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Rick Reuss Remembers Jim Morrow
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Rick Reuss Remembers Jim Morrow

I was saddened to learn of the death last month of one of our colleagues, Dr. James R. Morrow, at the age of 80. Lisa Saladin of SC wrote a touching Facebook tribute to Jim, particularly of his tenure in South Carolina.

I was blessed to have known Jim during his time when he taught at IU’s PT program in the 70s as well as decades after. Jim was a brilliant educator who earned the love and admiration of so many students over the years, particularly due to his kind and thoughtful presentation of neurophysiology in the treatment of neurological conditions. Though we don’t have the phrase codified, I believe that Jim was a Master Clinician in his tender and expert treatment of patients in the classroom and clinic.

Jim was Indiana Chapter President and Chief Delegate in the 1970s. This was a time of great strife between educators and private practitioners in the state as well as the country. Jim worked tirelessly to heal this rift.

Jim was the second Director from Indiana to be elected to the National Board of Directors in 1980. (Fran Ekstam was our first national Director elected in 1964; Louie Greenwald, third in 1982; and Pauline Flesch, fourth in 2001.) It was during Jim’s tenure on the Board, that APTA purchased its first building in Alexandria, VA and dealt with so many national issues affecting the survival of our profession.

I think one of Jim’s most substantive contributions to the direction of APTA and the PT profession was the subject of his doctoral dissertation, which examined if physical therapy was viewed as a fully professionalized occupation. [The attributes most frequently mentioned in the literature include a body of theoretical knowledge; specialized education and training; a service orientation; public acceptance and sanction; the existence of a code of ethics; a representative organization and occupational culture; and, autonomy of judgment.] Until recently, becoming a fully professionalized occupation was the primary direction the Board and APTA believed paramount.

For all intents and purposes, Jim rarely slept, but dedicated his life to physical therapy and its clinicians and the future of the profession. He was well respected by his Board of Director colleagues as well as the Education Section. Education in all facets was his first love.

One of my favorite Jim stories was in 1986 when, at that time, I was the youngest to run for an elected APTA position (Nominating Committee). The way it was supposed to work was that I was to finish third (out of 4 nominees) in running against some real icons. Back then, some folks found out the election results before everyone else (nothing nefarious). Well, at one of the breaks, Jim came up to me and told me to meet him at the bar farthest away from the House. Well, Jim put a glass of champagne with a strawberry in it in front of me. I looked at him and said “I won?” He grinned and said “You came in first!” About 10 years before, Jim ran and lost his bid for Nominating Committee. He was a class act! (Jerry Smith was elected to the Nominating Committee in 2012).

For better or worse, Jim was a primary reason for my love of the House of Delegates as well as continued return to the House of Delegates. He instilled in me the need for active knowledge of Parliamentary Procedure as well as working familiarity with APTA, Chapter, and District Bylaws.

Jim was the absolute epitome of the Master Clinician and Physical Therapy Educator.  There should be an award in his honor, but past contributions are rarely recognized today.

Rest in Peace, Jim!

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