Laverne "Verne" Morrison
Laverne (Verne) Hector Morrison was born December 17, 1922 on a farm in the Big Muddy area of Southern Saskatchewan to Hector and Lorelda (Wunderlich) Morrison. He attended rural schools in the Big Beaver/Buffalo Gap area until 1936 when his family relocated to the town of Pangman. He boarded out and attended school in Regina the first year and then joined the family in Pangman. He finished senior matriculation at the Pangman High School, and then went on to graduate from Regina Normal School in 1941.
He began his teaching career at Poplar Peak School near Lestock, and then taught briefly at Red Rose School in 1942 prior to enlisting in the Royal Canadian Airforce. Dad took his pilot training in Regina and obtained his wings at Vulcan, Alberta. He was sent to England for more training eventually becoming a bomber command pilot flying bombing missions in Halifax and then Lancaster bombers. He attained the rank of Squadron Leader in the 429 Bison squadron. He remained with occupation forces in Europe for a year after the war, flying POW troops back to England from Germany and assisting British forces by flying soldiers back from Italy. He received his discharge in August 1946 and resumed his teaching career first in Kayville and then in Riceton.
On October 10, 1947 he married his high school sweetheart, Ruth Metke and they soon started their family of seven children over the next twenty years. In 1948 Dad enrolled at the University of Saskatchewan and graduated four years later with his BA and B Ed degrees. The family, which by then had increased by three, moved to Yellow Grass where dad became the principal for the next ten years. In 1962, the family, which now consisted of six children, moved to Melfort, where Dad became a vice-principal and teacher in the high school. In 1968, after having one more child, Dad took an appointment as superintendent of schools in the Wilkie area. Two years later, realizing he missed the classroom and the students, he moved the family back to Melfort and took a teaching, and eventually the principal, position in Star City. Dad superannuated in 1978, but over the next few years took temporary teaching and superintendent positions throughout the province.
Dad was a passionate teacher. If you wanted to learn, he would teach you. He would push you to learn to your highest level. If you didn’t want to learn, he would still encourage you to do your best and would try to find the key to make learning become more interesting for you.
Dad had other passions as well. He joined the Royal Canadian Legion in 1947 and was a very dedicated member at a number of different branches. He held most of the branch and provincial executive positions over the years and was the Saskatchewan Command President from 1983 to 1985. He and mom made many life-long friends across the country, and from other parts of the world, during this time. Dad served on a number of Legion committees, including the National Youth Organization.
Dad was an avid gardener and spent a lot of time in the yard. He was also a master at making jam and would get up at dawn to get another batch going. But he was never too busy to play some catch, take the family on camping trips, tenting of course. Stew was his favourite food to make on these trips and anything and everything went into it.
Another passion was sports, whether it was participating, coaching, watching TV or listening on the radio. And he could do it all at once. He would be watching a sporting event on the TV, have a radio on in the kitchen and run out to the car to listen to some other event from far away. We, only partly joking, said that our father was the only person in Canada who knew who the rushing leader in the Dallas high school football league was. Many a night, driving home from somewhere, we listened to the squawking of the radio from which only dad could hear a ball game.
Dad played and coached many different sports; baseball, basketball, tennis and others but it was Track and Field that he really gave of his time and energy. He started the Melfort Legion Track Club shortly after moving to Melfort. He went to Guelph two summers to obtain more coaching training. He coached a couple of summers at the Legion Track Camp at International Peace Gardens south of Brandon. Then Dad, with the help of others, succeeded in bringing a Legion Track Camp to Saskatchewan, which still carries on the legacy of training athletes. He was head coach at the camp for a couple of years, and then went on to be the Camp Director. Dad was also involved nationally becoming Vice Chairman of the Legion’s Dominion Track and Field program and accompanying Saskatchewan athletes to the national Legion camps.
Over the years, some of dad’s other activities were; Regional Coordinator for Encounters With Canada, member of the Senior Citizens’ Provincial Council, Secretary-Treasurer and newsletter editor of the Carrot River Valley chapter of the Superannuated Teachers, President of the Saskatchewan High School Athletic Association and Charter Member of the Canadian High School’s Athletic Association, Commissionaire at the Melfort Hospital, member of the Home Care Board, helped organize the Senior’s 55+ fitness games in the northeast area, Chairperson for the Terry Fox Run in Melfort, Sport Director for the 1988 Saskatchewan Summer Games, Director with both Melfort Curling Club and Melfort and District Golf Club, 1998 Melfort Citizen of the Year.
Dad was predeceased by his parents Hector and Lorelda Morrison, his brothers Dwight and Clarence, his sister Beryl, father and mother in law Paul and Daisy Metke, brother in laws Paul (Bud) Metke, Herman Metke, Ford (Cub) Metke, Keith Metheral and Avery McDowall.
He is survived by his loving wife of over 70 years, Ruth, his children Jim (Debby), Brian (Linda), Ken, Janet (Vern Quaroni), Ron (Jean), Terry (Cathy) and Michelle (David Peet), 14 grandchildren and 12 great-grandchildren. Laverne is also survived by his sister Betty Metheral, his brother Blaine (Donna), and sisters-in-law Edna Morrison and Cheryl Morrison and numerous nieces and nephews.
The family wishes to say a special thank you to the staff at Newmarket Place in Tisdale, Parkland Place in Melfort and Melfort Hospital for the exceptional care that was given to Dad in the past eighteen months.
At Dad’s request, a family graveside service will be held at Pangman, SK at a later date.