John B. Morse
February 12, 1934 – January 2, 2023
Preceded in death by wife, Anita Morse; parents, Benjamin and Helen Morse; brother, Robert Morse; sister, Virginia Cordes.
Survived by daughter, Cari Person (Ed); son, John Morse (Kit); son, Scott Morse; 7 grandchildren; 7 great-grandchildren; nieces and nephews.
VISITATION: Thursday, January 5th, 5-7pm, West Center Chapel. SERVICE: Friday, January 6th, 10:30am, West Center Chapel.
Interment: Forest Lawn.
Memorials will be directed by the family.
A letter from Jack Payne
With 50 years of teaching and coaching experience to his credit, from 1958 to his retirement in 2008, John Morse packed a lot of living, giving, and concern for his fellowman onto his 5 foot 8 inches, 140-pound frame. He began baseball with the Murphy’s Midgets under Coach Duce Belford in 1950. He taught at Omaha Tech High School from 1958-1984 until its closing and then at Benson High School from 1984 until he retired in 1993 to end a 35-year public school career. Himself a Benson High School King Of Sports, as a guard on Coach Scotty Orcutt’s basketball teams, Morse won Intercity honors and was 2nd team Intercity Baseball for Coach Orcutt as a Catcher. He caught 4 years for Coach Virg Yelkin at Omaha University and played 4 seasons for OU basketball teams, 2 under Yelkin and 2 under Coach Jack Cotton.
In his career, John won 15 letters in the two sports, 7 at Benson and 8 as a student-athlete at Omaha University. He had the honor of catching Jackie Brandt for the Benson High School Running Rabbits and then caught Bob Gibson for the Woodbine, Iowa Whiz Kids in the 1954 semi-pro ball. A member of both Benson and Tech High School Halls of Fame, John coached an unbeaten Freshman team for Tech in 1963 and added a 1966 state title in baseball for the Trojans. He still works as an official at the Nebraska State High School track meet for 38 years now.
Holding BS and MS education degrees, John was a noted exponent of History, Human Relations, and multicultural programs as a teacher and author. He taught history and ethnic studies exposing students to Black history, American Indian history, Chicano-American history, and Asian American history. He was a member of the Nebraska Advisory Committee, which helped schools to include multicultural education in their classrooms.
John wrote the Teachers Manual for integrating Black History into American History Textbooks for the Omaha Public Schools. He also taught Human Relations in 1992 and 1993 at UNO and Metropolitan Community College for classes in Minority Group Human Relations. As a recipient of many special awards and honors in his field, including being the OEA Human Relations Teacher of the Year; the Benson Booster Club’s Teacher of the Year; recipient of the state Cooper Foundation Award for excellence in teaching; and of the Peter Kiewit Foundation’s $5,000 Teacher Achievement Award plus many other notable citations. For 11 years, he sponsored the Miss Black Tech pageant here in Omaha and was a Miss Nebraska pageant Ambassador. Over his career, John points with pride to his having had the opportunity to work as a teacher or coach with outstanding students who have each made great contributions to our sports, education, or civic lives.
A portion of the list includes:
Johnny Rodgers, John Clark, Vernon Slaughter, Ron Boone, Preston Love, bob Griego, Phil wise, Walt Jernigan, Steve Takechi, Larry station, Kathy Tyree, Walt Henderson, Roy Lee, Anita McCaugh, Francine Ashby, Thomas Warren, Ron Bartee, John Lovelace, Roger Sindelar, Jerry Mosser, Franklin Thompson, Kathy Trotter, Mike Green, Mildred Tucker, and Martha Okeson-just to name a few.
Welcome, John Morse, to the Omaha Baseball Oldtimer’s Sports Hall Of Fame.
We said goodbye to my Papa John today. He was on hospice since last week and passed surrounded by family at his home. He was my last living grandparent.
My grandpa was an educator for 36 years with OPS. He taught at Tech High School until it closed in 1984 and then finished his career at Benson High School. After retirement, he taught part-time at Metropolitan Community College for a few years. He taught American History and was one of the first Ethnic Studies teachers in Omaha. He wrote many textbooks on Black American History and Native American History, which was very progressive during his time. He was very proud of his accomplishments as an educator and coach. He made a huge impact on his students over the years, as well as in the Omaha community. He always beamed with pride when speaking of his former students and his love for teaching.
He also loved to talk about Sports just as much as his love for teaching. He was the “Sports King” in high school (no surprise!) and loved to tell everyone all about it! He continued his love for sports by coaching during his teaching career. He was passionate about Husker Football, Celtics Basketball, and Yankees baseball. I always admired his dedication to his students and how charitable he was to them. Former students have even considered him a father figure, and they speak very highly of him.
Although we are heartbroken to lose him, I am happy he can be reunited with my Grandma Anita. I know he missed her dearly (as we all have) since she’s been gone. I will be sad to see your spot at Sunday dinner empty, but I know you’ll be there in spirit, raving about how good the food is and raiding the candy dish. I will miss your thoughtful conversations and inquisitive questions about what is going on with everyone. I hope you have endless Root Beer to drink, and your sports teams are always winning up in heaven. Love you, Papa John… Rest in Peace!