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Community mourns longtime Lake Charles Councilwoman Mary Morris

Published: Aug. 9, 2021 at 6:28 PM CDT
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Lake Charles, LA (KPLC) - COVID-19 continues to cause new heartache across Southwest Louisiana, as the community mourns the loss of a longtime councilwoman.

The Lake Charles community is mourning the untimely passing of longtime city councilwoman Mary Morris. Family members said she died Sunday from complications due to COVID-19.

Monday, leaders gathered at Lake Charles City Hall to reflect on her time in office - referencing traits such as warrior, educator, advocate and passion to describe Morris.

Mary Morris served District A, better known as North Lake Charles, for the last seven years and had just begun her third term in office after winning the April 24 election.

Assuming the role as council for District A was more than just a title for Mary Morris.

”The warrior mentality. Didn’t matter how small or your financial status or where you lived in the community, she was willing to help,” friend and mentee Nathan Keller said.

Keller said Morris possessed a quality that inspired him through his law enforcement career and his run for Ward 3 Marshal.

”She always talked about inclusion - before inclusion was ever on the map. And we talked about diversity and all the other things. Mary talked about inclusion. A city that needed to represent as far as management, to the lowest man on the totem pole,” Keller said.

During her time on the city council, she served as a watchdog of tax dollars and an advocate for fair wages for city employees.

In 2015, Morris held a public meeting for District A constituents to discuss items like raises in the 2015-2016 budget.

“All our employees do a great job. However, the way we implement raises, whether it’s an 8 percent raise or a 10 percent or a 2 percent- to do it percentage-wise, it is unfair to the people who are making 20,000, where they might get a thousand dollar raise, and where some people who are making 70 and 80 and 90-thousand, they might get 7 to 9,000 dollar raise. So, how do we do that evenly and we preserve the dignity of all of our employees by giving them a good raise,” Morris said.

”She poured herself into her work, she poured herself into her community, and she led with that,” Lake Charles Mayor Nic Hunter said.

From a government standpoint, Mayor Hunter said she often shared her childhood stories and life experiences with him.

”It challenged me to think about issues we face from another person’s perspective,” Hunter said. “It reaffirmed to me whether we’re talking about Lake Charles or the United States of America, everyone has different life experiences. And Ms. Morris had a life experience here that made her the person she was, and that person was a warrior for her community.”

Lake Charles City Council President Rodney Geyen said her death comes as a shock, not only to the board but the numerous projects she planned to tackle during her third term.

“She was very adamant about the Enterprise Boulevard project, and we came to a conclusion that we were going to do all we could to help her get that done,” Geyen said.” “It was concluded that the state would come in each year to financially support to help make that dream a reality. That project was the one she really wanted to see through, but she has a legacy here now. And that will be a goal for all of us to keep our minds focused on to try to get that project done.”

Morris’ family released the following statement Monday, stating that she died from complications stemming from the coronavirus.

“City Councilwoman Mary Morris died last night at St. Patrick Hospital from complications stemming from the coronavirus. As we continue to notify our family members, we ask for privacy while keeping us in your daily prayers.”

Family of District A Councilwoman Mary Morris

In late 2019, Morris had undergone a kidney transplant, where her daughter donated a kidney for the transplant to occur. Her family said, otherwise, she would not have had the opportunity to undergo the surgery because of her age.

Morris was fully vaccinated, and her family said she was an advocate for the vaccine and would tell anyone to get it despite the complications she had.

Morris was 76 years old.

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