1923 - 2014
Dr. Samuel Slemmons Morrison, 91, a pioneer of the Geisinger Medical Center’s pediatric service, peacefully departed this earthly life on Sunday morning, December 14, 2014.
He is survived by his loving wife of 66 years, Isabel Johnson Morrison; four daughters, Ann Holmes and husband Tod, Isabel Morrison and husband Taylor Runner, Elizabeth Richie, and Joan Dailey and husband Ralph; eight grandchildren, Chad Holmes and wife Pamela, Jay Holmes and wife Celeste, Emma and Samuel Runner, Isaiah Richie and wife KayCee, and Ryan, Erin and Dylan Dailey; and one great granddaughter, Anna Isabel Holmes. He was preceded in death by son-in-law, Larry Richie, and grandchild, Elijah Richie.
The son of Tracy McKee and Pearl Ann Morrison, Sam was born in Wilkensburg, PA, on June 2, 1923. He grew up outside of Pittsburgh in Edgewood, PA. His father worked for the H. J. Heinz Company. He graduated from Edgewood High School in 1941 and then went on to attend Princeton University, class of 1945. Because of the Army’s need for more physicians during WWII, he cut short his undergraduate career to enter Harvard Medical School, graduating in 1947.
He met Isabel, his beloved wife, a Danville native, at the Massachusetts General Hospital (where she was a secretary) on his last day of medical school. Destiny brought them together again in Danville, when Sam began an internship at Geisinger Memorial Hospital. They were married November 25, 1948.
In 1949, the young Dr. Morrison volunteered under the “Forrestal Program” for a two year tour of duty in the Army Medical Corps. Sam was initially assigned to the 161st Station Hospital in Sapporo, Japan. When the Korean War erupted, he was assigned to the 24th Infantry Division as a surgeon with the 3rd Engineer Combat Battalion. In such capacity his duty took him from Taejon, to the Pusan perimeter, to within 15 miles of the Yalu River, the border with China where, vastly outnumbered, the Americans retreated to escape entrapment by the Chinese troops that had amassed on the opposite banks of the river.
Upon his return from Korea, following three years of training as a Pediatric Fellow at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, MN, Sam received an MS in Pediatrics from the University of Minnesota. He was certified by the American Board of Pediatrics in 1954. Sam was the first Director of the Department of Pediatrics, Washington Clinic, Washington, D.C., from 1954 to 1956.
Sam always loved Danville and was thrilled when he received the offer to become an associate in the Department of Pediatrics at the Geisinger Memorial Hospital and Foss Clinic in 1956. He served as Chief of Pediatrics from 1958 to 1974 and, subsequently, as an Associate in the Department of Pediatrics until his retirement in 1988. During his 32 year career at the Geisinger he served as the President of the Pediatric Society of Northeastern Pennsylvania, the President of the Montour County Medical Society and Chairman of the Medical Advisory Committee of the Susquehanna Valley Chapter, National Foundation, March of Dimes.
Sam was a lifelong Presbyterian and a 58 year member of the Grove Presbyterian Church having served both as an Elder and a Deacon.
The many years of Sam’s service at Geisinger left very little time for hobbies or outside activities. He had been a talented tennis player, actor, singer and artist in the earlier years of life. After retirement, he enjoyed golf and gardening, and spent hundreds of hours constructing his sprawling community of “Samburgh,” featuring nine model trains running simultaneously.
Sam’s family will always remember his loving devotion to them, his medical service to children, his passion for music, his clever humor and wit, and his sweetly demonstrative, theatrical nature.
Relatives and friends are invited to a memorial service celebrating Samuel’s life to be held Saturday, January 17, 2015 at 12 noon at the Grove Presbyterian Church, 330 Bloom St., Danville, PA 17821, with his pastor, the Rev. Dr. Robert J. Andrews, officiating. Friends will be received from 10 AM until 11:45 AM in the Great Room at the church. The burial will be private and will be held at the convenience of the family. A luncheon will follow in the Social Hall. The family will provide flowers. Donations in Sam’s memory may be made to the Samuel S. Morrison, M.D. Pediatric Endowed Lectureship Fund, Geisinger Foundation, 100 N. Academy Avenue, Danville, PA 17822-2576 or the Grove Presbyterian Church.
Arrangements are under the direction of the Visneski Funeral Home Inc. 10 W. Mahoning St., Danville, PA.
Obituary Courtesy of Visneski Funeral Home.