Norma Morris, a veteran country music publicist, died Aug. 20 at her home in Kingston Springs, TN, at age 82. The cause of death was given as complications of Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease.
Among the artists Morris worked with were Waylon Jennings, Steve Wariner, Ralph Stanley, Merle Haggard, Exile, Paul Overstreet, Jesse Winchester, Maxine Brown of the Browns and Bluegrass Hall of Famers Jim & Jesse McReynolds.
Morris was part of a family widely known in Nashville and country circles. Her daughter, Erin Morris Huttlinger, is a former RCA Records publicist who now runs her own firm, Morris Public Relations, for which her mother did some work. Her son, Jason Morris, is a music publisher with Fame, HoriPro and Eleven Eleven Music. And her husband, Edward Morris, was the former country music editor of Billboard and went on to be a writer for CMT.com.
Norma Morris was also the author of college textbooks including “Introduction to Computers and Information Systems” and “How to Set Up a Business Office.”
As a photographer, her work had appeared in People, TV Guide, Writer’s Digest, Billboard, Bluegrass Unlimited and Amusement Business.
Steve Goetzman, drummer for the band Exile, worked with Norma when she was the publicist for the band and also when he managed Wariner.
“When I think of Norma, the first word that comes to mind is demure,” said Steve Goetzman, the drummer for Exile and one-time manager of Wariner, in an article earlier this year. “As a small, soft-spoken, demure woman, her sharp dry wit always comes as a surprise. Her outward peace belies the furnace of quips cooking below.”
Edward Morris had written a series of Facebook blogs about caring for her as she declined, which he compiled into a book titled “Stardust: An Alzheimer’s Love Story.”
The couple’s 61-year marriage was an unusual one, as Edward Morris wrote in a 2014 Salon essay, “The key to our successful marriage: Separate houses,” in which he wrote about how they had lived apart, and lived separate but sometimes conjoining lives, for at that point the last 33 years of their marriage. Norma Morris was diagnosed with her conditions in 2015, and later, as Edward Morris writes in his book, he moved back in to help care for her.
“I’m a vegetarian, Norma a carnivore,” Edward wrote in his Salon essay. “I’m a night owl, Norma an early-to-bedder. Norma likes television as a faint background noise; I want to be able to hear it in the next room. I rent to avoid having to do any home-maintenance work; Norma dotes on home-improvement projects. Norma has two dogs she cherishes; my affection for animals extends only to not eating them. Norma likes to travel; I’ve never flown and never plan to. I like pointed, relentless, cage-fight arguments about almost everything; Norma hates to quibble about anything.”
Norma Ann Morris was born June 21, 1939 in Apple Grove, Ohio to Charles and Anna Chapman. He parents preceded her in death, as did a son, Christopher Alexander Morris, her stepfather, Alec Wheeler, and her brother, William Wheeler.
Besides Edward Morris, Erin Morris Huttlinger and Jason Morris, Norma is also survived by another daughter, Rachel Serrato; a sister, Frankie Foster; her grandchildren Gregorio, Austin, Marcus and Jaden Serrato and Sean and James Della Croce; and five great grandchildren.
In lieu of flowers, the family is asking for donations to Nashville’s Alive Hospice, which worked with her during her final days.