start of a lifetime love affair that led them to Marblehead in January 1967 and their first real boat – a townie, of course.
Monty grew up in Kingston, Pennsylvania, and Brooklyn, New York, graduating from Brooklyn Technical High School and Brown University. He served in the U.S. Army during the tail end of the Korean Conflict, stationed in Hokkaido, Japan. He worked for IBM and other computer companies until 1975, when he and Betsy went into business for themselves, building new houses and renovating old ones in and around Marblehead. In 1983 at age 50, he received a bachelor’s degree in architecture from Boston Architectural Center.
Always creative and forever adventuresome, he and Betsy built a ski house in Vermont with their own hands and without power tools, as the property was not then connected to the electric grid. They brought up their three kids – Tom, Peter and Chrissy – on ski mountains, in sailboats, and exploring the jewels of Boston, other countries, and the endearing literature of childhood. He fostered his kids’ love of stories, films, music and art. Monty’s heritage was 100 percent Welsh, of which he was very proud. Maybe that’s why he had a wonderful tenor voice and adored singing harmony; he was an avid reader, particularly of history, and his boundless memory held everything he read. And he skied until his 88th year.
Their biggest adventure started upon retirement in 1993 when they sailed out of Marblehead harbor toward the Caribbean (by way of Newfoundland). They spent five years living aboard SALSA, completing two circumnavigations of the Caribbean, spending the bulk of those years in Venezuela, Colombia, Panama, Cuba and Guatemala. Twelve months were spent at Ak’ Tenamit working as full-time volunteers, side-by-side with Mayan workers on an education and health care project up a jungle river in Guatemala. They were dismasted off Nicaragua in a ferocious storm, had snakes aboard – twice – and adored (almost) every minute.
Monty was pre-deceased by his daughter, Christina Drew. He is survived by his wife, Betsy; his sons, Tom and Peter; his grandchildren, Dan, Nicole, Zander, and Maia; and his great-granddaughter, Leya.
In lieu of flowers, please offer donations to Ak’ Tenamit through the Guatemala Tomorrow Fund at www.https://thegtfund.org/. Fond memories and expressions of sympathy may be shared at http://www.eustisandcornellfuneralhome.com for the Morris family.