Beryl McKowen Morris passed quietly into eternity on Friday, June 29, 2018 at her home in Zachary surrounded by loved ones. Born Margaret Beryl McKowen on October 5, 1920 to Alex and Henrietta McKowen near Lindsey, Louisiana, “Boots” as she was known to her family was the oldest of five children, with sister Pearl, and three brothers, Alex Jr., Henry, and Johnny McKowen. Following graduation from McKowen High School in Jackson, Louisiana, she finished Belhaven College in Jackson, Mississippi with a degree in Home Economics. She returned to McKowen High School to teach for one year before marrying Captain Harry Stuart Morris, MD of Baton Rouge on June 11, 1943. Following the war, Harry opened his Medical Practice in Zachary while “Boots” made a home next door to the office, often serving “night duty” as his assistant for the frequent midnight emergencies that appeared at the side door of the house during the night. She had been a “Home Ec Major”—“Stitching a knife wound was messy, but not that different from sewing, except for the blood.”
Beryl was preceded in death by her parents Alex and Henrietta McKowen Sr., husband Dr. Harry S. Morris, brother Alex McKowen Jr. and his wife Gertrude Townsend McKowen, brother Henry G. McKowen II and his wife Shirley McKowen, MD, brother-in-law Mansel Slaughter, and daughter-in-law Joan Brantley Morris. She is survived by a sister, Pearl McKowen Slaughter of Baker, and a brother John Griffith McKowen and his wife Marilyn, her three sons, Harry S. Morris Jr and wife Sara Barton Morris, Martin M. Morris DDS and wife Barbara Bagur Morris of Zachary, and Keith G. Morris and wife Cindy Godwin Morris of Baton Rouge. “Boots” became “Bootsie” to her six granddaughters and three grandsons. Melanie Maynor and husband Peter of Webster Groves ,Missouri, Melissa Beryl Morris of Cape Cod, Mass., , Chad McKowen Morris DDS and wife Ashley of Slaughter, LA, Reagan Foster and husband Sterling of Gulfport, MS., Lauren Jackson and husband Cody of Zachary, Katherine Morris of Dallas, TX and Anna Morris of Baton Rouge, Barton Platte of Covington, Michael Platte and wife Anne of Baton Rouge, and 14 great grandchildren, numerous nieces, nephews, her faithful sitters, Yvonne Matthews, Becky Brown, Janice Dowson, Theresa Morris, Dorothy Smith and her friend and social worker --Shelley Wintz
Bootsie was the oldest member of the Plains Presbyterian Church, the oldest alumnus of McKowen High School, a founding member of both the “Town and Country” and the “Portfolio” Book Clubs, and the self-proclaimed Matriarch of her family, a “title” that allowed her to freely bless, encourage, and affirm those that she loved to be all that God intended them to be. She always managed to find humor in herself and knew just how to brighten the mood of others. Her delight was always to make the world around a her better, brighter and more beautiful place. Some have said that Bootsie was delivering meals to shut-ins as a driver for Meals on Wheels in her eighties and that she received a speeding ticket in Baker when she was ninety. One may never know for sure, but certainly she was a beautiful free spirit trapped in an aging frame. Her propensity for broken bones and subsequent recoveries demonstrated her strength, grace and charm. With pursed lips, a twinkle in her eye, and often with only a raised eyebrow, she could communicate so much and say nothing. Somehow she knew everything, never judged and loved you just the same or more. At the end when she couldn’t speak, didn’t eat, and seemed to sleep most of the time, she could still raise her eyebrow and speak volumes.
A celebration of Bootsie’s life will be held on Monday, July 2, 2018 at the Plains Presbyterian Church, 22929 Old Scenic Hwy. Zachary, LA 70791. Visitation will begin at 1:00 pm, followed by a memorial service at 4:00. A dessert reception will also be held in the adjacent Christian Life Center between 1:00-4:00. Burial will be at the Young Family Cemetery.
Pallbearers will be her nephews, Alex McKowen III, Mansel Slaughter Jr., Dr. James Slaughter, Grif McKowen, David Bonham, and Wayne McKowen. Memorial donations can be made to the Plains Presbyterian Church.