Ella Alda Morris passes away at 79

·2 min read

Dec. 2—LAURINBURG — Ella Alda Morris ran Morris Funeral Home in Laurinburg for more than 40 years.

She was a second-generation funeral director and a historymaker. In 2019, her community service was honored when she was named the Women History Honoree by the National Women History Alliance.

On Wednesday, Nov. 24, the 79-year-old passed away at Moore Regional Hospital.

She is survived by her niece and caregiver, Wendy Morris; two nephews: Harold Morris III and Cedric Morris; a sister-in-law: Bettye Morris; a cousin: Rebecca Boyd, and a host of other family and friends.

Morris followed the tradition of African-American mortuaries being passed from generation to generation. Morris Funeral Home has been in business for 100 years, starting with the mortuary in Bennettsville, S.C. The Laurinburg funeral home was opened in 1935.

Morris was one of the first women in Laurinburg to get a funeral director's license. Beacham McDougald, president of McDougald Funeral Home and Crematorium for many years, said Morris returned to Laurinburg from New York after her brother died to keep the funeral going. And at that time, she was a rarity.

"At that time in the '70s, it was very rare for a woman to run a funeral home," he said. "It was especially rare in the black community."

Back then, McDougald said the funeral industry was more male-dominated.

"Ella was a very warm person. She knew everybody," he said.

He fondly recalled sitting down with Morris one day years ago to talk about well-known resident Johnny Covington, who lived in the apartment above Morris Funeral Home.

"Everybody loved him and, out of the goodness of her heart, Ella took in someone who didn't have a place to stay," McDougald said.

Morris's funeral service was held @Wednesday at Bright Hopewell Missionary Baptist Church, then she was laid to rest at Cedar Grove Cemetery.

Cheris Hodges can be reached at chodges@laurinburgexchange.com.

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