Who are the people in your life that you know you will never forget? There are some individuals who have built a legacy and leave a mark on your heart forever. The late Lillie “Pearl” Morris was a Frisco resident, a leader, an entrepreneur, a volunteer, a friend, dedicated matriarch to her family and she was devoted in her faith. Mrs. Morris did not merely launch a career, but kept it going over time. She did not just successfully combine family and work, but she continued to stay relevant by doing new and interesting projects for her community. Sadly, Frisco lost this true Texas treasure in October of 2016. She was 92 years young, and while she may be gone, she left a legacy that will not soon be forgotten.
Mrs. Morris was born in Denton County on June 2, 1924, to Belva and Herschel Walker, both of respected pioneering families. After graduating from Denton High School in 1941, Mrs. Morris began a career as an accountant, which she retired from in 1971 to begin a career in real estate, which spanned three centuries. L. Pearl Morris Real Estate, Inc. was a fixture in the real estate community in Collin and Denton counties, and Mrs. Morris was the face and driving force of the company.
Additionally, she tirelessly gave her servant’s heart to numerous organizations, commissions, councils and clubs she believed in. She was a member and the president of the Frisco PTA, a longtime member and the first female president of the Frisco Chamber of Commerce, the Frisco Kiwanis Club and was the longest-standing member of the Frisco Garden Club at the time of her death. She belonged to the Frisco Book Club, the American Heart Association, Friends of the Library, the Frisco Historical Commission, the Downtown Merchants Association and served on the Frisco Planning and Zoning Commission. She was also a recipient of many achievement awards. Clearly, Mrs. Morris inherited her parents’ determined, pioneering spirit!
Her grandson, Chad Cunningham, shares, “Webster’s Dictionary defines ‘lady’ as a woman who behaves in a polite way. A woman of high position. Granny was a lady. From her perfectly-fixed hair, her tailored suits, her always perfectly-displayed jewelry, her polished high heels and the way she graced her office chair, anyone who met Granny knew they met a lady. Make no mistake, this was a strong woman who was raised on a farm, worked hard and constantly tried to further her knowledge and better herself. But, she was always a lady, and she did it with dignity and class; I could spend days talking about all her accomplishments. What made Granny so special was her individuality. There was no one like her. She was Pearl. She was the person who when someone met her, they remembered her for life.”
Amy Detherage, a friend and fellow Frisco Garden Club member, recalls, “I met Pearl in 2008, when I joined the Garden Club. I was told she was legally blind, but I never would have guessed. Pearl had such a special way about her. She was a very classy woman. Always well-coiffed and perfectly attired. She had an aura about her. She was the matriarch of the Frisco Garden Club, but always eager to learn something new. She had a way of making me feel like a valuable asset to the club. In a word: interested. Pearl was an inspirational woman and actively promoted business in Frisco. Pearl Morris was a good leader by modeling the highest of ethics and hard work. She was a beautiful person inside and out and I aspire to be like her.”
Mrs. Morris’ friend, Frances Justus, shares, “Pearl was a wonderful and very loving mother to her daughter, Nikki Boland, and to her grandchildren and great-grands. Every time I drove her to the Frisco Garden Club, she would tell me about her family, her concerns, her love for them and about her husband, Alvie, who she missed so much. She expected the best from her family and expected nothing less than their best in everything they accomplished. She was very, very proud of them.” Ms. Justus continues, “Pearl was a business woman during the time I worked at City Hall. I had heard of her and the work she did for the community. I saw her in City Hall at various times as she was involved with real estate ventures. She was very well-known in the business world, and was looked up to as one of only a few leading female citizens in Frisco. Miss Pearl was a special person who gave much of her time, talents and efforts to make Frisco what it is today. She was proud of her city. She always left the house looking beautiful and dressed in her Sunday best. She took pride in herself up to the end. You can admire a person like that. These are the memories I carry with me. Miss Pearl grew up on a farm, like I did, during hard times, when money was scarce. Yet, she became successful as a wife and mother, while starting a very successful real estate business, and became one of the impactful leaders of our community. She gives hope to all young girls that they, too, can become successful in whatever endeavor they choose, through dedication, hard work and faith in God. That is my best memory of Pearl.”
Mrs. Morris’ longtime friend, Jane Whitledge, adds, “Pearl may never have held office, but she influenced many decisions about growth, business and the future of Frisco through her knowledge of real estate, ownership of land, and she was the queen of the deal. She was a savvy business woman who paid her dues early on in Dallas, carpooling to work, complete in hat, gloves and heels. But, she was also a wife, mother and grandmother who diligently served on the PTA and loved her family. She was a symbol of the welcoming spirit that led so many of us ‘new’ people to make Frisco our home.”
Todd Clayton, the minister at Frisco Church of Christ, where Mrs. Morris was a member, shares, “Pearl was a part of the Frisco congregation from the time that she was very young and was dedicated to the welfare of the church. She was very strong in her faith and drew strength from her personal time with God. Sister Pearl was always involved in both big and small ways, from helping families in a time of need or simply cooking for a church potluck. No task was considered too menial to her. No matter how she felt herself, physically, she would always be concerned about others and would be willing to help. The thing that struck me most about Sister Pearl was that for all her knowledge, wit and talent, she was very humble. She took a place of service and obedience to God that we should all aspire to have. We will miss her greatly, but we are encouraged by the memories that live on in her family and friends.”
Mr. Cunningham concludes, “My grandmother was a huge, huge presence in Frisco and in our lives. She was Pearl. I keep saying that, but that name was all you had to say in Frisco, in any circle, and everyone immediately knew who you meant. L. Pearl Morris. Pearl.”
The legacy Mrs. Morris left behind in Frisco will be forever remembered and appreciated. Those who knew Mrs. Morris will always miss her, and those who did not will still experience the profound impact of her legacy here in Frisco.