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John William Morrison was born in Philadelphia to Rev. John and Florence Morrison. His youth was lived in this big city, enjoying the adventures playing in the streets lined with row houses. Because his mother had been born in China to medical missionaries, Bill’s own family home was often host to Chinese students and guests. His interest in music which developed into a career goal began with his singing alto as a ten year old in the church choir. When he was a high school sophomore his father took a pastorate in Hobart, Indiana, and Bill transferred from a school of 5000 to one with a fifth as many students, where he was welcomed as a trumpeter in the band and soloist in the choir. During these summers Bill participated in the music program of Camp of the Woods in Schenectady, NY.
Having graduated high school in 1959, Bill entered Wheaton College, IL, majoring in music education. While doing their laundry in their dorm, he and three other freshmen formed a vocal quartet and a friendship that has endured throughout their lives. As the “63 Quartet” they performed for college and area events, and continued to sing together as recently as their 50th college reunion. During his junior year another significant relationship was formed when he met Beverly Hogberg, who was to become his wife for just short of 60 years. They married after graduation and immediately began graduate work at MSU. With his MA in voice, Bill and Bev moved to Grand Rapids where he began his teaching career at Riverside Middle School. Tired of receiving a pink slip each of three years as a music teacher, he moved to the new Northeast School of Creative Arts and began a 32 year career teaching middle school English, other courses as the need arose, and at times coaching wrestling until he retired in 1994. After two years of substitute teaching, he settled into full time work at Our Daily Bread Ministries where he worked for the next 20 years eventually retiring as a volunteer Service Partner. Although music was no longer a career for Bill, he turned his talent into an avocation singing not only in the church choirs but in the Grand Rapids Opera Chorus, GR Symphonic Choir, and the Bach Choral.
Wherever they lived, Bill was known as the neighbor with the lovely flower beds. Gardening was a hobby second only to that of photography which offered a life time of enjoyment both in the taking pictures of travels and family experiences and also in the compilation of photos into books capturing memories of trips which could be relived especially during his last year when pulmonary fibrosis no longer allowed him to travel. As a couple he and Bev shared a joy in educational travel experiencing cultures and landscapes ranging from China east to The Hebrides, south to New Zealand, north to the Arctic Circle. Adventure travels and family visits included Europe, the Mid East, and the USA.
Bill was a man with a servant heart. He delivered lunches for Kids’ Food Basket, packing 14 large bins in his little car. No matter the time of day or night, he was willing to help a friend or neighbor. An example of his regard for others before himself came through the gift of a kidney to a friend which extended the recipient’s life by 19 years. Bill loved his family, making time to share in the lives of his own children and then the lives of his grandchildren. Although distance prevented frequent contact with them, Bill and Bev created special memories with their grandchildren through visits and travels.
Bill’s love for his savior Jesus Christ was exemplified in his love for family and care for friends. During his last months of life, Bill often expressed appreciation for his wife’s devotion as his caregiver.
Bill accepted his illness with dignity and a calm attributed to a strong Christian faith and belief in the promise of John 14: 2& 3. “In my father’s house are many mansions, and if I go to prepare a place for you, I will came back again and take you to myself, so that where I am you also may be.”
Left to cherish his memory are his wife, daughter Heather (Kris) Anderson of Wheaton, Ill, son Hans (Jen) Morrison of Franklin, MA, grandsons Martin, Ethan, Niklas Anderson, and granddaughters Fiona, Brynn, and Neve Morrison. In addition, he is survived by a brother Robert Morrison, sister-in-laws Judy Hogberg, Maren Vornholt, several cousins, nieces, and nephews. A memorial visitation for Bill will be held on Friday, March 24, 2023, from 3:00 to 5:00 pm at Metcalf & Jonkhoff Funeral Home. A memorial service will be held on Saturday, March 25th, 1:30 pm, at Thornapple Covenant Church, 6595 Cascade Rd. SE, Grand Rapids, MI 49546.
Memorial Gifts may be sent to; Our Daily Bread Ministries or Kids’ Food Basket of Grand Rapids.