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Spotlight on … the Morris Family

The Morris Family

Born and raised in San Francisco, Susan (Sue) Smith and Mark (Mickey) Morris met in 1956 at Lowell High school, and were married in 1962. They moved to Marin County in 1968, and raised their two children, Kathy and Steve. They shared a deep love of family, travel, theater, and community service, and surrounded themselves with an amazing group of friends with whom they enjoyed games, travel, good meals, and adventures. 

Mickey became an optometrist, and chose to work in San Francisco’s Mission District. In the role, Dr. Mark Morris was determined to bring sight to anyone in the community in need, and was an advocate for increased optometric services provided by Medi Cal. Sue served her local community on school boards for 12 years and worked as a curator, archivist, and historian, specializing in Western United States History, and was the Director of the Judah Magnes Museum in Berkeley. 

As loyal Cal BerkeleyFans, they held season tickets for four decades and went camping annually at the Lair of the Bear. As fourth generation San Franciscians, Sue and Mickey were also devoted San Francisco Giants fans, and baseball had been an important part of their life, since the Giants came to San Francisco in 1958 and played at Seals Stadium.

Mickey Morris wearing a Cal hat

When Mickey was diagnosed with ALS in October 2008, they were fortunate during this difficult time to be surrounded, not only by his close friends and family, but also by a group of tireless and deeply compassionate caregivers, and the multidisciplinary team at the ALS Center at UCSF. It was while on a visit with ALS Clinic Director, Dr. Catherine Lomen-Hoerth, in November 2008 that they became aware of an educational event about ALS research hosted by ALS Golden West. They decided to get involved, and registered for Golden West care services. They also attended ALS Awareness Day with the San Francisco Giants. Sadly, Dr. Mark Morris died of ALS on August 17, 2010.

Sue and Mickey were married for 48 years, and the experience of his two year battle with ALS was transformative for her. Recognizing the challenges facing other families living with ALS, Sue made a decision that she wanted to help others. She joined the volunteer leadership at ALS Golden West in 2011 as the Chair of the Fund Development Committee, and subsequently became Chair of the Campaign for Cures and Care. Sue served as Vice-Chair of the Board of Directors until 2016, and then as Board Chair from 2017 until 2020. She remains active as a board member, and as a committee member of the Champions for Cures and Care

“This is a disease that devastates families, and there is much to be done to better serve people with ALS and their loved ones,” said Sue Morris, at the 2018 Champions for Cures and Care Celebration.

In recent years, with a deep recognition of the significant issues facing family caregivers, Sue, Kathy and Steve together decided to support the mission of ALS Golden West in a new way. They wanted to help to fund the many critically-needed programs and novel initiatives that provide vital and transformative support to caregivers with a loved one with ALS. Together, they launched the Morris Family Caregiver Initiative to help provide meaningful support for caregivers served by ALS Golden West.

This year, to kick off the holiday season of giving, the Morris Family is matching all gifts up to $15,000 to provide vital help to individuals and families and to power progress in the search for treatments and cures for ALS. Please make your gift and double your donation today.

Our deepest thanks to Sue, Kathy, and Steve for your commitment to ALS Golden West, and for all you do in support of the ALS community.

The Morris Family at Thanksgiving 2023 in Howarth Park, Santa Rosa, California

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