Bob Morse


Bob Morse, born in Albany, New York on July 2, 1926.He passed away after a lingering illness on November 2, 2012, dying in his home in accordance with his fervent desire.


While in the Navy, Bob got an engineering degree from Cornell.Thenhe went to work for Bendix in Elyria, Ohio where he was granted twopatents before he took early retirement in 1975.Bob is survived byhis wife, Jeanne Williams, and two sons from his first marriage,Brian and Robert, two grandchildren and two great grandchildren.


After retiring he traveled to birding hot spots, from Alaska toTexas and in 1978 settled in Paradise, where he worked with theForest Service.He met Jeanne on an Audubon bird trip in Mexico.Married in 1980, they boughttheir Portal home from Alden andGretchen Hayes a year later.


Bob, a keen observer of nature, had a passion for birding sincecollege days.In 1982 Sally Spofford entrusted him with thecompilation of the Christmas Bird Count, whichhe continued to hostin his home until his heart attack.Despite declining health hecontinued as compiler as long as he was able.Birders remember himfondly because he enjoyed sharing his knowledge of birds and their ways.

Bob made the first verified U. S. sighting of the Flame-ColoredTanager which was named "Bird of the Year" by the American BirdingAssociation. NBC's "Today Show" sent a crew to do a segment on CaveCreek, filming Bob at the Tanager's nesting site.

Birders traveled from all over the country to see the BlueMockingbird in his backyard since this was only the bird's secondappearance in the U.S.


"Bob was the drive to establish a fire department," explained hisgood friend, Rene Blondeau."Without him we wouldn't have had one."Together they solicited funds while Bob designed and acquiredmaterials for the first Portal Rescue building which is now the bayfor the rescue vehicles.With their neighbors helping and Bob'sgrant writing skills, his dream became a reality.With Jeanne, hehad been an EMT since 1985. As our first Fire Chief he establishedthe department, serving over the years as Portal Rescue President andSecretary as well as fireman.The day before Bob passed away, henodded his head, acknowledging that he appreciated that the firestation was indeed his enduring legacy to this community.

Bob was also Portal's longest keeper of weather records. His monthly and yearly averages have been posted on the Portal-Rodeo web sitesince the site's inception. As we monitored our monthly precipitation, and compared it to Bob's data, spanning over 30 years, we were among the first to be able to assess climate change.


As Bob wished, Jeanne will scatter his and his beloved dog, Leon'sashes along his favorite Chiricahua trails.This is the only servicehe wanted.

Bob wrote this engraving on Leon's ashes urn which has waited onthe fireplace mantle for 15 years.

"A faithful and loving companion,

Gone to a land of cool streams, big bones, slow rabbits and NOthunder."


May they roam the Canyon.Forever Free!


Howard Topoff 2011