SSGT William Rexford Fields “Bill” Morris

SSGT William Rexford Fields “Bill” Morris

New York, USA
Death 28 Nov 2014 (aged 97)
Gastonia, Gaston County, North Carolina, USA
Burial Black Mountain, Buncombe County, North Carolina, USA
Memorial ID 139402111 · View Source
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BELMONT ~ William Rexford Fields Morris, 97, was a son of the late W.C. Fields and Bessie Poole. He was preceded in death by his wife, Roberta Mabry Morris and daughter, Donna Lee Morris.
Bill married Roberta in 1940 and joined the 36th National Guard Infantry Division later federalized as the Army where he served in Africa, Italy, France and Germany during WWII. He later joined the Marine Corps and served for four years. He was the Executive Director of Junior Achievement and retired in 1982. Bill was a member of the Marine Corps League, World War II Last Man Club, American Legion, and Gaston County Veterans Council. Community-wise, he was a volunteer for Gaston Memorial Hospital and a member of the Rotary Club of Gastonia and a member of First Presbyterian Church.
Interment in Western Carolina State Veterans Cemetery, Black Mountain.
McLean Funeral Directors of Gastonia is serving the family of Mr. Morris.

Published in Gaston Gazette on November 30, 2014 and December 1, 2014


If you wanted a good story, Bill Morris could tell it, but the most interesting tale would be about his life.
Morris grew up in foster care, the son of a famed actor he met only once. Chapters of his life include serving his country, falling in love, raising a family and spending his retirement giving to his community.
Morris’ life story came to a close when he died Friday at the age of 97. “He was the most gallant, precious man that ever was, and he could tell the most wonderful stories about his life and his experiences,” said Eva McLean. McLean and Morris were fellow Rotarians. They met at the Gastonia Rotary Club that convenes Thursdays at noon, and they shared a table each week for about a decade.
“I don’t know a soul that didn’t love that man. Everybody loved that little man,” she said.


Morris grew up in foster care and found out when he was 12 that his father was W.C. Fields.
Morris said during a 2010 interview that his father sent money to support him until he was on his own.
He talked of one meeting with his father: “I went to see him in Encino, Calif. We sat in a car and talked. It was cold. My feet were cold. He gave me a pair of fur-lined boots and enough money to get home. I was about 16 or 17 then. Another time when I was a corporal in the Army and married, he sent me an autographed picture and 100 bucks.”


After high school graduation, Morris left his New Jersey foster home and hitchhiked to Dallas, Texas. He married Roberta Mabry in 1940 and joined the 36th National Guard Infantry Division that later federalized as the Army. He served in Africa, Italy, France and Germany during World War II. Morris later joined the Marine Corps and served for four years. “Once a Marine, always a Marine,” said McLean. “He was so proud of being Marine.”


After the military, Morris became the executive director of Junior Achievement in Florida, a nonprofit that provides business education for students. He retired in 1982 after 25 years. Morris moved to McAdenville more than a decade ago. His daughter lives here, and his wife needed to be in a good care facility. His wife has since died, but Morris moved forward with his devotion to community service. He joined the local Rotary Club and volunteered at the local hospital for years.


John Frye met Morris about seven years ago when Frye became the pastor at First Presbyterian Church. They also attended Rotary meetings — the one that they sometimes call the Old Men’s Club, Frye joked. Frye said he was always impressed by Morris’ upbeat nature. “A lot of people could’ve grown up that way and let it shape them in negative ways. Bill was somebody who was very optimistic. He was friendly, open and involved in the community,” he said.


Morris moved to into long-term care about a year ago, Frye said. Until then, he still drove, volunteered and made it to Rotary meetings. Frye described Morris as a man with a smile on his face and twinkle in his eye who loved to hear a good joke. “You just liked to see him. Some people just make you feel good by their presence. Bill was one of them,” he said.

Published in Gaston Gazette by Diane Turbyfill

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  • Maintained by: Find a Grave
  • Originally Created by: Sue Leitzsey Bradley
  • Added: 30 Nov 2014
  • Find a Grave Memorial 139402111
  • Find a Grave, database and images ( : accessed ), memorial page for SSGT William Rexford Fields “Bill” Morris (15 Aug 1917–28 Nov 2014), Find a Grave Memorial no. 139402111, citing Western Carolina State Veterans Cemetery, Black Mountain, Buncombe County, North Carolina, USA ; Maintained by Sue Leitzsey Bradley (contributor 46856105) .