1951 – 2021
Semper Fortis - Always Courageous
“If you only do what you can do, you’ll never be more than you are now.” – Master Shifu
LTJG Rodger Morris has crossed the bar. He passed away peacefully at his home in Camarillo, CA on 8th December 2021 following a short illness. He is survived by Barbara and Pamela, his two sisters, and their children and families; a host of salty Crew Family; and legions of grateful Sea Cadets, Boy Scouts, Sea Scouts, and former veterans.
He had deferred withdrawing his retirement, mostly as an incentive to himself whereby he made the larger donations to the ship, and lived very very frugally awaiting his 70th birthday. We can all take heart and lesson from his Life and seek out where we can be of service and help. While you’re at it, have Fun and find an Adventure! In this way, we all participate in celebrating all of his hard work and keeping his memory alive.
He will be sorely missed by all whose lives he touched and supported. Though he was involved in all types of philanthropic and charitable groups all his life, his favorite was his work with the U.S. Naval Sea Cadet Youth Program aboard Schooner Bill of Rights of which he was a mighty contributor and donor. A recent example of his generosity was the donation of a new rescue boat for the ship. He only asked the Captain on one condition: that we name her Jolly Rodger, which we did! As we process our human sadness at his passing, he left in his wake a great example to follow.
Life is what happens to us while we are busy making other plans.
— Henry Cooke. In 1964
When he was 15 years old he was hit by an impaired motorist, dragged a distance on the pavement and the driver fled the scene and left him for dead. While in the hospital the inner workings of the Universe provided an opportunity for one surgeon to try a never before procedure which saved his severely mangled broken legs and foot. The doctors told the parents Rodger would never walk again, and there were plans to amputate one or both legs. With the crushing of his bones in the accident went also a crushed dream of becoming a Naval Officer and specifically a Navy pilot. On that fateful day of the accident a remarkable chain of events turned a near death into an opportunity towards a destiny. A pioneering minded surgeon saved him and his legs and foot.
Rodger embodied the slogan from the U.S. Naval Sea Cadets: Innovate. Adapt. Overcome. He adapted to his decades of physical pain. With joyful determination he adapted to his suffering. He overcame all with a long life well lived. Even though the odds were completely stacked against him, he became his dream of a Naval Officer. Rodger received the Wings of Gold as a navigator. On the tall ship every single shipmate was in awe of his skills to navigate the tall ship. Rodger served in the U. S. Navy 1979-1986.
With the ranking of LTJG he served in Beirut. While stationed in Rota, Spain he began supporting and working with the Spanish Boy Scouts. Rodger has also worked to promote and support the Wounded Warrior Program. He spoke 6 languages. He loved music of all kinds. He knew nearly every word to every traditional sea shanty. He played the bagpipes. More recently he introduced the Sea Cadets to the ukulele giving them a traditional outlet to pass the time in between trainings. He named the instruments as “Weapons of Mass Distraction.”