Once a Bearcat, Always a Bearcat: Lon Morris College Remembers
By: Sherri Gragg
For 158 years, Lon Morris College nurtured the minds, hearts, and souls of the young men and women who crossed its threshold in search of an education; They were not disappointed. According to former Lon Morris president, Dr. Faulk Landrum, the school was named one of three of the best two-year colleges in the United States by U.S. News and World Report for its stringent commitment to academic excellence.
But for the scores of students who proudly claimed the mantle of “Bearcat,” Lon Morris offered something more than an education. It welcomed them into a family.
When the treasured institution closed its doors in 2012 after filing for bankruptcy, it was a heartbreaking loss for the faculty, students and alumni who called it home.
An Evening to Remember
On November 17, 2018, Lon Morris alumni gathered to remember, and celebrate, their beloved school. The event, Lon Morris Remembers, was organized by the Rev. Barbara Hugghins, First UMC Jacksonville, and the Cherokee County Historical Commission. The event grew out of the gift of a collection of Lon Morris artifacts from the Texas Annual Conference Archives to the Cherokee County Historical Commission, including but not limited to scores of historical documents and beautiful artwork from the school.
“When Barbara asked me if the Cherokee County Historical Commission would be interested in some items related to Lon Morris history, you can guess that I said, ‘Yes, yes, and yes!’” said Deborah Burkett, Cherokee County Historical Commission.
Speakers for the evening included, the Rev. Dr. Jimmy Reese, who offered the invocation; Senator Robert Nichols; Cherokee County Judge, Chris Davis, and Lon Morris Alumni, Wendol Cook.
Lon Morris historical preservation efforts will not conclude with the evening’s reunion. Burkett announced plans for a project to collect memories of the school from alumni and former staff. These memories will join a compilation of videos and music relating to the school on a DVD for distribution.
“Many in Texas, especially in Jacksonville, still grieve the closing of this storied institution,” Burkett said. “But greatness can live on through heartfelt memories of former teachers and students; through tangible items such as old photographs and documents.” (Lon Morris College: Pieces of History Come Home by: Deborah Burkett, Jacksonville Progress, March 17, 2018).