Ron Morris, one of the pioneer leaders of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes (FCA), passed away on his 86th birthday on January 7, 2020 at his home in Houston. A native of Shawnee, Oklahoma, Ron attended the first FCA Conference at Estes Park, Colorado, in 1956 and studied to be a Methodist minister. In 1965, he joined FCA staff in Kansas City and played a prominent role in establishing a firm foundation for the movement over the next 21 years until 1986. Ron was instrumental in the formation of high school and college Huddles, summer Conferences (now called Camps), Weekend of Champions and coaches’ breakfasts and dinners.
Near the end of his tenure, he served as FCA’s Vice President of Development overseeing national fundraising. He initiated the Tom Landry Associates and Branch Rickey programs, worked with major donors, and helped raise funds for the current FCA Support Center across Interstate-70 from Arrowhead Stadium. Ron was associated with Kansas City Chiefs founder, Lamar Hunt, because they were both students at Southern Methodist University (SMU). Through that association, Lamar became an FCA Board Member and the FCA staff enjoyed ten season tickets to Chiefs games (especially when the Chiefs won the Super Bowl in 1970!).
Ron was an outstanding basketball player. At SMU, he helped the Ponies win three Southwest Conference Championships and reach the Final Four in 1956. SMU lost to Bill Russell and San Francisco, the eventual 29-0 champions, in the semifinals. In the consolation game, SMU was defeated by the Temple Owls. Ron would always laugh and say, “I held Hal Lear (their great player) to 48 points!” SMU finished with a 25-4 record.
After college, Ron attended Perkins Seminary in Dallas and served on the staff at the First Methodist Church. Charged to start a church in Oklahoma City at age 27, he followed this call. Today, the church, Chapel Hill United Methodist, is a prominent church in the city. His friend Jerry Bugg remembered, “Ron was tireless, energetic and displayed great enthusiasm in starting that church. It became the fastest-growing Methodist church in Oklahoma.”
As an FCA staff member, Ron was aggressive and passionate to serve coaches and athletes. Constantly in touch with people by telephone, he also wrote notes of gratitude and appreciation to faithful supporters across America. He was a gifted speaker behind the pulpit and gave team devotions, delivered profound messages at FCA events, and offered encouraging words to the staff. He was a great teammate for our small, national staff officing at the Traders National Bank Building on 12th and Grand streets in Kansas City. Our staff included James Jeffrey, Dick Harp, LeRoy King, Gary Warner, Ray Hildebrand and myself in earlier years.
“Ron Morris epitomized the FCA staff spirit,” said Gary Warner, former communications director and Christian Athlete magazine editor. “He was an instant friend. His smile and personality would light up a room. And his heart overflowed with the FCA mission.” Jim Noel, longtime staff member, said, “Ron’s infectious joy of life impacted everyone. Whether it was his ‘Shawnee Shuffle’ through the office as he learned of a donor’s gift, a word of encouragement in passing, a wonderful neck rub, or a bit of his wit. We thank God for using Ron to fashion this ministry.”
Ron is an FCA legend and now he’s in God’s Hall of Fame. There’s no doubt that the Lord welcomed him with, “Well done, thy good and faithful servant.”