Obituary — Harrison Morton


Harrison Leon Morton (“Harry” or “Tim”) passed away Oct. 13, 2020, at the age of 81. He was born Oct. 19, 1938, in St. Paul, Minnesota, to Harvey Louis Morton and Rose Mary Horwath. His maternal family emigrated from Pamhagen, Austria, around 1900.

Harrison Morton
Harrison Morton

The Morton family arrived from England in 1634 aboard the ship “Anne” and worked as farmers in Massachusetts, New York, Ohio and Iowa before settling in St. Paul, Minnesota, for six generations. There, Morton married his wife of more than 58 years, Mary Diane (Coppini) Morton, on Aug. 25, 1962.

Morton is survived by his wife; his daughter, Mary Beth (Greg Copp); his sons Michael Thomas, Matthew Timothy (Jennifer Wyrsta), Mark Jeffrey (Lori Gowan) and Neal Patrick (Jennifer Szewczyk); and eight grandchildren, Andrew, Katie and Alex Copp; Alivia, Nora, Kelly, Avery and Riley Morton. He is also survived by his brother, Thomas Michael Morton of Minnesota.

His entire education, from grammar through graduate school, was completed in Minnesota. He attended Tilden and Holy Childhood primary schools in the Como Lake area of St. Paul before graduating from Saint Thomas Military Academy, finishing as class sergeant of arms and earning the rank of major. He was co-captain of the national champion rifle team, winning the Hearst national small-bore individual championship. He also belonged to the Crack Drill Squad and was the recipient of two eagle awards for academic achievement.

Morton completed his Bachelor of Science in forestry and Master of Science and Ph.D. in plant pathology at the University of Minnesota, working for the U.S. Forest Service in Colorado, Idaho and Ohio as an undergraduate. In graduate school he worked on numerous projects dealing with infection and decay of trees, Dutch elm disease, and oak wilt. In the summer of 1965 he ran the Plant Disease Clinic, a free diagnostic service offered by the University of Minnesota.

After completing studies at the University of Minnesota, Morton joined the faculty of the University of Michigan School of Natural Resources and Environment in 1966. There he served as an undergraduate recruiter and adviser, a masters and doctoral student mentor, an expert witness for numerous legal cases, and a consultant for Crown-Zellerbach (now Georgia-Pacific) in Oregon and Washington.

He rose to a full professor of forest pathology and urban forestry, and served as department chair, associate and interim dean, and director of the Nichols Arboretum before retiring in 2000.

He spent his early years fishing and hunting with his father, Harvey. He enjoyed snow skiing, fly-fishing, fly-tying and target shooting until health issues with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma shifted his interests to gardening, do-it-yourself projects at home, researching genealogy and reading fiction. But mostly, he enjoyed spending time with his grandchildren and attending their performances and sporting events.

Memorial contributions can be sent to the Nichols Arboretum. Leave a message for his family at 877-231-7900, or sign his guestbook at

Submitted by the Morton family


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