Gene Morse Obituary, Gene Morse Has Passed Away
Gene Morse Obituary, Death – My uncle Gene Morse died last week. I paid my respects to him the day before. These stories made me love him! My father and Chicago DuSable teammate Shellie McMillon were the first Blacks to play at Bradley University in Peoria, Illinois, in 1954. His full scholarship came with one catch: he and McMillon couldn’t reside in the dorms or close campus housing. The players stayed in the dorms after Coach Bob Vanatta petitioned for them.
When they played teams in the South, they had to stay at a seedy hotel or a friend’s house. Gene Morse, a teammate from Havana, Illinois (population 2367) (The Ultra Polar Opposite of The Southside of Chicago), stood up for my father and Shellie by eating with them in a restaurant’s kitchen when they weren’t allowed in the dining room and leading a team protest against staying in hotels where Curley and Shellie couldn’t enter or be seen in the lobby. My father respected Gene and they became lifelong friends after Bradley.
My father’s 1984 fatal cancer diagnosis in college taught me who my friends were. Never knew Gene was with my father on his deathbed. I drove from Dubuque, Iowa to Peoria for Thanksgiving my junior year at Loras College.
I got in late on Thanksgiving Eve and put my key in the door, but the locks had been changed, so I rang the doorbell and my Stepmother answered with a man behind her and said, “You can’t stay here anymore and your personal belongings are in the garage and to collect them now or they will be thrown out.
” She let me grab my clothes, awards, and yearbooks from the garage under her and her new man’s watch. I packed my Buick Regal. After sleeping in the car, I contacted Gene Morse, my father’s best friend and Bradley University teammate. Gene stated my Stepmother could get away with this! He asked me to Thanksgiving at his home in Morton, Illinois, 15 miles across the river, and his family treated me like family! I remained the night and traveled to Dubuque the next morning to make practice, and Gene became UNCLE GENE! We stayed in touch when I graduated and became a Trotter. He and his wife visited my basketball camp annually. We usually have lunch in Peoria.
Without Uncle Gene…
Gene Morse Obituary, Death – My uncle Gene Morse died last week. I paid my respects to him the day before. These stories made me love him! My father and Chicago DuSable teammate Shellie McMillon were the first Blacks to play at Bradley University in Peoria, Illinois, in 1954. His full scholarship came with one…