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Morris, Stephen Jon

Stephen Jon Morris died on Saturday, April 19, at Village Shalom, following more than three years battling with cancer. He was nursed throughout this time by his devoted wife of 40 years, Bibie Chronwall.

Stephen was born in Denver to Esther and Sidney Morris. His younger brother Arthur predeceased him.

Stephen graduated with a Ph.D. degree in neurobiology from Stanford University. Throughout his life he was motivated by a burning desire to find out how things worked: his quest for understanding biological mechanisms took him a few years after graduation first to Denmark and then to Cambridge University in England, where he worked with Victor Whittaker in the Department of Biochemistry on the mechanism of nerve cell function in the brain. He moved with Whittaker to the Max-Planck Institute for Biophysical Chemistry in Göttingen, Germany, only returning to the USA in 1982 when he was offered a senior position with the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Md., followed by a position as program director at the National Science Foundation.

From there he was recruited to serve as professor and associate dean in the new School of Biological Sciences at the University of Missouri at Kansas City. He thus returned to the city of his family home in 1987, working within the university until spending the final three years before his retirement in 2003 leading the image analysis unit at Stowers Research Institute. His devotion to research stimulated graduate students and assistants in his laboratory to pursue successful careers in science; they also became treasured lifelong friends. He was recognized by all as a generous and considerate colleague and collaborator.

Stephen’s passion outside the laboratory was antique cars. With many good friends he devoted his time to rebuilding, restoring and exhibiting English cars, both racers and fashionable saloons, originating in the period 1930 to 1960. He won several awards, not to mention great personal satisfaction.

He enjoyed music, from playing American folk-music for charity in Göttingen to listening with keen understanding to classical music and to hosting a series of intimate at-home concerts of the early Bach Aria Soloists and Cello Rondo. He was a born architect and designer, enjoying remodeling the old house in Kansas City and improving the log cabin in the old country with tradition-true additions.

Stephen’s mother Esther Loeb, his loving wife and research partner Bibie, and three adorable cats survive him.

A funeral service was to be held at The Louis Memorial Chapel on Wednesday, April 23, after which Stephen was to be laid to rest beside his brother at Rose Hill Cemetery.

Stephen supported a number of charities, but donations to any of the following would be particularly appreciated by his family: Harvesters, The Prairie Foundation and any of the local animal shelters.

Online condolences may be shared at www.louismemorialchapel.com. 

Arr: The Louis Memorial Chapel, 816-361-5211.