The couple moved to Paynesville in 1978, when Harold was promoted to postmaster of the Paynesville Post Office. He began his 38 years of federal service in the Air Force from 1957 to 1961, and in 1962, accepted a position with the St. Cloud Post Office until 1976, when he, his wife, Mary Ellen, and their three sons moved to Willmar. He was supervisor of the Willmar Post Office for two years until 1978, when they transferred to Paynesville, where he took over for Wilfred Butkofski as head postmaster.
At that time, their oldest son David, who is now head of sales and marketing of the Radisson Slavjanskaya Hotel in Moscow, was 11. Jared, senior writer with First Banks, Minneapolis, was eight, and Scott, a nondestructive testing technician in Fargo, was three.
"The education here was excellent," Mary Ellen commented. "That was important." Mary Ellen has devoted considerable time and energy throughout the years to making sure her sons, as well as the children of every other parent in the community, have more academic opportunities. She served on Paynesville Area School District's planning, evaluating, and reporting committee, which involves teachers, administrators, and community members in providing educational input.
She, along with Lynne Jacobson, also initiated the Paynesville Area High School Senior Academic Honors banquet which is held each year to honor students who excel academically. "Paynesville was heavy on sports, but there wasn't much to honor academics," Mary Ellen said. In 1992, she was recognized by the Paynesville Teachers Association, and received the Friends of Education award.
Both Harold and Mary Ellen have been long-time members of various Legion and Lions groups. Harold has also been involved in the Eagles, Moose, and Elk lodges. Mary Ellen has volunteered at the Good Samaritan Care Center and Koronis Manor as a beautician, and was Welcome Neighbor hostess in Paynesville for six years. The Morris' have also been active members of the St. Louis Catholic Church.
With three boys involved in Boy Scout Troop 34, the Morris' were also active, Mary Ellen serving as a cub scout leader, and Harold as treasurer, which he held for six years. Two of their sons earned the honor of Eagle Scout.
Even with the freedom to go anywhere they choose, they have no intention of moving from Paynesville. "We consider this our home," Harold said. Even the winters don't bother him. While with the post office, Harold often arrived earlier than usual during snowstorms, riding snowmobile into town, then catching a ride with someone if a road was open. Even when the mail didn't arrive, he was there at 5:30 a.m. to take calls. He said that is something he won't miss, but "I don't mind the winters here," he said, "as long as I don't have to be out in it."
The Morris' years in Paynesville have been marked with service to their community's school, parish, and residents. Even so, they never expected to be asked to serve as Grand Marshals. "This is an honor," Mary Ellen commented. Harold joked, "I keep saying, she's the Grand Marshal, I'm just riding along."
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