Remembering Margaret Morse

Remembering Margaret Morse

Longtime university supporter lived to see her 107th birthday

In 1931 Margaret (Nothiger) Morse (n35) walked onto the Pacific College campus to start her college education. It began an 85-year relationship with her alma mater that ended March 3 with her death at 107; at the time she was George Fox University’s oldest living alumnus.

Both she and the college changed their names: She married fellow student Curtis Morse (G33) shortly after he graduated, and Pacific College became George Fox in 1949. But the family’s relationship with George Fox only deepened. All four of the Morse children – Sam (G57), Paul (G59), Howard (G61) and Barbara (G62) – followed their parents to the school and graduated, and at her passing Morse was living adjacent to the campus she loved at Friendsview Retirement Community.

Remembering Margaret Morse

The Morse family in 1989. Front row: Doug Morse (G83), Sheri Morse, Margaret Morse (n35), Curtis Morse (G33), Monna Morse, Howard Morse (G61). Back row: Paul Morse (G59), Merideth Morse, Dean Morse (G85), Geraldine Morse (G61), Sam Morse (G57).

The Morse name will continue to be remembered on campus through the Curtis and Margaret Morse Athletic Fields, named in the Morses’ honor in a 1989 dedication ceremony after the couple donated $40,000 ($80,000 in today’s dollars) for the renovation of the 12-acre baseball and softball field complex. It was a gift that seemed somewhat surprising, coming from two teachers at small schools and with a large family. It came as a result of living frugally. After their children moved away from home, “they lived on one teacher’s salary and my father invested the other,” says their daughter, Barbara. “He felt that God guided him in investing wisely.”

For their longtime attendance and support of Bruin athletics, the Morses were inducted into the George Fox Sports Hall of Fame in 2000.

The couple met in Margaret’s hometown of Sweet Home, Oregon, while Curtis was there working with a railroad construction crew during the summer after his second year of college. They met at a Wednesday evening prayer meeting and got engaged three weeks later. She then decided to join him at Pacific College, saying in an interview last fall, “I feel that it was really through God’s persuasion.”

She worked for room and board in the home of a Newberg couple, taking care of the family’s 3-year-old son, and also found time to join the college’s volleyball and basketball teams. She recalled Curtis, who participated in football, soccer and track, taking her to athletics banquets, where she was the only girl with a corsage. His uncle was a florist, and Curtis had easy access to flowers. “It made the other fellows want to give their girls flowers,” she recalled. “That was how the tradition of giving corsages started at Pacific College.”

After they married, the Morses moved to Woodland and Weippe, Idaho, where they lived in a cabin Curtis built. They worked and taught in Idaho until 1960, the last 15 years in Greenleaf, where she continued taking college courses in the evenings and in summer to finally complete her degree in 1959. She landed her first teaching job in 1954, before she had even completed college, and taught 12 students in all grades in a one-room school. After she taught fourth grade in Homedale, Idaho, for four years, the couple moved back to Oregon to teach in Culver in Central Oregon for five years. They later moved to the Oregon Coast in 1965, where she taught second grade at Waldport School for eight years until her 1973 retirement and subsequent move back to Newberg. Curtis died in 2002 at the age of 97, 69 years after their wedding.