Community mourns Morton’s passing

Published 5:13 pm Friday, October 14, 2016

Herbert being interviewed by a student for a video project on the Humane Society.

Herbert being interviewed by a student for a video project on the Humane Society.

A man who dedicated himself to serving his country, his community and his church was laid to rest on Monday.

Anselm Herbert Morton, III, known as “Herbert” to his many friends and “Bubba” to family members, passed away Friday, October 7 at his home on the Ridge following a brave battle with cancer. He was 73.

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A former naval aviator and a retired commander in the Naval Reserve, Morton worked for a number of years as a financial advisor for Met Life before retiring in 2015.  As long as his health allowed, he continued to enjoy traveling with wife Linda.

The Right Reverend Reid McCormick of Saint Thomas Episcopal Church in Greenville recalls the only times when his parishioner was absent from his favorite pew were due to illness or being out of town.

“And he would bring me bulletins from the churches they visited while traveling,” McCormick added. “He was a committed Christian and it showed. I remember him expressing his concern about the poverty of his fellow citizens and how to help lift them up . . . his work with our church’s food service was an example of that.”

A longtime member of the Greenville Lions Club where he had served in the capacity of president several times, Morton was instrumental in the organization of the Lions Memorial Day Celebration held in Confederate Park each year, says fellow Lion Hubert Little. “Herbert also worked very hard to help raise funds for the WWII memorial,” said Little, adding,“And he planned out the dedication ceremony for the memorial. Herbert was a very detailed and organized man—that’s where his military background really showed.”

Little describes Morton as one of the most dedicated and hardest-working Lions in the club. “He served as our president again in 2014-2015, and we saw a real growth in our organization. We were losing members, and he helped us turn that around,” Little said.

A native of Montgomery but one with close family ties to Butler County, Morton enjoyed childhood visits with his Crenshaw relatives on the Ridge and hearing stories of the people and places of long ago.

“Herbert was a very time-conscious man in general, a very efficient, deliberate individual,” recalls McCormick.

“However, there was one subject he’d lose all track of time over and that was history—particularly the history of the Crenshaw family and of Butler County.”

McCormick recalls receiving an informational package before his move to Greenville, including a very detailed account of St. Thomas that covered the first 150 years of the church’s history.

“That’s when I first became aware of someone named Herbert Morton, because he wrote that history going all the way back to 1858. He went back through all these old letters and documents, he researched and compiled it all,” McCormick explained. 

Morton penned a historical manuscript, “The War Diary of Henry Crenshaw,” slated for publication in 2017, and was working on a recollection of times spent playing with Happy, his childhood playmate on the Ridge.

Fellow Butler County Historical and Genealogical Society member Dr. Jean Thompson remembers her friend and fellow history buff as a man who not only recorded history for posterity, but also had a rare gift for presenting it in the most engaging of ways.

“Herbert was one of those people who could make history truly come alive. I always enjoyed his presentations, which were entertaining and informative,” Thompson said.

While he was deeply interested in the past, Morton is also described by friends and family as a man not content to simply sit on the sidelines when he could help make his community a better place for all—including its four-legged members.

Morton’s cousin Tom Crenshaw said Morton’s dedication to animals in need was undeniable.

“Bubba was so faithful to the humane society and a truly dedicated caregiver to their pets and all the animals they fostered at his home,” Crenshaw recalls. “He always gave 100 percent to whatever he did.”

Morton, who had served as BCHS president for a number of years, assisted with transporting county animals who had received rescue commitments on their journeys to fur-ever homes. When needed, he carried county residents’ pets to Montgomery and back for low-cost spay-neuter surgery.

From videotaping interviews about the humane society with local school students to appearing in PSAs with shelter pets awaiting adoption, Morton never backed down from an opportunity to promote animal welfare in Butler County and spread the word on the importance of spaying and neutering of cats and dogs.

Camellia City Bakery owner Ann Judah, the hostess for the humane society’s monthly meetings, remembers Morton as a warm-hearted individual who had a gift for putting others at ease.

“I heard someone say the other day that Herbert was the kind of person you could meet and he’d make you feel as if you had known him his entire life—and I absolutely agree,” Judah said.

Priscilla Davis, fellow St. Thomas parishioner and a BCHS board member, described McCormick’s description of Morton shared at his funeral as “perfect.”

“Reid said that Herbert had a servant’s heart and that was so true of him,” Davis said. “He gave so much of himself.”

Kandys Killough, BCHS vice-president, says those servant’s shoes will be “very tough ones to fill.”

“You don’t find someone with a passion for helping others combined with such strong leadership skills very often,” said Killough. 

The upcoming 2017 edition of the BCHS Pet Calendar will feature the following tribute to Morton:

We dedicate this 2017 edition of the Butler County Humane Society Pet Calendar to the memory of Herbert Morton, our longtime president. Herbert’s positive can-do attitude, genuine love for animals and strong leadership skills truly reinvigorated our organization, allowing us to more effectively help our county’s animals in need. We are deeply grateful to have been blessed with Herbert as our “fearless leader.” He will be greatly missed.

Little, who is already planning next year’s Lions Club Memorial Day Celebration, also plans a special tribute to a man so dedicated to the club’s ideals.

“I’ve told his wife Linda that we want to have an empty chair with a ribbon on it on the stage, to represent Herbert and just what he meant to us,” said Little. “He is going to be missed by so many he impacted in this community.”