Morris was a volunteer with Hospice Yukon. This version of his life story was originally co-written by Joie Quarton and Susie Anne Bartsch and adapted for our blog.
Morris David Lamrock was a true renaissance man, a man of varied passions and interests, a man of range and capacity.
Born on February 13, 1960, in Calgary, AB, Morris spent most of his growing up years in Ontario. He died on February 2, 2023, Ground Hog Day, in the Wind River Hospice in Whitehorse, YT, riding the tail of the Green Comet that passed close to Earth that night.
Morris had a deep connection to the earth and all living things and he lived true to his values. His parents were both of Northern Ireland, Dungiven and Claudy. His mother took him to the family farm for thirteen of his young summers where he learned at the knee of his Uncle Alex. He was always a farmer and gardener who loved to make things grow, especially things you could eat.
He created and grew a market garden for more than 10 years with the dear people at Kindwood Farm in Victoria. He created the S.O.I.L. program (Stewards of Irreplaceable Land), which continues to be a national program helping organic farmers connect with those wanting to learn how to farm. He was the founding member/organizer of the Moss Street Farmers’ Market in Victoria back in the 1980s, a market that is still going strong, and that describes itself as a dynamic marketplace focused on sustainability and eco-awareness that supports local economies and producers. Later in life he was a founding member of the Whitehorse Community Thrift Store Society, another venture focused on sustainability and eco-awareness that supports the local economy. He sat on several boards of organizations that support planetary cooperation. He left a beautiful legacy for us all.
Morris made significant contributions through his work life in the Yukon. He spent fifteen years as the Youth Program Coordinator for Environment Yukon, coordinating programs such as the Conservation Action Team (CAT) and the Yukon Youth Conservation Corps (Y2C2). These programs involved spending his summers out on the land with groups of youth ranging in age from eleven to early adulthood. Morris clearly formed strong connections with these young people as many of them have stayed in touch with him after growing up and becoming adults, showing up to help get his garden planted and wood stacked when he and Susie Anne couldn’t do it alone.
Morris paid close attention to the places he worked and to what his co-workers needed, which was often either a potluck or ice cream. He kept the outdoor skating rink at Environment Yukon up and running for well over a decade so that employees could get out at lunch time for some exercise and fresh air, two things that were important to him. He remained active on the Environment volleyball team for as long as he was able. He was passionate about safety and self-care, and often called on us to hold hands while he invited us to listen to our bodies, and at the end of his invocation he always proclaimed, “Nobody gets hurt, we all have fun!” As a union shop steward he would have had this practice instituted into government policy if he could have.
Mo was a keen student of human behavior. He used his counselling training in his work at Environment and in his most recent work at the Yukon Government Respectful Workplace Office (RWO). There he made space for clients’ feelings and helped them navigate workplace conflict. He had his own unique style, relying heavily on his intuition.
Morris would certainly say that his crowning achievements were in his relationships; being a father to Jessie, husband to Susie Anne, son to Anne, brother, uncle, in-law, animal-friend, human-friend, coworker, coach, and communitarian. Being connected to us was his truest passion. Throughout his adult life he toured eco-villages and wild animal protection sanctuaries across North America and around the world, learning about cooperation and connection amongst humans and across species. He loved his human and animal people. He even channeled a book called The Power of Meow: What Cats Can Teach Us About Being Fully Human If We Would Only Slow Down and Listen.
This was a man who was always ready and willing to slow down, listen and connect. That might seem like a small thing to be remembered for, but one only needs to scroll a short distance through Mo and Susie Anne’s Facebook pages to get a sense of how that impacted the people who were lucky enough to know him. One can also get a sense of what a character he was (picture green tuxedo and top hat, or clown nose and water-squirting flower, with suspenders) and how much he will be missed.
It is near-impossible to capture the essence and real-life contributions of a person such as Morris in a short piece of writing. He was unique. He was a character who marched to the tune of his own penny whistle and somehow brought others along. He was deeply involved in making his visions come to fruition, often through a lot of hard, physical labour and sleepless nights of planning.
Morris loved music, to listen, to share, and to play it. He had a sweet tenor voice that could bring the lyrics and melodies of John Denver and Stevie Nicks fully to life. He and his daughter, Jessie shared this love of music and they would swap songs with one another, bonding during driving lessons all over Whitehorse. He would take long road trips, alone and with others, set entirely to music.
His bottomless love of “good quality, creamy, delicious ice cream”. We put a pint of Coffee Haagen-Dazs in his casket.
His adoration of alliteration. All alliteration, all the time…always.
In the last year of his life on Earth Morris was diagnosed with a metastatic melanoma that showed up throughout his body. Watching him work with this with curiosity, humor and grace was a privilege to those who came on the ride.