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Edwin Thaddeus Morris, 86, construction engineer and 'Renaissance man'


Edwin Thaddeus Morris could explain the peculiarities of building dams and bridges throughout the continent of Africa. He could hunt his food and transform it into a four-star dinner. Want to know anything about the Congo River? Consult the maps Mr. Morris corrected.

Mr. Morris, a resident of Ruxton, did not limit his interests. They were varied and took him all over the globe. From the time he was a young man until well after his retirement, he had great success in almost everything he tried.

Mr. Morris died Thursday of heart failure in McLean, Va. He was 86.

He had maintained an active lifestyle. He had planned to go golfing Saturday and was looking forward to the ski season.

"In very real terms, he was a true Renaissance man," said his son David Morris of Baltimore. "He could show you the design of a suspension bridge and then go off and cook a gourmet meal. He could quote poetry that he learned as a young man, yet he was an extremely competent construction executive."

Mr. Morris was born in New York. He married Winifred W. Walsh, his high school sweetheart, in 1938 and received a degree in civil engineering from Manhattan College. He was a Navy lieutenant stationed in the Pacific during World War II, and was part of the advance landing party for the occupation of Nagasaki, Japan.

After he was discharged in 1946, he joined a New York engineering firm, then moved to Maryland in 1966 as an engineer with Baltimore Contractors Inc. Ten years later, he founded Edwin T. Morris Construction Consultants Inc., based in Baltimore.

He spent much of his career building and consulting on some of the world's largest construction projects, including the Alaskan oil pipeline and mining projects in Liberia. During his work in the Republic of Congo, he corrected maps of the Congo River and, as a result, was selected a fellow in the distinguished Explorers' Club.

Among his accomplishments closer to home was work on National Airport in Washington and the FBI facilities at Quantico, Va.

The part of his life he was most proud of, though, was his family. He and his wife celebrated their 60th wedding anniversary in April.

"He was a very successful businessman," said his son, "but he placed family higher than business."

Mr. Morris was easy with a laugh, most often at his own expense, with self-deprecating humor. But he was pleasantly competitive as well.

At age 80, he was Maryland's gold medalist for the Senior NASTAR, a circuit competition for snow skiers. He was also an avid hunter, fisherman and pilot.

He was a member of Ducks Unlimited and Trout Unlimited, and attended the Roman Catholic Church of the Immaculate Conception in Towson.

A Mass of Christian burial will be offered at 11 a.m. tomorrow at the Roman Catholic Cathedral of Mary Our Queen, 5200 N. Charles St.

In addition to his wife and son, Mr. Morris is survived by two other sons, Edwin T. Morris Jr. of New York and Patrick J. Morris of McLean; a daughter, Joan M. Strzelecki of Albany, N.Y.; a brother, Joseph Morris of Jericho, N.Y.; two sisters, Helen von Bevern of Kansas City, Mo., and Rita Cotter of Westport, Conn.; and 10 grandchildren.

Pub Date: 12/01/98

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