1901 - 1986
Don Morse was born January 6, 1901 in Foster City, Michigan to William and Elizabeth (White) Morse; he was one of twenty children. The family moved frequently pursuing logging jobs for his father. When Mr. Morse was nine years of age his mother died forcing his father to split up the children amongst aunts and uncles. Mr. Morse and his five older brothers remained with their father and began a two year trip by wagon to Snohomish to live with his grandparents.
When the war broke out Mr. Morse’s older brothers enlisted in the military prompting him to move to Wenatchee and begin employment with a family looking after their children. It was during this time that Mr. Morse graduated from high school. He set his sights on becoming a horticulturalist and enrolled at Washington State College, managing a large dormitory to cover his school expenses. Mr. Morse spent three years in the National Guard and one year in ROTC.
Mr. Morse continued to return to Chelan County during the summer months and after his undergraduate schooling was completed returned to work full time as an orchard manager, overseeing ranches in Chelan, Orondo and Cashmere. In 1934 he began work for the Chelan Valley Warehouse, it was not long until he was promoted to shed foreman. His trademark whistle and smile was remembered fondly by those who worked for him. In 1954 Mr. Morse was given the job of fieldmen for the Chelan Valley Warehouse, a novelty in the industry at the time as he was one of the first two fieldmen in the region. His employment with Chelan Valley Warehouse, now known as Chelan Fruit Cooperative, spanned over forty years and several mergers.
Mr. Morse never married or had children of his own but his community was blessed by his love and devotion to Chelan’s young people. Town lore is that Mr. Morse regularly attended youth sporting events to distribute free apples to community members. In 1946 Mr. Morse purchased a parcel of land and fixed it up for kids to come and play games, it was known as Don Morse Park (the first).
“Proxy Don, Uncle Don, Super Scouter, Doctor Don, Geologist Don, Botanist Don, Lifesaver Don, Fisherman Don” and so on were some of the names he was given as Scoutmaster of Troop 53, a position he held for 37 years. It is his role in guiding the growth of over 1000 boys that Mr. Morse was most highly celebrated. At one time, Mr. Morse had the largest troop in the United States. In 1950 he received the highest honor in Scouting, the Silver Beaver award. Through Mr. Morse’s dedication and encouragement, fourteen of his troop members earned Eagle Scout awards.
The community of Chelan bestowed many honors on Mr. Morse for his selfless contributions to the community’s youth, including Citizen of the Year in 1954 and Citizenship Award in 1977, Distinguished Service Award by the Chelan Jaycees, honorary life memberships in the Lake Chelan Grange and the Chelan PTA, and following his death, the city’s public park was dedicated in his honor and renamed Don Morse Memorial Park. Over 1000 signatures were collected in support of the park’s dedication in 1987.
Mr. Morse was a member of the Chelan United Methodist Church, the Lake Chelan Lions Club, Chelan Rod and Gun Club, Lake Chelan Grange, and Lake Chelan Eagles Aerie 2218, where he served as president in 1946.
Members of Chelan Fruit Cooperative created this scholarship in honor of Don Morse. It is available to graduating seniors who parents are employees or growers of cooperative.
Information compiled thanks to the records kept at the Chelan Historical Society and the Lake Chelan Mirror.