Bay Ridge’s Larry Morrish celebrated as an icon

Larry Morrish and his wife, Phillipa Morris, celebrating the Guyana Folk Festival in Brooklyn some years ago.
Photo by Tangerine Clarke

Lawrence “Larry” Morrish, a humanitarian of Bay Ridge who became a fixture in the Guyanese community after he married Guyanese-born Phillipa Duncan Morris, the founder and CEO of Etiquette Training International, died on Feb. 8 after a brief illness. He was 71.

Last Saturday, was a cold windy day, but the warm heart of Larry was felt in the thundering tributes at Our Lady of Angels Church on 4th Avenue in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn. He was called one of the great characters of Bay Ridge. Someone who grew up in a loving home, and in turn shared that love with his community.

Many mourners cried as they listened to Monseigneur Jamie Gigantiello call Morrish a caring, loving person who put everyone’s needs before his own.

“Larry brought people from different backgrounds and ethnicities together, he knew everyone in the community. We are here to celebrate his life and all the accolades he received on this earth. He was a leader who helped the youth and the elderly, he took care of business,” added Monseigneur Gigantiello.

“Let’s make Bay Ridge a ‘village’ in honor of Larry, an icon of this community. He was involved in this village for 50 years, and for 20 years Larry lit up Bay Ridge at Christmastime. He lit up our lives by sharing in his unique way. A light that we must share in Larry’s honor,” said Gigantiello, adding, “Larry lived a good life.”

Educated in Bay Ridge, Morrish dedicated his life to civic society, co-founded BRAVO- the first Volunteer Ambulance Service in Bay Ridge. Inspired by his Irish lineage Morrish he help found the St. Patrick’s Parade in 1990.

Larry’s niece, Penny Kelly Santo, said he was a guy with a sunny personality.

She remembered her larger-than-life uncle as outgoing, and someone who made people feel instantly welcome. “Larry was like a small-town mayor in the neighborhood. Walking down Fifth Avenue with Larry was like walking with a politician canvassing the areas. He would stop every few feet to talk with someone he knew, and he knew everyone and they loved him for his devotion to all that was good in Bay Ridge,” she said.

“Larry was an optimist, and made community service and activism important elements of his life,” said Santo. After he was medically discharged from the army after a brief stint, he worked with the soldiers at the Fort Hamilton Army Base showing respect for the armed forces and the service they give to their country. In this vein, he volunteered with the army and the Fifth Avenue Merchants to serve residents affected by Hurricane Sandy.

Kelly Santo added that Larry’s devotion to service won him many friends, but it also contributed to him finding the love of his life, his widow Phillipa with whom he met on a blind date and shared his life for 20 years.

In addition to organizing the Bay Ridge Unity Task Force, Larry was also appreciated for the many initiatives he put in place including “A Night at the Races” and the “Academy Awards Gala,” fundraisers that helped to beautify the St. Nicholas Home for the elderly.

The overwhelming tributes and love poured in for the big-hearted, jovial Morrish, who was given the title Commander Sergeant Major for his dedication to the Ft. Hamilton Army Base. For this, the to brass celebrated his memory at a repast luncheon at the Ft. Hamilton Army Base Community Club. There, Commander Joseph Davidson, Deputy Commander Dan Bradshaw and Retired Lt. Linda Duncan expressed thanks to Morrish for his unwavering support and dedication to the army.

Friend of 41 years, Myles Davis reminisced about the great life he shared with Morrish, and quipped that his hair became gray because of the hectic, but wonderful times he shared with his buddy.

The Guyanese Veterans Association, representative who met Larry in 1966, said the vets has lost a true friend of strong character. “We feel your grief, he said to widow Phillipa Morrish, and other family members.

Socialite Gem Fraser, who was the lookout when Morrish came to pick up Phillipa for their first date, recalled the gentleman who showed up at the door with red roses, and said the “Oscar goes to Larry,” thanking Morrish for the exceptional work he did to raise funds for the elderly at his “Annual Oscars Gala.”

Married to Morrish for two decades, Phillipa recalled the love she and Larry shared, many of those years she spent hearing the words — “I love you” from Larry.

In a tribute to the man that she said fell head-over-heels in love with her, she sang “I Must Have Done Something Good,” the same song she sang at their wedding.

Caribbean community officials, Councilmember Matheau Eugene, President of the Guyana Tri-State Alliance, Patricia Jordan-Langford and President of HEROC, Lorna Welshman-Neblett, also paid their respects to the Morris family.

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