Rocky Morris’ legacy continues
Those we love truly never die, but live in our hearts forever – a quote that began the obituary of Ronald “Rocky” Morris, 55, after he was killed on June 14, 2013 at CF Industries in Donaldsonville. The Donaldsonville Fire Department and CF Industries showed Monday, Morris will never be forgotten as the formerly McCall-Palo Alto Fire Station on Highway 1 South right outside of the Donaldsonville City Limits was named in his honor – Ronald “Rocky” Morris Fire Station.
Dozens gathered for the honoring and unveiling of the new sign while Donaldsonville Fire Department’s Chief Chuck Montero spoke on the impact Morris had in the local fire departments and as an employee at CF Industries.
“This is as special to me and to us with the fire department as it is to you all gathered here today,” Montero said in his opening statement.
Morris, a Donaldsonville native and Belle Rose resident, is survived by his wife, Jeannie, three daughters: Alicia Falsetta, Alaina Paine, and Ali Morris, parents, siblings and many other family and friends.
Jeannie Morris thanked Montero and Ryan Schexnayder, Safety Supervisor at CF, for their efforts in taking “this idea and making it a reality.”
“I appreciate that and yes Rocky is smiling down on us,” Jeannie Morris said. “Please know how very grateful we are to everybody who has joined us tonight, and helped us, prayed for us, and supported us. We truly feel blessed to be a part of this community and to have you guys as friends. Thank you very, very much.”
Montero said the idea of honoring Morris was spearheaded by Schexnayder and he thanked him and CF for their contributions along the way.
Before unveiling the new sign naming the station, Schexnayder had another presentation to make, a plaque.
“Rocky was a great friend and mentor to all of us,” Schexnayder said. “The fire department, anytime we come here, not only will see the sign but also we’ll see a plaque with his picture and the fireman’s prayer that we live by. So every time we come to the station, we’ll see the sign but he’ll also be the one who greets us as we walk through the door.”
Before the sign was unveiled, tears were shed amongst the majority of the crowd as Jeannie Morris sent out thank you’s to areas such as the Ascension Parish Council and Parish President Tommy Martinez for their support and allowing this to happen and many more.
“The volunteers and the firemen, I would pass here and see you guys painting on the roof, cleaning. Thank you all so much,” Jeannie Morris said. “This is awesome and it’s an honor for me to know that you guys feel the same way about him that we did. That means so much to us.”
Jeannie Morris said the station holds a lot of memories for her daughters. She said they learned so much and “this fire station became a part of them and to have this station named in his honor, words can’t explain how much this means.”
“Now my grandchildren will know when they pass and see this how special this place was to him,” Jeannie Morris said.
Jeannie Morris added, “If there is one thing I’ve learned over the past couple of months is that Rocky had an abundance of friends. I knew he was great, but I didn’t know you guys did.”
However, Jeannie Morris wasn’t just saying thanks on Monday as her late husband was honored, she also was giving as she and her family made a presentation donating to the Fire Department in the name of Ronald “Rocky” Morris. Montero accepted the donation.
“It’s through the kindness and generosity of all of these friends and our family that today we are able to present the fire station with a donation in Rocky’s honor,” Jeannie Morris said.
After Jeannie Morris finished, her three daughters pulled the ropes that blanketed the sign with that read “Ronald ‘Rocky’ Morris Fire Station.”
The fire departments and volunteer fire departments spent weeks on cleaning and painting the newly-named Ronald “Rocky” Morris Fire Station and Montero said Morris would have been so proud to see them all work as a team. Morris began his firefighting career at that station then known as the McCall-Palo Alto in the early 1980’s, according to Montero.
Morris rose to the position of Fire Chief where he served for several years. Morris also worked at CF Industries for 34 year. At CF, Montero said he did more than just work on the plant, he was on the rescue team, the fire brigade team and always “assisting people.”
“Rocky continued to serve even when he was not fire chief anymore,” Montero said. “He remained here serving just as a firefighter with the Donaldsonville Fire Department.”
Several dignitaries were in attendance to support and watch the honoring of Morris: Parish Councilmen Oliver Joseph and Kent Schexnaydre, George Rodeillat, Ascension Parish West Side Coordinator, founding members of the Ronald “Rocky” Morris Fire Station, Wilson Waguespack and Jerry Waguespack, Karen St. Germain, State House of Representatives, and the Louisiana State Fire Marshal H. Butch Browning.
State Fire Marshal Browning said with being on the heels of the 12th anniversary of the Sept. 11 2001 attacks on the World Trade Centers in New York the day is appropriate.
“On the day the American fire service vowed to never forget the sacrifice of those New York City firefighters,” Browning said. “The reality is there are thousands of people alive today because of those heroes on 9/11.”
Browning said as they gather in remembrance of Rocky and in fact dedicate a fire station in his name, “when you say we never forget, Chief Montero and the Donaldsonville Fire Department did not forget.”
“I think he was a very unique person, he was happy with just serving,” Browning said about Morris. “He was happy with volunteering and not being in front of the camera but maybe being about three or four people behind it. I think that’s an inspirational thing here to us all.”