Cover photo for Thomas Edward Morton, Jr.'s Obituary
Thomas Edward Morton, Jr. Profile Photo
1930 Thomas 2018

Thomas Edward Morton, Jr.

October 7, 1930 — February 2, 2018

Thomas Edward Morton, Jr., age 87, of Jefferson City, Missouri, departed this life on Friday, February 2, 2018, at Capital Region Medical Center with his wife of forty-five years at his side. Thomas was born on October 7, 1930, in Jackson, Tennessee, the only child of the Reverend Thomas E. Morton, Sr., and Genevieve Ferguson Morton. On August 5, 1972, he was united in marriage with Dr. Olga Christine Shopay in a ceremony officiated by his father at the First Christian Church in Scranton, Pennsylvania. Tom received his early education in Charlotte, North Carolina, and graduated in 1948 from Marion Township High School in Marion, Illinois. He was active in the Drama Club, sang in the choir, and was a member of the band and orchestra. He played the tuba and won First Place honors in state competition for his talent on the sousaphone. Tom pursued his education over the years by earning a B.A. in political science from Southern Illinois University-Carbondale, an M.A. in Russian and Slavic Studies from Indiana University in Bloomington, and an M.A. in Library and Informational Science from the University of Missouri. He also completed study for a doctorate in Russian history at The Ohio State University and participated in an international Russian language Exchange Program to the Soviet Union. Tom proudly served his country in the United States Air Force from 1952 to 1956 followed by four years of reserve status and received an Honorable Discharge with the rank of Staff Sergeant on June 12, 1960. During his years in the military, Tom was selected to participate in intense Russian language study at the USAF Institute of Technology at Syracuse University in New York, completing the program in all areas as both fluent and proficient. Tom was subsequently shipped overseas to the USAF air base in Edinburgh, Scotland, where he spent two years in the security service working as a radio intelligence operator and cryptographer. In 1956 Tom enjoyed the distinction of being chosen to attend the University of Cambridge Board of Extra Mural Studies in international relations, post-war Europe. Tom spent a number of years in the field of education as a talented teacher and gifted bibliographer. His easy-going manner in the classroom and his vast knowledge of the world of books earned him the admiration and respect of his mentors, colleagues, and students alike. Tom taught courses in Russian language and literature at the University of Missouri and specialized in Russian language, Russian history, western civilization, and international studies at The Ohio State University main campus in Columbus as well as the regional campus in Mansfield. While at OSU Tom taught and administered the graduate-level research course for proficiency in Russian. Tom was employed in the Catalog Department of the Indiana University Library and worked in the areas of reference, inter-library loan, collection development, and map collection as a Library Assistant at Ellis Library, MU. He also was responsible for the compilation of several professional bibliographies in the Slavic area during his tenure at Ohio State. In 1977 Tom joined the Division of Research for the Missouri State Senate, where he worked for twenty-four years before retiring from state government in 2001 as Assistant Director of Research. Tom staffed such committees as Agriculture, Local Government and Economic Development, Pensions and General Laws, Urban Affairs and Housing, Joint Committee on Wetlands, and the State Health Care Committee. His work involved drafting legislation, preparing amendments, and handling constituent requests. He also coordinated and supervised the preparation of bill summaries and related information for the Bill Website and the Senate's internal bill-tracking system. Tom played a major role in endeavors pertinent to revising retirement systems, setting the salaries for county officials, establishing the licensing of various professions, and drafting legislation for the regulation of nursing homes and boarding homes in the Show-Me State. He earned special acclaim for writing the official report on Nursing and Boarding Home Licensing in Missouri. Tom traveled throughout Missouri and to other states, enabling him to interact with numerous colleagues and government officials especially through attendance at the National Conference of State Legislatures. Tom was well versed in a quarter century of Senate history and was particularly appreciated for his remarkable ability to remember and document facts, which enabled him to find the answer to practically any question. Over the years Tom held membership in such professional organizations as the American Association of Teachers of Slavic and East European Languages, the American Association for the Advancement of Slavic Studies, the American Historical Association, the Modern Language Association, and the Modern Library Association. He distinguished himself as a member of the Dobro Slovo Russian language honorary and as a recipient of a National Defense Education Act (NDEA) Title VI Fellowship. Tom was known for his quick wit and unique sense of humor. He was an avid reader and loved to travel. He and his wife, Chris, enjoyed numerous trips to most countries in Western and Eastern Europe, China, Thailand, and Tunisia. They visited all states in the US, including Alaska and Hawaii. They had many special memories of their fabulous European river cruises as well as their last trip to the Caribbean. As a historian and bibliophile, Tom had an impressive library of books. He was especially intrigued by the events of World War II, Tsarist Russia, and the Civil War. He liked Pogo and enjoyed the Tales of Lake Wobegon. He supported PBS, regularly watched Washington Week, and loved to read The New York Times. Tom followed the St. Louis Cardinals and was a longtime fan of the Cincinnati Bengals. He appreciated opera, classical music, Church Slavonic hymns, Russian folk songs, Ukrainian traditions, and Chriss talent on the accordion and the organ. Tom enjoyed the Christmas holiday season as exemplified by his beautiful collection of Santas from various parts of the world. He was also very fond of owls and had an extensive collection, which was most dear to him. But most of all, he was devoted to Olga, the love of his life. Tom was an active member of the Jefferson City Area YMCA, the Sam B. Cook Healthplex, and the Elite Advantage Club of Hawthorn Bank, where he made many special friends and participated in travel and other activities. Affiliated with the First Christian Church through his father's ministry, Tom was a member of St. Andrew's Ukrainian Church in Blakely, Pennsylvania, an institution organized more than sixty years ago with the support of his wife's father, the late Thomas Shopay. Tom was preceded in death by his parents. As the last surviving member of his immediate family, Tom leaves only his wife and several cousins to mourn his passing. A Memorial Service will be held at 2:00 p.m. on Saturday, February 17, 2018, at the Dulle-Trimble Funeral Home in Jefferson City. Interment at a later date will be in the Morton family plot at Pineview Cemetery in Rocky Mount, North Carolina. Memorial contributions are suggested to the American Heart Association or the Parkinson's Disease Support Group. Dulle-Trimble Funeral Home is in charge of the arrangements. Those wishing to email tributes or condolences to the family may do so at the website.
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