Shirlee Morris, 95, died peacefully the evening of Thursday, May 12, 2022, at St. John’s Nursing Home in Billings. She was born in Beach, North Dakota, on Feb. 9, 1927, to parents Denny and Arva Morris, and grew up on a farm and ranch in the area. Following her high school graduation from Wibaux High School, she went on to pursue her academic career and received a degree from Western Montana College, Dillon, in Education and also attended Eastern Montana College of Education in Billings to enhance her educational background. She taught one year in a Wibaux County grade school, 14 years in Forsyth and 20 years in Belfry until her retirement.
As she neared retirement, her credentials and dedication led her to be nominated as a candidate for the 1987 Montana Teacher of the Year, and while she didn’t win the competition, she likely provided strong competition to her peers.
Upon retirement, she enjoyed going to coffee klatches to discuss the solutions to current events and attending sporting events. Growing up, it was always a pleasure for her nephews to attend class B and C basketball tournaments with her as Shirlee was an avid sports fan, played basketball in high school as the center for Wibaux High School and was knowledgeable on all aspects of the game.
She was associated with Grace United Methodist Church in Billings.
Shirlee was very athletic. She loved bowling and had won trophies in both local and state tournaments, as evidenced by Shirlee and Florence Bean winning the Montana State bowling championship in 1959 with a 1022 scratch score.
Furthermore, she also enjoyed baseball, basketball, hockey and most any sports event she could watch or participate in. Her brothers were aware of her athletic prowess as they bought her a “fungo” bat for her teen birthday so she could hit them fly balls on the farm for practice, which she did, and when they had a game against a left-handed pitcher, they would enlist Shirlee’s arm to throw batting practice to them the day before the real game so they could get a feel for a ball coming from the left side. Dennison and Arva let the kids use a granary as “catcher” for her pitching and after numerous “practices” had to repair the granary siding from the repeated damage from her pitching “heat.”
She was a fan of the Billings Mustangs professional baseball team and had season tickets for the Billings Bulls professional hockey team, which left town years ago, but recent news says that professional hockey is on its way back to Billings, which Shirlee would have loved seeing happen.
Shirlee was the second oldest of six siblings. She was predeceased by her parents and four siblings, Jean St.Cyr of Sidney, Margaret Fanning of Cheyenne, Wyoming, Bob Morris of Billings and Kent, Washington, and infant Dennison Morris Jr. in 1924. Survivors include her youngest brother Richard, wife Tina of Menlo Park, California, and nieces and nephews (and their next generation offspring) who reside in California, West Virginia, Wyoming, Nevada, North Dakota, Colorado and Montana.
Visitation will be from 4:30 to 5:30 p.m. Monday, May 23, at Michelotti-Sawyers Mortuary, 1001 Alderson Ave. A memorial service will be at 9:30 a.m. Tuesday, May 24, at Grace United Methodist Church, 1935 Avenue B. Graveside services will be held at 4:30 p.m. Tuesday, at Beach City Cemetery, Beach, North Dakota.