Cover photo for William J. “Bill” Morris's Obituary
William J. “Bill” Morris Profile Photo

William J. “Bill” Morris

William J. “Bill” Morris, 72, of Sedalia, unexpectedly passed away Thursday, December 17, 2020, at his home.

He was born August 19, 1948, in Lawrenceville, IL, son of William J. and Louise (Eyeipock) Morris.

Bill is a 1966 graduate of Smith Cotton High School in Sedalia, MO.

On July 13, 1981, in Ottumwa, IA, he married Mary Lea (Bailey) who he adored for 39 years.

Bill served in the United States Navy during the Vietnam era. He was stationed overseas in Guam and Spain and also spent time at the Norfolk Naval Base in Norfolk, VA.  Bill was a cryptologic technician.

He and Mary Lea owned and operated Morris Furniture in Ottumwa for 29 years before retiring back to Sedalia.  His sales abilities were above all and he was quite successful in the business.

Bill did not know a stranger and everyone that ever met him felt his love, kindness, and acceptance surround them.  Everyone loved Bill and he made you feel special, important and loved.

He was a Mason, a Shriner and member of the VFW.

From a young age, Bill was a talented musician and loved playing the guitar and singing. At the age of seven, he (referred to as Billy Joe) even landed a 6 year contract on the Ozark Junior Jubilee, and had several appearances on the Red Foley Show with entertainers such as Red Foley, Brenda Lee, Smiley Burnett, Rex Allen, Johnny Lee Willis and several others.  At age 8, Billy Joe won a trip to New York to the Ted Mack Amateur Hour after winning one of the two spots, out of over 1800 contestants.  Bill continued to share his talents and love of music in his retirement performing at community events or nursing homes.  “The Auctioneer” and “I’ve Been Everywhere” are favorites among his fans. Bill was recently the emcee during the country music events at the What Cheer Opera House in What Cheer, IA.  With his entertaining and comical personality, his talent for playing guitar and his beautiful voice, he was always a hit.  Bill was also often called to be a special guest at the Lake Rathbun Opry House in Rathbun, IA several times.

Surviving are his wife, Mary Lea, of the home; three sons, Robert D. Morris (Leslie), of Summerville, S.C., Rick Grimes (Terri), of Ottumwa, IA, and Randall Thornton (Shelly Walz), of Sedalia;  a daughter, Rhonda Ahern (Nathan), of Sedalia; a daughter-in law, Serenna Thornton; eleven grandchildren, Christopher Morris, Autumn Morris, Caleb Morris, Joseph Morris, Angie Corzette, Amber Heckart, Mary Lynn Roberts, Abby Gamble, Dr. Angel Hale, Glenn Thornton, and Tabitha Townsend; three step grandchildren, Mallory Walz, Meghan Ahern and Abbey Ahern; and fifteen great-grandchildren; two brothers, Shawn Morris (Tracy), of Lee’s Summit and Jeffrey Morris, of Sedalia; a sister, Pam Paxton, of New Franklin; and several nieces and nephews.  Bill also had several step children and their families that were very special to him including Don Thornton (Jan), Glenda Cole, Judy Conklin, Carol Sue Madorin, Dennis Thornton (Karen), and Kevin Thornton.

He was preceded in death by his parents; and a sister, Shirley Morris.

A private, family-only memorial service with strict pandemic precautions will be held at 1:30 p.m. Monday, December 28, 2020, at Heckart Funeral Home, with Ordained Prayer Minister Jim Harmon officiating, who was a friend and neighbor.

The service will be livestreamed on Heckart Funeral Home’s Facebook page.

A Celebration of Life gathering of family and friends will be announced at a later date.

Full military honors will be conducted by the U.S. Navy and VFW Post 2591.

Memorials are suggested to the Bothwell Foundation to purchase AED’s for Pettis County and should be sent to Heckart Funeral Home, 903 S. Ohio Ave, Sedalia, MO 65301.
To order memorial trees or send flowers to the family in memory of William J. “Bill” Morris, please visit our flower store.


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