Charles (Chuck) Morrison

March 15, 1951 - November 3, 2022

Obituary

One month before he passed, Chuck Morrison sent emails to some of his many family members, friends and acquaintances asking them to write the county in support of a sweeping plan to expand access to the Carbon River wilderness near Mount Rainier. It was the culmination of two decades of countless volunteer hours.


The day before Chuck passed, he helped Emily, the eldest of his two beloved granddaughters, graduate from training wheels to a two-wheeled bicycle. Cycling was one of Chuck’s life-long passions, which he delighted in sharing with Emily and her sister Hailey.


The morning of the day that he passed, Chuck volunteered for the early shift at a local elections’ office to observe the ballot count. Chuck believed in the sanctity of voters’ rights and fair elections and feared for American democracy.


Chuck died on Nov. 3 at his home in Tacoma, Wash., from a heart attack. He was 71 years old.
Throughout his life, Chuck was animated by all the ways the world is connected. He cherished his relationships and was energized by talking to loved ones and strangers alike. He had an enthusiasm for railways that connected communities. He wanted to help others find the links between the Pacific Northwest’s rich past and its present. He united diverse interests in the pursuit of projects to build trails and bridges that connected people to wild places and routes to safety.


Charles Robert Morrison was born in San Jose, Calif., on March 15, 1951, the son of Charles W. Morrison and Margaret (Wright) Morrison and the younger brother of Marjorie. Soon after his birth, the family moved to West Los Angeles. As a child, Chuck took summer road trips to visit Morrison family members at Lake Whatcom in Bellingham, Wash., seeding his love of the region. He marveled at the Northwest’s lush landscape, surprised by rivers that flowed year-round – unlike L.A. waterways that ran dry in the summer. When Chuck visited one of the area’s national parks as a little boy, he wondered aloud that it must take countless gardeners to landscape the forest.


In 1964, the family moved to Washington, settling in Shoreline. Chuck graduated from Shoreline High School and studied communications at the University of Washington. He left school and briefly followed in the footsteps of his dad, working at the U.S. Department of Agriculture inspecting winter wheat. The role ended quickly when the USDA discovered Chuck’s colorblindness. In 1972, he began a 25-year career at the container shipping company SeaLand, starting as a teamster and rising to the role of logistics manager. The company revolutionized cargo shipping and sparked Chuck’s interest in transportation.


Chuck met his future wife, Mary Stanton, in 1972 when they acted as best man and maid-of-honor at the wedding of their respective best friends. The two did not begin dating immediately, but their paths kept crossing and their relationship grew. The couple was intellectually well-matched, had similar life goals and valued family. Chuck introduced Mary to adventurous experiences, including exotic cuisines served at hole-in-the-wall eateries in Seattle’s Chinatown, a date choice that also appealed to his thrifty nature.


In February 1977, Chuck proposed to Mary in the gardens of Woodland Park Zoo and they were married three months later. The couple had two sons, Andrew and Alec. Always eager to impart some history, Chuck opted for the gravitas of a visit to Ellis Island over the tourist friendly Statue of Liberty on a family trip to New York City when the boys were only elementary school age. But Chuck had a lighter side as well, and he and his sons bonded over the irreverent, clever, absurdist humor of Monty Python, Mel Brooks and The Far Side comics.


After leaving SeaLand, Chuck turned his attention to volunteering on a series of land-use projects that aligned with his desire to better his community and preserve the natural environment. He focused on towns and wilderness areas along the Carbon River and northern slope of Mount Rainier. Chuck helped spearhead projects including the Foothills Rails-to-Trails Coalition, the Bridge For Kids Organization serving the town of Orting, and the Carbon River Forum, which advocated for the Carbon River Cooperative Action Plan.


The work was often slow going and Chuck grew frustrated when others didn’t embrace his vision. But he doggedly kept at it, evangelizing about each project’s possibilities. Most recently that meant regular trips to the former mining town of Wilkeson, where he pulled up a stool at the Nomad PNW café to urge people coming and going from Mount Rainier to support the action plan. Later this month, Pierce County leaders will decide whether to finalize the plan.


Chuck is survived by his wife Mary; son Andrew and his wife Jackie Zins; son Alec, his wife Andrea (Silvernale) and their children, Emily and Hailey; sister Marjorie Stiffler and her husband Gerald; and nieces Lisa and Kristi Stiffler; and his many sisters- and brothers-in-law and nieces and nephews.


A service and reception for Chuck will be held Wednesday, Nov. 16 at 11 a.m. at St. Theresa’s Parish at 3939 SW 331st St., Federal Way, Wash. In lieu of flowers or gifts to the family, Chuck would want support to go to Mount Rainier National Park via Washington’s National Park Fund, https://wnpf.org/support-parks/donate.

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Michelle Lewis-Hodges
Michelle Lewis-Hodges
22 days ago

Chuck’s wife, Mary, is a dear friend. I loved chatting with Chuck when our paths crossed. He had such a comforting presence and knew so much about so many things. He once loaned me a book about Lincoln, elaborating on politics of that time and how it linked to the now. I mourn the loss of Chuck, and wrap my arms around the Morrison family, hoping they know he is always watching over them.

John R. Olson
John R. Olson
22 days ago

I just learned of Chuck’s passing. His family sent me an email as my name and email address were in Chuck’s address book. My thanks for those who made the effort to reach out to Chuck’s many, many contacts and friends. I knew Chuck from the Foothills Coalition and the Carbon River Forum for 2 decades starting about 1990. His energy was contagious and his preservation efforts on behalf of the environment were relentless. Even though I retired and moved away to Eastern Washington in 2012, Chuck would make 1 or 2 contacts each year; I always appreciated hearing from him and getting updates on his work. He leaves behind a legacy worth following; he was a marvelous person. Rest in Peace, Chuck.

Rob Huff
Rob Huff
22 days ago

I am so sorry to hear of Chuck’s passing. I hadn’t interacted with Chuck in years, since the time that I worked for the City of Tacoma along with Mary. I always enjoyed our discussions. I wish you peace, Mary and family.

Dennis Brooke
Dennis Brooke
21 days ago

I met Chuck at Prairie Days in South Prairie this last summer where we talked about different Foothills Rails-to-Trails projects and ideas. We had made plans to hike a section of trail along the Carbon River this month–which will unfortunately not happen.
He is clearly a guy who made the world a better place through hard work and passion about ideas.

Milt Tremblay
Milt Tremblay
20 days ago

Chuck Morrison was one heck of a man who was passionate about tracks and trails. He acted as my advisor on the “Signal bungalows” on the Prairie Line Trail at UWT.

Rossana Zemek
Rossana Zemek
18 days ago

This is a beautiful expression of this wonderful man’s life. I am sending you and your family my deepest condolences and prayers of comfort.

Jean Contreras
Jean Contreras
17 days ago

I count my acquaintance with Chuck’s to be one of the jewels in my memories. He and I had some lively discussions about history and various unrelated issues. We all will miss him greatly. I know he is up there with his old friends, probably planning a huge mapping project for heaven. My condolences to his family and friends. RIP my friend,

John Hillding
John Hillding
17 days ago

John Hillding

David Hermansen
David Hermansen
15 days ago

David

David Hermansen
David Hermansen
15 days ago

Worked with Chuck when he was at Sea Land. Boy Scouts our kids became Eagle Scouts. Overall Great Person, friend and family guy. God Bless