John Chapman Morris Jr. was known as Chappy to his friends, family and community, and on Monday, April 2, at a reception on the St. Bonaventure High School football field, they will all come together to say one final goodbye.
Morris passed away on March 16 at the age of 56 and is survived by wife Lori Farrell Morris, daughters Sydney Anne and Margaret Rose Morris, sisters Laurie Smith and Tina Thomson, and his brother, Bill Morris.
Morris was a prominent member of the community and a third-generation Ventura County business owner, a third-generation member of the Rancheros Visitadores and Rancheros Adolfo riding groups as a skilled horseman, and a fifth-generation Ventura County resident through his parents, the late John Chapman Morris and Geraldine Doud Morris, his mother a descendant of the McGrath family. He was an avid sportsman as well, playing football for Ventura College before transferring to the University of Southern California to pursue a business degree within the entrepreneurship program.
Using his credentials, Chappy became president of the family business, William L. Morris Chevrolet in Fillmore. Locals would recognize him as the happy-go-lucky face of the dealership from his radio and television ads as he exclaimed, “Get happy with Chappy.”
His friends remember him as a people person, acting as the hub through which a wide variety of people connected.
“He’s the guy that reached out to everybody, someone that would listen to everybody,” said Mark Hartley, music manager and friend of Morris for over a decade, riding with him as a fellow Ranchero. “He was someone that had a great amount of energy that he put back into our community.”
Rancher Bert Lamb remembers Morris as being “unable to help himself” from helping others, reaching out to offer a hand or simply bringing a smile to someone’s face with a joke.
“It was how he operated daily from the moment he woke up; it never stopped,” said Lamb. “I had to step back and let him do what he was built and loved to do; he got so much joy out of it.”
Morris’ longtime friend Steve Barnard, CEO of Mission Produce in Oxnard, echoed the sentiment, saying that Morris was gregarious.
“I think Chappy gave it 100 percent in everything he did,” said Barnard. “He had an unbelievable imagination, a great, unbelievable sense of humor, and was really fun to be around.”
His wife, Lori, says that his outgoing nature touched people in many walks of life, some she’s only learning of now. Lori says that while picking up flowers for the service, she was told that Chappy had personally provided a vehicle for a local business when all it had was a rental, going out of his way to assist the family-owned company.
For all of the love he showed to his fellow man, says Lori, it was shown at home, too.
“For me and my daughters, he was the most loving husband and father and he told us every day, multiple times,” said Lori. “To me, that’s what we’re holding on to right now, that everything he did was out of love; he had the biggest heart in the whole wide world, and we’re seeing that even more so now with all the people he was connected with, personally.”
A funeral mass will be held at Our Lady of the Assumption Catholic Church, 3175 Telegraph Road in Ventura on Monday, April 2, at 11 a.m., followed by a reception on the adjacent football field at St. Bonaventure High School.
The family is asking that, in lieu of flowers, a donation be made to the Health Care Foundation for Ventura County Inc. for the benefit of the Ronald McDonald Family Room at Ventura County Medical Center, 300 Hillmont Ave., Ventura, in memory of Chap Morris.