It probably was a warm and sunny October day on the 7th that this special child was born into the family of the late Denver and Onighter (Smith) Morris. She would be their last child, thus referred to as the “baby” by her three older sisters.
She was adored, certainly loved and for sure spoiled by all family members. As a result, she affectionately earned many nicknames, such as; Bunch, Curly Locks, Lacky and The Baby. A born entrepreneur, even at seven years old Jackie would charge our amazing father to clip his fingernails and mustache resulting in quite a large cache for a kid.
Always busy achieving and on the go, Jackie earned a Bachelors (BA) degree in Education and Speech Communication from Monmouth College, Masters (MSED) in Urban Education from K-State along with numerous other certifications. She went on to become a Reading and Language Arts elementary and secondary teacher in District 500 for 32 years, an adjunct professor at Johnson County Community College and the part-time bridal consultant for Halls Country Club Plaza and Crown Center. Let it be known that Jackie worked her consultant job for 40 years, having started in November 1979. Who other than Jackie could work a part-time job that long? Loving fashions, glamour and looking beautiful were for sure motivating factors, but that 40% discount she got is probably what sealed the deal.
Never a mother but always volunteering and working with children and in her community, Jackie, even with all her career endeavors, found time to work and chair on many different committees and organizations. Here are just a few: Dr. King Jr. Annual Birthday Celebrations; 20 years as a Big Eight and Big Twelve Conference Scholarship Host Committee Member; 10-year Cheerleader and Drill Team sponsor for the District; Debate Coach; Northeast and Rosedale Optimist Clubs oratorical contest consultant/judge; summer youth employment counselor for GEAR-UP and JPTA.
Jackie was passionate about getting parents more involved in educating children. She was serious about education. Jackie’s students didn’t get free time to sit around doing nothing and not learning. If you ask any of her former student’s, they will probably tell you that “Ms. Morris was tough, but she was also fair”. She was a teacher who rarely sent students to the Principal’s office for misbehaving, those problems were solved inside her classroom. She saw no color, race or ethnicity when it came to students. She loved them all.
Her friends will say that Jackie was a “true” friend who never forgot their birthdays, special occasions, and celebrations. She was always there in a time of need. Jackie was giving even until the very end by becoming an organ donor.
An avid traveler she certainly got to see a big part of the world. In addition to visiting most of the United States, her travels took her to; Italy (where her dear friend Donna lives), England, France, Switzerland, Germany, the Caribbean Islands of Jamaica, Aruba and others.
Jackie’s faith was continuously strong, unwavering, having been raised in a Christian home. Most decisions made in her life were based on Christian principles and values as was observed by many. She joined Olivet Institutional Baptist Church under the pastorage of Dr. Osborne A. Crenshaw when she was eleven. After leaving Olivet, she attended First Baptist Church in Kansas City affiliating under the leadership of Rev. Dr. E.A. Freeman. Later attending and later joining Palestine Missionary Baptist Church, she was there for more than 18 years until her health failed. Jackie always volunteered, donated and worked with Palestine’s ministries, especially those involving children/youth. She was a dedicated and Christian woman.
Jackie was strong and fought a courageous battle against a dreaded disease but did not get her healing on this side. We know and pray she is now at peace and will be sorely missed by family, friends, her sisters of Beta Omega Chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority, her Pi Beta Phi fraternity, church members, former students and many others whose lives she may have touched. We love Jackie and find it so hard to believe she is no longer with us. God bless everyone now and forever who knew and loved her too!
She leaves to mourn her passing: Sisters – Barbara (William) Harris, Montgomery, TX; Carylon Morris, Overland Park, KS and Linda (Theopilis) Bryant, Tifton, GA; Brother – John (Irene) Smith, Yorktown, VA; Nephews – Chad (Tammy), Justin, Jason (Lolita) and Theopilis Bryant and William (Rayvan) Harris, II; Nieces – Kendra A. Edwards, Kamron Griffin and Kelli Harris; Aunt – Mrs. Johnnie Morris; Great Nieces – Cecilia Bryant, Peytan Harris, Kennedi Hunt; Great Nephews – Dustin and Brandon Edwards, Michael Griffin, II and Chad Bryant, Jr, and finally, a host of special friends and loving cousins, especially LeRoy Smith.