In Memoriam: Velma V. Morrison 1920 – 2013

Velma V. Morrison passed away in Rancho Mirage, California, on Thursday, June 20, 2013.

Born August 1st, 1920, to Earl and Gladys Mitchell, she began her life on a ranch in Tipton, California. She is survived by her sister Melva Brucker, daughter Judyth Roberts, and her son Ron Shannon, as well as grandsons Drake Shannon, Michael Trindade and Justin Wilkerson.

Those who knew Velma all agree that she lived a full life, many times over. Ms. Morrison really lived three separate lives. Her first life consisted of growing up a farm girl on a Tipton ranch, then roaming the Great Plains harvesting grain during the Depression. She helped weld ships as a true "Rosie the Riveter" during World War II, and eventually owned her own Bakersfield restaurant called “The Broiler.”

Her second life began the moment she met Harry Morrison, cofounder of the Morrison/Knudsen Construction Company. It is a short, romantic, story. They met at the Broiler. Harry first stopped by for dinner while watching an away game of the Boise Junior College football team. He kept coming back, and on one visit he told her that she was working too hard and that he needed a traveling nurse. The rest, as they say, is history. In 1959, she married Harry and they traveled together for the rest of his life. After Harry died in 1971, she continued his work by taking over leadership of the Harry Morrison Foundation. She showed where her heart truly lay, and became a great Idaho philanthropist. It was thanks to her efforts that the Velma V. Morrison Center for the Performing Arts was built in Boise State University.

In 1986, her third life started when she married John Hockberger, a long-time friend. Together with John, she continued her love of philanthropy, mentoring and influencing her family and community. This grand dame of Idaho served on many boards for organizations and causes that she passionately cared about. For her lifelong commitment to enriching lives, Boise State University, the College of Idaho, Gonzaga University, and Pepperdine University all gifted her with honorary doctorates.

Velma's life of ninety-two years was touched by the Depression, but shaped by faith; touched by war, yet shaped by love. No, it was not the events in her life that shaped her, but she who shaped her life. She lived by her strong faith in God, and her trust in Him carried her throughout her life. The stories of the life of Velma Morrison could fill a book. In fact, they have; her memoirs are published in the book The Bluebird Will Sing Tomorrow. Velma, you will be sorely missed by your family and many friends…thank you, dear lady, for being with us for so many years.

Services will be held at 10 a.m., Thursday, June 27, 2013 at Tulare United Methodist Church, 228 W. Kern Ave., Tulare, with burial following at Tulare District Cemetery. Arrangements by Peers Lorentzen Funeral Chapel, Tulare.

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The Peregrine Fund