In a mass email, Atlanta Ronald McDonald House Charities Tuesday announced its president and CEO, Linda M. Morris, died Monday at Hospice Atlanta, at age 65.
Morris died peacefully surrounded by close friends and family after suffering complications due to breast cancer, following a 17-month battle with the disease. She pioneered the nonprofit’s growth for 19 years.
Family will receive friends Wednesday from 6 to 8 p.m. at H.M. Patterson and Son - Arlington Chapel, 173 Allen Road in Sandy Springs.
A service to celebrate Morris’ life will be held at Peachtree Presbyterian Church, 3434 Roswell Road in Buckhead, Thursday at 11 a.m. A reception will follow the service.
“Linda was a remarkable and dedicated force in the life of ARMHC,” said Jeff Wansley, its board chair. “Her commitment to the charity and to the families we serve was outstanding. We all owe a great debt of gratitude to her and she has been such a tremendous influence and guidepost for all of our lives. She will be deeply missed by all of those involved with the charity.”
Morris was born Oct. 6, 1947, and was the daughter of Mildred and Luther Miller, who preceded her in death. The Lavonia native graduated from Anderson University in Anderson, S.C.
Morris was the visionary behind the strategic development and growth of the Atlanta Ronald McDonald House programs, the cornerstone of Atlanta Ronald McDonald House Charities. She is credited for the success of the two-phased house expansion which launched in 2005 with the capital campaign to build a new 50-room house in order to increase capacity by 300 percent and purchase property for Phase 2. The Phase 1 fundraising goal was exceeded in 2.5 years, and the new facility opened June 5, 2008 near Emory University and Children's Healthcare of Atlanta at Egleston in DeKalb County.
As a tribute to her many contributions and commitment to ARMHC, the board named the administrative wing of the new house on Gatewood Road in her honor. She was currently leading the effort to complete Phase 2 with a new 31-room Ronald McDonald House on Peachtree Dunwoody Road near Children's Healthcare of Atlanta at Scottish Rite in Sandy Springs. Primarily due to her efforts, the capital campaign for Phase 2 has now exceeded half of the campaign goal.
Prior to joining the staff of ARMHC, Linda held the position of director of community relations for Scottish Rite Children's Healthcare System, one of the leading pediatric hospitals which merged in 1998 with Egleston Children's Healthcare System to become Children's Healthcare of Atlanta. Before joining the staff at Scottish Rite in 1989, Morris was president of the hospital's 500-member auxiliary and led the group in its first fundraising efforts. During her tenure at Scottish Rite, the hospital purchased and donated a home that would become the second Ronald McDonald House, which opened in 1994.
As a key member of the development team, Linda's role included raising major funds for the construction and soliciting significant in-kind products and services for the new house, as well as encouraging volunteer and community support. She also guided the formation of volunteer groups to support both the new house and the first Atlanta house established in 1979.
Morris is survived by her sister, Libby Glenn; brother-in-law, Lee Glenn; niece, Caroline Ryff; nephew, Ryan Glenn; and many aunts, uncles and cousins. She will be interred with the ashes of her dogs, Boris, Kelly and Jesse.
Memorial contributions may be made to the Atlanta Ronald McDonald House Charities Capital Campaign, 795 Gatewood Road, Atlanta, Ga. 30329, or to the Atlanta Humane Society, 981 Howell Mill Road Atlanta, Ga. 30318.