With the passing of H. Robert “Bob” Morrison last Sunday, the City of Falls Church lost more than a former, highly-distinguished treasurer, but one of its most precious and subtly influential treasures.
Morrison, whose complete obituary appears elsewhere in this edition, made his lasting mark on the City and the region often by lending critical support to creative and innovative causes that advanced public discourse and the causes of human rights, inclusiveness and opportunities for the disadvantaged. A cancer survivor for over 20 years, he finally succumbed to the disease at age 71 last Sunday.
Morrison chose his causes carefully, and among the first for him in Falls Church was the promotion of cable access television. Among his last and most rewarding, following his retirement in 2006 after 13 years as the City of Falls Church’s elected treasurer, was his tireless volunteer role with the D.C. Central Kitchen, where the homeless and hungry are not only fed, but also trained to qualify for gainful employment in the food service industry. His long-time love for photography also wound up providing City residents with countless records of good times and achievements, as his work often graced the pages of the News-Press and were featured at local exhibitions.
A lesser-known influence of Morrison in Falls Church was his seminal role in advising and encouraging the founding of the Falls Church News-Press in the period leading up to its first published edition in March 1991. But for Morrison’s counsel and unqualified support for the ambitious undertaking, it might never have happened.
Morrison and Nick Benton, the News-Press founder, who remains its owner and editor to this day, took the first-ever course in cable access production offered by the Falls Church Cable Access Corporation in 1988. Upon completion, Morrison and Benton teamed up for the Access Corporation’s first-ever locally-produced TV show, called “Eye on Washington,” a half-hour show where prominent figures from throughout the region were interviewed. Benton lined up and conducted the interviews, and Morrison was in charge of the production end. Over 50 editions of the show were taped and televised.
When Benton expressed interest in founding a newspaper in Falls Church, Morrison encouraged and advised him over numerous lunches in the cafeteria at the National Geographic headquarters in D.C. (where Morrison worked at the time). In May 1990, the “Eye on Washington” team produced the first “Election Night Live” that provided live TV coverage of the local Falls Church city election.
By December, Benton made the decision to launch the newspaper, counting on Morrison’s loyal and reliable guidance. The effort was initiated and sustained without a dime of financial support from anyone in Falls Church, but with the priceless moral support of Bob Morrison.