Obituary Notices and Memorials


MORSE, Larry D.
MORSE, Larry D. Age 87, founder of Morse Morse and Morse Law firm in Merced, died Tuesday, October 28, 2014 at his vacation home in Carlsbad, Calif. Larry was born on August 11, 1927 in Belmond, Iowa to Cortland and Lettye Morse. His father worked in banking, but like millions of Americans the family was devastated financially by the Great Depression and moved west to California. The family settled in Hollywood where Larry and his older brother, Dick, both attended Hollywood High School. While in high school Larry began working at NBC Studios in Hollywood as an usher for the radio broadcasts which were attended by live audiences. In the Fall of 1944 while working at the studio, where he had been promoted to supervising usher, he first met a new employee, Saranne Condon, from Streator, Ill., a beautiful co-ed who was attending the University of Southern California. Thus began a romance that lasted 70 years. Throughout his life, Larry and Saranne both talked fondly of their time working at NBC and the many movie stars and entertainers that had the opportunity to see on a weekly basis. Morse graduated from Hollywood High in 1945. Larry and Saranne were married in March of 1947. Saranne got her teaching credential from USC and taught elementary school in Southern California while Larry worked at Lockheed in Burbank and enrolled in law school at Southwestern School of Law in Los Angeles. After being admitted to the bar, Larry and Saranne began looking for a small community to begin his law practice. In 1955 the family, which now included first born son Brian, son Neil and daughter Anne, moved to Lancaster, which was then a small town in the high desert of Antelope Valley. Larry began working as an associate for a local attorney, and in 1960 formed the law firm of Morse Michelizzi and Wright. He was an active civic leader in Lancaster serving as honorary mayor and leading several efforts to incorporate Lancaster. The firm he founded expanded in the late 1960s to become Morse, Michelizzi , Cosgrove, Schwabacher and Ward, the largest law firm in the Antelope Valley. In 1973 Larry was appointed to the Los Angeles County Municipal Court bench by Governor Ronald Reagan. He lost a bitter election in 1976 and instead of returning to his law practice, Larry and Saranne decided to relocate. By then the family included son, Larry II, who was in college and daughters, Emily and Ellen. He and Saranne took the girls out of school and traveled around the United States in a motor home for many months. When they returned to California they began looking for a new community to practice law. Being born in the Midwest, both Larry and Saranne found Merced reminiscent of the small towns they'd known in their childhood and chose to settle there in 1977. Larry began working at the law firm of Allen, Van Winkle and Ivey. When son, Neil, graduated from law school Larry started a new law firm, Morse and Morse in the Shaffer Building on Main Street. When oldest son, Brian, after working for a few years in the Merced County Public Defender's office, joined the firm it became Morse Morse and Morse. They purchased the historic Virginia Smith family home in 1984 where the law practice remains today. Morse retired from active practice in 2006 as he neared his 80th birthday after more than 50 years as a lawyer. He specialized in probate matters in his later career, but had significant experience as a trial attorney and in many other areas of the law. Larry always considered having the opportunity to practice law with his two sons one of the great privileges of his life. Larry was active in a host of civic endeavors in Merced. He was a member of the board of directors of Merco Credit Union, a member of the Merced College Foundation Board, Merced Boosters and Merced Downtown Rotary and was a Rotarian for more than 50 years. He was a member of BPOE Elks for more than 50 years and served as Exalter Rule of Merced Lodge 1240 where he led the renovation of the historic lodge building n 1989. He also served for many years as general counsel and legal advisor for the California-Hawaii Elks Major Project Inc., a fundraising effort providing physical and speech therapy to low income children who live in rural areas and who otherwise would not have had access to such services. Larry and Saranne enjoyed playing doubles tennis together for many decades and were active members of Merced Racquet Club. Larry was an avid upland game hunter for most of his adult life. Of special joy were the annual trips he would take to South Dakota for pheasant hunting with his sons. For many years he was an enthusiastic deep sea fisherman often spending weeks chasing albacore off the Baja coast. He was an incomparable father to his six children. Their education was his biggest priority and he put all of them through college. The one condition was that he and Saranne wanted their children to experience other parts of the country so all six attended college out of California. Larry used to note that from 1967 to 1987 they had at least one child in college out of state. Larry had a lifelong love of cards, especially poker and bridge. He and Saranne were part of bridge groups in Lancaster and Merced and Larry was a dedicated poker player at card clubs in Merced and Carlsbad after retiring from the practice of law. The heart and soul of Larry's life were the 67 years he was married to Saranne. One of their greatest pleasures was the small beach house they bought in Carlsbad in 1962 in which they spent many of their happiest moments over the next 50 years. The entire family will forever cherish the memory of their parents' love affair with the house on Garfield St. But mostly the children will remember the sheer enjoyment Larry and Saranne took in each other's company. Larry was always quick to express his gratitude for the incredible blessings he and Saranne had enjoyed in their lives. He lived a life of honor and integrity and leaves this world a better place because of his contributions to family, friends, community and country. Larry was preceded in death by his parents, his brother, Dick and a brother who died shortly after birth in Iowa. In addition to Saranne, Larry leaves behind his children Brian (Beverly), Neil (Teresa), Anne (Chris), Larry (Cindy), Emily (John) and Ellen. He's also survived by his grandchildren Michael Mahoney, Lettye Walsh, Matt Morse, Rachelle Morse, Dylan Morse, Ethan Morse, Ryan Morse, Michael Tsakoumakis, Cortland Morse, Adria Sargent and Elise Torres and great grandchildren Madeline Mahoney and Jaxson Sargent. Visitation will be from 4 to 8 pm, Monday, November 3, 2014 at Stratford Evans Merced Funeral Home, 1490 B Street. Funeral services will be at 10 am, Tuesday, November 4, 2014 at Our Lady of Mercy Church at 21st and Canal Streets in Merced. In lieu of flowers, the family respectfully requests that contributions may be made to the Elks Major Projects c/o Elks Lodge 1240, 1910 M Street Merced, CA 95340. Arrangements are under the direction of Stratford Evans Merced Funeral Home.

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