Kent’s Dick Morris celebrates 102nd birthday, credits ‘little things’ for longevity

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Laurel Young

Laurel Young

So what’s the secret to a long, healthy and happy life?

For Dick Morris, who last weekend celebrated his 102nd birthday, the answer is actually quite simple: Being content with what life has given you.

“I’ve tried to have a feeling that if I’ve had a reasonable day I should be content with how things are,” he said. “I think people should enjoy contentment while they have a reason to.”

And while Morris said he was proud of his ability to be happy and content with what he has, he gets a twinkle in his eye and a sly smile creeps across his face before he adds the second half of a motto he says has helped carry him through more than a century.

“I’m content, but not satisfied,” he said.

Morris was born in Emporia, Kan., in 1907. Emporia is a small farm town about halfway between Topeka and Wichita, but the simple life of a Kansas farmer was not in Morris’ future. After finishing high school, Morris and a buddy scraped together some money and decided to head for the West Coast.

“We wanted to see what the Rocky Mountains looked like,” he said, adding that Kansas is quite flat. “I thought, ‘gee there’s an ocean out there someplace.’”

After hopping a train to California and a short time working in a flour mill, Morris moved north to Portland, then back to southern California looking for work.

On June 28, 1928, Morris arrived in Seattle via freight train and has been in the area ever since.

In 1930, he married his wife Alice, who died in 2003.

“I was one of the luckiest guys that lived, being the husband of the woman I married,” he said.

Through his life, Morris said his main career was 25 years in the Fisher Flour Mill, but he also worked in real estate before retiring. The end of working, however, didn’t slow down Morris.

“I’m busier now doing nothing,” he said of his days now, his infectious smile returning to his face.

But Morris still keeps active, dancing the nights away at the Kent Senior Activity Center, where he is one of the more sought-after partners.

“I just like a good beat, a lot of swing,” he said of his taste in dance music.

Staying active is one of the things that keeps him going, Morris said, adding that it’s everyday practices, such as a lifestyle of physical activity, that keep you going.

“It’s the little things we do,” he said, adding “It’s what we don’t do as well.”

Morris said in his 100-plus years — through two world wars, a moon landing, the birth of aviation and of the automobile — the most amazing thing he has seen comes in the field of communications, which has gone from morse code all the way to personal cell phones and portable computers like the Blackberry, which he could not help but crack a joke about.

“It’s a good-tasting dessert,” he said with a chuckle.

He has even got some advice for the young whippersnappers who come to wish him a happy birthday, like a friend who wants to know his secret to living as long as Morris has.

“You better keep the bearings well-oiled,” he said to the 84-year-old wishing him a happy birthday, “You’ve got a ways to go.”


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