V. Futter, president of the American Museum of Natural History, told The New York Times1, “He was a pillar of our community personally and intellectually.” For many, Craig Morris was a Rock of Gibraltar, always providing encouragement, insights, and reliable solutions. In 2004, he stepped down from a decade of service as the dean of science at the American Museum, hoping, as he said, “to devote myself during the next several years to research, writing, publishing, and fieldwork; finally, I will be getting back to all the things I love.”2 Unfortunately, he only had a couple of years to do the things he loved.
Edward Craig Morris was born October 7, 1939, at Murray-Calloway County Hospital in Murray, Kentucky. His parents were Alwin Wybert Morris and Rubye Craig Morris. Their first child was a daughter, Emily Dale Morris (Luther), already 13 years old when her brother Craig was born. At birth Craig was found to have a serious heart condition; his doctors thought that he might not survive past childhood. They advised the family to keep him away from sports and strenuous activity, encouraging him to focus instead on reading and educational interests. His family followed this advice and Craig became an avid reader, excellent student, and ultimately a brilliant social scientist who in 1998 was elected to both the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the National Academy of Sciences.
Morris grew up on a 170-acre farm in east Calloway County. His father grew most of the family’s food, raising cattle and hogs to supply his family with enough beef and pork each year. The family garden provided the vegetables and fruits, especially strawberries and blackberries. The family also harvested apples, peaches, and pears, as well as grapes from the vines that grew along the garden fence. Craig often mentioned how much he had liked his life on the farm, especially feeding the animals.