Garland Morris and Marguerite Hess Morris ’44 had a long and rewarding marriage. They met on a double date while Marguerite was a student at R-MWC and Garland was at Virginia Tech. Throughout their marriage, they donated generously and faithfully to the College’s Annual Fund. Despite the loss of his beloved wife in 1999, Garland decided to continue to contribute to the College to “support its future prosperity.”
Their daughter, Margie Morris Dubay ’74, has followed her parents’ model of philanthropy.
Margie notes that, “My gifts are not large. However, I feel that my continued participation in giving whatever amount is important, so that the college that means so much to my family will continue to offer the same opportunities of friendships, connections and academic inspiration to others.”
Margie says that stories about the College were a part of her upbringing.
“Mom told me that when she toured colleges as a prospective student, she was especially impressed with the friendliness of everyone on this campus, compared to that of other colleges. She thrived in this atmosphere, and frequently spoke of good friends and favorite professors she knew at college.”
As a witness to her mother’s ‘Even’ ‘charm and debonair manner,’ not to mention that you ‘couldn’t tell her much’ says Margie, “as I grew up, I decided to follow her to this college, where I enjoyed my own R-MWC experience.”
In addition to his Annual Fund gifts, Garland decided to do something in memory and in honor of Marguerite.
Garland notes that “Marguerite’s interests were in the sciences, which was perhaps a reflection of her father’s pioneering work as one of the earliest medical doctors specializing in radiology. Following her graduation with a major in biology, her college connections enabled her to work in cancer research in New York City.” The couple shared their love of the sciences. Garland is a retired NACA/NASA aerospace engineer.
Garland was especially pleased to be able to give a special gift to the College that primarily funded the purchase of a spectrofluorimeter for use by faculty and students.
Garland noted that “continued individual contributions are important because they allow the college to have additional programs and equipment that mean so much to everyone.”
The College was delighted to receive the instrument.
Assistant Professor of Chemistry William Bare, says that “the new spectrofluorimeter is the most significant addition to our collection of analytical instruments in the last five to ten years.”
It is a versatile piece of equipment, and can be used extensively by chemistry, biology and physics faculty, for both teaching and research. The spectrofluorimeter illuminates samples (which are usually liquids) with an ultraviolet light source and then measures the color and intensity of the light that is emitted by the samples.
Word is out that the College owns this instrument. It has been used by a Sweet Briar physicist and Professor Bare reports that “We even had a grad student from Virginia Tech travel to Lynchburg to utilize the instrument for his PhD research.”
This summer Rebecka Brasso, Instructor of Biology, is using the spectrofluorimeter as an added component of her collaborative summer research project with Marwa Abdel Latif ’09 (funded by the Virginia Foundation for Independent Colleges) to detect subtle changes in the color of birds’ feathers as a possible indicator of mercury poisoning.
This instrumentation is ideal for today’s students and for the sophisticated coursework that challenges their intellect.
Margie notes that while different generations have different perspectives, they still share their love for the College and its enduring influence on their lives. “My mother’s experience was highly influenced by World War II. Mine was colored by the ‘Age of Aquarius.’ The experience of a college student of today has been revolutionized by the rise of electronic communications. Yet the thread that I see that connects all of these at this college is that those who study here have a lifelong intellectual curiosity and confidence that stands out in any crowd.”
She says, with a playful twinkle, “When you get me talking about my college, I could go on and on forever!”