Pat Morris, née Ratcliffe, was born in Peace River, Alberta in 1936, the third of three children. She and her family moved to Kimberley, BC, where her father took work as a miner when she was a young child. They lived in the small mountain town for which the Foundation is named until 1957, following her marriage to Hugh Morris. She returned to Kimberley in 1966 with her new family and resided there until 1973, when they moved to Vancouver.
Pat met her husband, Hugh Morris, when he was a student in Kimberley—on a fellowship that is the inspiration for the Hugh C. Morris Experiential Learning Fellowship. Before marrying, she had worked in the local newspaper office as a copyeditor, and later as a dental assistant. Although she would later prove herself to be a shrewd student of business and finance, as well as a capable investor and champion of social and economic justice, she worked as a manager only in her own household and was an unofficial builder of community following her marriage.
Pat was a remarkably talented youth. She excelled in both academic and athletic domains. She particularly loved history and literature but achieved excellence in virtually all subjects. She also loved the theatre, dance and was passionately fond of music.
As a youth, Pat was a star badminton player and loved to swim. She was also an avid curler and bowler. In team sports and in her own individual pursuits, she was a determined competitor, but she loved games for their play and grace, and was as enthusiastic about others’ accomplishments as about her own. Her determination was as remarkable as her ability. Following spinal surgery and months of debility as a young woman and mother of three, she trained herself and acquired the strength to swim cross Lake Wasa.
That same commitment marked every part of Pat’s existence. A fierce debater and member of the student government in high school, she exhibited great leadership skills throughout her life. She did not seek leadership for power or self-aggrandizement, however. She was devoted to her community, volunteering in many capacities for local and national charities. She donated many years of service to the Canadian Cancer Society, supported shelters for battered women, and worked to assist severely challenged children through hands-on therapy. Pat gave freely and willingly of herself and encouraged others to do so.
Across the years, Pat’s love of reading sustained her, and she encouraged in her children a deep curiosity about and pleasure in books. Reading was neither an escape nor a retreat for her; it provided a way of engaging the world, of learning and growing, and of forging connections with others. Although she could not afford to attend college as a young woman, Pat founded the first book-club in Kimberley. In the late 1960s, long before book clubs were part of every publisher’s marketing program, she wrote to university librarians, found a book supplier that would courier texts to the mountains, and recruited other women in her small town to read and discuss books together. Their monthly conversations ranged from Plato’s idea of democracy, to comparative religion and anthropology, psychology and art history. Pat and Hugh also organized the town’s first art and book fair, transforming the local high school gym into a little theatre of worldly imagination. After she moved to Vancouver and her children had left home, Pat pursued her long-time dream of returning to college herself, studying history until she interrupted her studies to care for her mother following her father’s death. But she never stopped reading.
Pat adored traveling but she enjoyed being at home with family or generously hosting friends even more. She is remembered by them for her joyfulness, her wit and intelligence, her kindness toward others, her integrity and her self-sacrificing spirit. The Pat Morris “Community Matters” grant recognizes how important community was to her and aims to share her giving spirit by enabling others to make a difference in theirs. It celebrates her love of learning and the great contributions that libraries and reading make to our collective lives.