Fullerton College Remembers
Al Morris, exceptional teacher, actor, and vocalist
February 13, 1948 - September 16, 2001
Al Morris was born in Regensburg, Germany. He was the son of Veronica Loburenk Boley and Merrill Lavon Morris. At the age of 2 his family moved to the United States, settling in Richmond, California. He attended school there, graduating from Richmond Union High School in 1966.
Like other young men, Al enlisted in the navy on December 5, 1967 at the age of 19. Going to Vietnam, he served s Yeoman 3rd Class and was honorably discharged on December 3, 1971. Even then he distinguished himself as vocalist and entertainer. While in the Navy he won various honors and awards, including the _All-Navy Talent Contest in 1971, and he received a letter of congratulations from the Congress of the United States for his outstanding performances.
When he returned home, he attended Saddleback Community College, Grossmont College, and graduated from the University of California at Irvine with a degree in Music. In 1981 he was credentialed to teach by the State of California. And he did teach, but what he did a lot more of was singing. He became well known as the "Unclassical Tenor" as he performed coast to coast in musicals, operas and in concert. His operatic credits included: Vienna Boys Choir, King Kaspar in Amahl and the Night Visitors with the Fullerton Symphony, Rinuccio in Gianni Schicchi at the Mark Taper Forum in Los Angeles, Trabucco in LaForz Del Destino at the International Verdi Festival. Working with producer Van Kapen, Al performed in four musical comedies: Brigadoon with Robert Horton, Where's Charlie with Roger Smith, The Boyfriend with Leslie Uggams, and Call Me Madam with Pearl Bailey. He also performed in Oklahoma and Showboat and one of his all time favorites Guys and Dolls in the role of Nicely-Nicely Johnson.
In 1973 he performed with the San Diego Opera Company and won the San Diego Chorale Club Scholarship; performed opera at San Diego State; in 1979 he acted in the Secret Marriage, UC Irvine; in 1980- performed with the San Diego Master Chorale; in 1981 Gilbert and Sullivan_s Ruddigore American Salute; and in 1985 performed Messiah at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, and performed as the tenor with Cypress Pops Orchestra.
Mr. Morris had performed in leading roles with the San Diego Opera Company, Starlight San Diego Gilbert and Sullivan Repertory Company, California Music Theatre, Irvine Civic Light Opera and Theatre on the Green at the Muckenthaler Cultural Arts Center in Fullerton.
Al appeared in concert throughout Southern California, sharing the stage with entertainers like Dave Brubeck, Pearl Bailey, Noel Harrison, and Leslie Uggums.
His solo album, "The Unclassical Tenor," was released in 1998.
Eventually he became a music instructor at Fullerton College and Cerritos College and taught at those schools for 20 years. It_s hard to imagine how many students he coaxed into musical performances.
One of Mr. Morris's greatest accomplishments was his creation of the Morris Vocal Gallery in Old Town Tustin, California. As one of his many students so proudly state, "Al gave me the rare opportunity and courage to do something I never thought I could do. I was able to sing in front of people._ To say we will miss his sense of humor, his love of life, the twinkle in his eye, and sharing of his gifts each and every day of his life is a monumental understatement. He touched the lives of thousands of people in so many ways and gave so much more than he took. In Al_s world, everyone won!
Al Morris died on Sunday, September 16, 2001 at the too-young age of 53 years. May he be remembered fondly always and in all ways.