The Mount Clemens Public Library Board of Trustees, administration and staff mourn the passing of library trustee emeritus Betty Lou Morris, who died on May 31, 2018.
There are Friends of the Library, and then there are friends of the library. Betty Lou Morris was a true and steadfast friend of the Mount Clemens Public Library for over half a century. When she first arrived in town with her husband, physician Gerald W. Morris, and their sons in the late 1950s, one of her first orders of business was to apply for a library card. That first visit to Mount Clemens Public Library, then located in the Carnegie building, began a relationship that would endure for the rest of her life.
During the socially turbulent 1960s, Betty Lou Morris served as a member of the Mount Clemens Board of Education. At the time, the public library was operated by the school district, and a new facility was sorely needed. As a member of the school board in that era, Mrs. Morris was part of the process of building a new home for the library across from the high school on Cass Avenue.
In the 1970s, after completing her tenure with the Board of Education, Mrs. Morris became one of the founders of the Macomb County Genealogy Group at the library, and served as its chair for many years. The Genealogy Group quickly became much more than a casual group of people interested in family research. Under the guidance of Betty Lou Morris, the group worked tirelessly to fund and develop resources for the local history and genealogy collections of Mount Clemens Public Library. Over the years, the relationship between the library and the Genealogy Group strengthened until the group became a de facto Friends of the Library organization. The Macomb County Genealogy Group has raised many thousands of dollars for the library to fund purchase of equipment, microfilm, books and databases over the years. Most recently, they helped to raise funds for the library’s elevator repair and new digital microfilm readers.
In 1994, when a change in state law required that the library separate from the school district to become a independent district library, Betty Lou Morris stepped up again to serve as the first president of the newly-appointed Mount Clemens Public Library Board of Trustees. She continued her service as a member of the library board for 22 years, until declining health forced her retirement in 2016. Grateful for her long service and tireless advocacy for the library, the board of trustees designated her a trustee emeritus upon her retirement.
Always a ready ambassador for the library, a friend to its director and staff, and true believer in the role of public libraries in the advancement of a democratic way of life, Betty Lou Morris never flagged in her interest in library affairs. During the last few months, as compounding health problems took an increasing toll and she was no longer able to visit the library in person, she kept in touch by phone and e-mail to stay informed about the search for a new director and changes that were on the horizon for her beloved Mount Clemens Public Library. As always, she was the pure definition of a library advocate.
No library ever had a truer friend. She will be sorely missed.