Elizabeth “Libby” Morrison liked to send people cards. It didn’t matter the occasion — those close to her received cards celebrating birthdays, anniversaries, holidays and even just another year of friendship. It was part of Libby’s magic: Her selflessness astounded those who knew her.
Morrison had been an employee of the College’s food services for 33 years when she died on Tuesday, Aug. 8, 2017 after a year-long battle with illness.
“Everybody will miss her cards,” said AVI employee Helen Gaines, who started working for the College’s food services the same year as Morrison. “I still have the last one I got from her.”
Morrison grew up in Mount Vernon with her sister, Juanita Addlesperger, who is a Kenyon collection services specialist. Addlesperger recalls receiving a card from Morrison as early as high school. Morrison drew the card herself, decorating the front with a picture of a “high school girl,” Addlesperger said. (This was atypical: most of her cards were store-bought, with handwritten notes inside.)
George Costanzo ’19 remembers his favorite “Libby card.” It came last spring, after Costanzo arranged for the Kokosingers, Kenyon’s all-male a capella group, to serenade Morrison in the middle of the Peirce Dining Hall servery. After the performance, Libby sent the Kokosingers a gift bag that read “Happy Birthday” with candy, a plain blue t-shirt for Costanzo, and a thank-you card inside.
“One thing that stuck out to me was that she didn’t even want us to come and sing for her,” Costanzo said. “She wanted us to come and sing for her and the AVI workers. She loved all of them and they were her best friends.”
Morrison was a passionate, enthusiastic employee who never missed a day of work — “never, even up until the very end,” AVI Office Manager Theresa Riley said.
Morrison worked until June 2017. On the last day that Morrison was able to work, Riley had to carry her out to her car because her legs were too weak.
Morrison loved work because she loved to interact with the students, Gaines said. She remembered everyone’s names and would even keep in touch with students well after they graduated.
“Libby was the first person to call out students on some of their stupidity, like taking Peirce cups or not bussing their trays,” said Matthew Eley ’15, who worked with Libby during his six-month stint as an AVI worker in high school. “But if students took the time to talk with her, she would all but adopt them.”
At any given moment, one could find Morrison chatting with students in the servery and sharing stories about the great loves of her life: her horses and German shepherds, AVI employee Rose Pitsenberger said.
When she died, she was the proud owner of two horses — Somber and Honey — as well as two ornery German shepherds. Last week, Somber was put down due to a broken leg.
Whenever Morrison found stray animals near her farm in Howard, Ohio, she would take care of them until they were strong enough for her to deliver them to the Knox County Humane Society, of which she was a member, Addlesperger said.
“I remember thinking, ‘This woman just cares so much about living things and likes caring for things,’” Costanzo said.
Family ties were as important to her as relationships with her animals, students and fellow AVI employees, Addlesperger said. Addlesperger celebrated 50 years of service for the College in June and, when she was called up to retrieve her award during the ceremony in Peirce Dining Hall, Morrison emerged with a celebratory cake. Several fellow AVI workers followed behind her to make sure she was protected if she fell, Addlesperger said.
Libby is survived by her husband, Rick Morrison; a daughter, Carrie Morrison; a son, Donald Morrison; two grandchildren, Daniel Morrison and Jaylen Pruitt; a brother, Chester Earl Thompson; and Addlesperger.
“[Morrison’s] death is a reminder that there are no parts of Kenyon so good as to be fixed in place,” Eley said. “The best we can do is enjoy their presence today.”