Whitney French Morrill, businessman

Whitney French Morrill, fox hunting
Whitney French Morrill, fox hunting (Baltimore Sun)

Whitney French Morrill, the co-owner of a building maintenance firm that cleaned Baltimore landmarks, died of complications from dementia Saturday at Manor Care Ruxton. The Monkton resident was 87.

Born in New York City and raised in Stamford, Conn., he was the son of Evelyn Walker Morrill and Frank Whitney Morrill, whose family made printers ink. As a boy, he raced boats in Long Island Sound.

In the 1930s, he moved to Forest Hill in Harford County. He lived with his mother and siblings on the 500-acre Highpoint Farm, where they raised cattle and crops.

"His love for the country life was instilled there," said his son Todd Lawrence Morrill of Glyndon.

Mr. Morrill attended McDonogh School, where he won honors for riding. After his teenage cousin, Billy Turner, was killed at Guadalcanal during World War II, Mr. Morrill decided to join the Navy. He arrived in the Pacific in March 1945 as a Navy medic attached to the 5th Marine Division.

His son said Mr. Morrill's outfit was the replacement for troops who had fought at the Battle of Iwo Jima.

"He was on a landing ship, preparing to invade mainland Japan, when the war ended," his son said. "My father often expressed sorrow for the massive loss of life at Nagasaki and the aftermath he witnessed."

Todd Morrill said his father photographed the nuclear destruction. "We could never get him to let go of those memories. Our comments were scant solace to him," he said.

When he returned from the war, Mr. Morrill moved to Longwood Road in Roland Park. There, at the old Morgan & Millard's drugstore soda fountain, he met Eileen Atkinson, who had sold war bonds in the Senator Theatre lobby. They had their first date at the Valley Inn in Brooklandville and later married.

He attended the University of Maryland, College Park, where his roommate was Sam Hearn, whose family owned a commercial cleaning business. They would later become partners, forming Hearn, Morrill Co. They once employed 100 people who did industrial cleaning.

His son said that over the years, the company cleaned the exterior of City Hall, and the interiors of the George Peabody Library on Mount Vernon Place, SS. Philip and James Roman Catholic Church, the USS Comfort and the Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt.

Mr. Morrill lived in Monkton with his family and often rode the old Pennsylvania Railroad's commuter trains to his Hunter Street business in Mount Vernon.

Mr. Morrill rode with the Mount Carmel Hounds and the Elkridge Harford hunt clubs.

"My father loved the outdoors, and he was an accomplished horseman," his son said. "On difficult jumps, his fellow riders would say, 'Whit, take us over this one.'"

He also enjoyed upland game hunting and on opening day of the Maryland hunting season would take his sons out of school so they could accompany him and spend a day in the countryside.

He also stood on the sidelines while his children competed in school sporting events.

Mr. Morrill bought an early Jaguar sports car. Family members said he and his brother, Starr Sheldon Morrill, liked to race along Interstate 83 when the road was newly constructed. They also raced at Watkins Glen, N.Y.

Services will be held at 11 a.m. Saturday at St. James Episcopal Church, 3100 Monkton Road.

In addition to his son, survivors include his wife of 17 years, the former Elizabeth Gannon; four other sons, Frank Whitney "Whit" Morrill ll and Mark Sheldon Morrill, both of Parkton, and Matthew Morrill and Benjamin Morrill, both of Baltimore; a daughter, Terry Morrill Silvano of Cockeysville; a sister, Joyce Morrill Stump of Parkville; and three grandchildren. His first marriage of 25 years ended in divorce. His brother died in 1995.


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