Former Shelby County Mayor and Sheriff, Bill Morris, First Recipient of Rotary Lifetime Achievement Award for Public Service

April 08, 2019

MEMPHIS, TENN., April 8, 2019 – Former Shelby County Mayor and Sheriff, Bill Morris, was the first recipient of the Dunavant/Rotary Lifetime Achievement Award presented by the East Memphis Rotary Club. Morris was saluted at the 17th Annual Bobby Dunavant Public Servant Awards luncheon on Wednesday, April 3.

“Bill Morris served Shelby County brilliantly, first as a multi-term sheriff (1964-1970) and subsequently as our county Mayor (1978-1994). Following his distinguished public service career, Bill remains integrally involved with the University of Memphis, St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, and other worthy causes. He represents the finest qualities of servant leadership,” said East Rotary President Bob Chance.

The awards luncheon was well-attended by 400 people including A C Wharton, former mayor of Memphis and Shelby County; Karl Schledwitz, Chairman and CEO of Monogram Foods; Larry Hilbun, past Director of Human Resources for Shelby County Government from 1978 to 1994; and John Elkington, President of Performa Entertainment and developer for Beale Street. Joe Birch, WMC-TV news anchor, served as master of ceremonies for the event.

The Dunavant/Rotary Lifetime Achievement Award is part of an annual public servants recognition program created fifteen years ago by the East Memphis Rotary Club named in honor of the late Bobby Dunavant, a long time and well-respected Probate Court clerk.

“If I say anything to you today, be constantly aware that volunteerism makes things work and preserves a democracy. We all need to be participating in something,” Bill Morris said after accepting the lifetime achievement award at the Holiday Inn-University of Memphis.

Morris has always had a heart for the city of Memphis and servant leadership. He has spent 60 years volunteering at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. During his time as mayor, he traveled the globe with Governors Alexander and McWherter promoting Memphis tourism, Memphis In May, Beale Street and Elvis Presley’s Graceland. He also sold the concept of Memphis as America’s Distribution Center and helped to bring foreign businesses such as Shaper Manufacturing and Nissan Motor Company to Tennessee. His work promoting foreign trade earned him a seat on President Ronald Reagan’s International Economic Committee. Morris also worked to integrate the Shelby County police department during his time as sheriff in the 1960s.

Richard Marsh, East Rotary President-elect and 2019 Dunavant Chairman, presented Morris with the award. “Bill has served our community honorably in many different capacities over the last 50+ years in both elected and appointed positions of civil service. He has had a huge positive impact on the Memphis region and beyond,” Marsh said.

Bill Morris recently released an autobiography, “Bill Morris: A Legendary Life” which documents his life of public service as the Sheriff of Shelby County, Tennessee most known for taking James Earl Ray into custody. The book also documents his four consecutive terms as Mayor of Shelby County, his friendship with Elvis Presley, his devotion to promoting the Memphis area globally, and his devotion to his family. The book can be purchased at http://billmorrisbook.com/ and on Amazon.com.

 

PHOTOS:

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Bill Morris accepts the Dunavant/Rotary Lifetime Achievement Award from the East Memphis Rotary Club, presented by East Rotary President-elect and 2019 Dunavant Chairman, Richard Marsh on Wednesday, April 3.

 

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Former Shelby County and Memphis City Mayor A C Wharton addresses group at the 17th Annual Bobby Dunavant Public Servants Awards luncheon where Bill Morris was awarded the first-ever Dunavent/Rotary Lifetime Achievement Award for Public Service.

 

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Bill Morris, first recipient of the Dunavent/Rotary Lifetime Achievement Award for Public Service addresses the group at the 17thAnnual Bobby Dunavant Public Servant Awards luncheon on Wednesday, April 3.


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