Marietta and Tom, ca 1997
I am creating this page in honour of my big brother, Tom, on the eve of the 20th anniversary of his being taken from us — March 31, 2018. It was my younger brother, Glen, who recently pointed out to me the glaring absence of such a memorial page. In my defence I will only say that I find it so hard to believe that Tom is gone. He formed such a pivotal part of our family life and he was taken from us far too soon. Also, due to the sad realities of privacy concerns on the internet, which seem to be becoming more critical with every day that passes, I have refrained from publishing anything online that might identify living individuals other than myself, so it will be difficult to tell Tom’s story without identifying his family members, who were the very reason for his being. But I will do my best.
Thomas Graham Morry VI
To give him his full name and title, Tom was actually Thomas Graham Morry VI. Thomas Graham Morry I, was the son of our immigrant ancestor, Matthew Morry I, and his first wife, Mary Graham. Legend has it that Mary was a direct descendant of Scottish royalty (Mary Stuart, Queen of Scots) and more immediately from Thomas Graham (1st Baron Lynedoch of Balgowan, 1748 – 1843) of the family of Grahams of Claverhouse. Both legends have been impossible to prove and are more than likely apocryphal. Nevertheless, our grandfather, affectionately known as Dad Morry, would always bring us souvenirs from Scotland which included articles of clothing made from the Graham tartan, copies of the Graham coat of arms in various forms and copies of portraits of our supposed Graham ancestors (see below) by famous artists.
Thomas Graham, 1st Baron Lynedoch of Balgowan, 1748 – 1843. General
Samuel William Reynolds
The Honourable Mrs Graham (1757 – 1792)
Be that as it may, after Matthew and Mary named their first son Thomas Graham Morry, if became the practice in the family to name one son in this manner in each generation thereafter. Our great grandfather was so named (see his page on this site). So was our father. And in keeping with the tradition, Tommy, as he was known in childhood to distinguish him from Dad, who was known as Tom, had this illustrious family name bestowed upon him at birth. It is a fine name and I am sure he was proud of it and the tradition that was said to lie behind it, regardless of whether that tradition was based in fact or not.Later, at his Confirmation, he took the name Augustine (as indeed did I, copying off my older brother). This naming tradition ended sadly with the tragic early death of Glen’s son, Ian Thomas Graham Morry at the tender age of three on May 24th, 2000. With two such tragic losses in the last two generations of the family, it is unlikely the tradition will be resumed in the next generation.
Thomas Graham Morry III, Right, ca 1870 at Fort Garry (our great grandfather)
Thomas Graham Morry IV (Dad’s Uncle) and Thomas Graham Morry V (Dad)
Boston, ca. 1935
The Early Days
It would be a pleasant deception to say that Tom was born in Gander. That town was born only a short while before Tom was born, and the family was indeed living in Gander at the time of his birth. But medical services in the town were rudimentary and untrustworthy at the time, so Mom chose to return to St. John’s for the birth. I could also probably lie and get away with it and say that Tom was the first baby born in Canada in 1948, since he was indeed born on January 1 of that year. But in fact, Newfoundland was not to become a part of Canada until the following April 1 (1949). I cannot say if Tom was the first baby born in Newfoundland that year. If so, no fuss was made of the happy event in the newspapers.
The godparents who represented Tom at his christening at St. Patrick’s RC Church in St. John’s a week later were John Ralph and Mary Foley, friends of Mom and Dad, but neither played a role in Tom’s upbringing and I seem to think we never heard of either of them again.
Mary Foley with unknown baby, possibly Tommy
Following the birth and baptism, the family returned to Gander, where Dad was employed as a finance officer with the Commission of Government. Gander was a bustling town then. Trans Atlantic flights from all nations stopped there to fuel en route since it was then impossible to make the trip across from North America to Europe or vice versa on a single tank of fuel. But Dad’s fortunes and those of the family were soon to change with the advent of Confederation on April 1, 1949, when, as Newfoundlanders like to say, Canada joined Newfoundland.
Photos of Tom with Lanny, Mom and Dad
Gander, Summer 1948
From Aunt Elsie’s Photo Collection
Photos of Tom and Tommy, 1948-49, Gander
Mom and Tom and Dad and Lanny, Summer 1948, Gander
Big Sister Lanny with Baby Tom 1948 and Toddler Tom Winter 1949, Gander
After Confederation, Dad ceased to be an employee of the Dominion of Newfoundland and immediately became an employee of the new regional office of federal government department known as the Unemployment Insurance Commission (UIC). This change brought with it a transfer from Gander to St. John’s just in time for my birth there. I have no idea what significance my birth may have had for our older sister Lanny, but i do know that, as soon as I was old enough to walk and talk, for Tom and me it meant we had built-in best friends right in the household. In many ways this paralleled many years later the situation for our two sons, Bryan and Peter, who without brothers of their own, found in each other best friends.
St. John’s, 1949-1953
A return to St. John’s meant that the family was once again close to the grandparents. Unfortunately, Mom Morry died shortly after Tom’s birth, on February 15, 1948 and probably never saw her newest grandchild. But during our growing up years in St. John’s, we spent many happy Sundays at Nan and Daddy Jack’s (64 Quidi Vidi Rd.) and occasionally making the long journey over almost impassible roads to Ferryland to visit with Dad Morry and other family members there.
Photos of Tommy, Lanny and Chris, some with Mom and Dad
St. John’s, 1949-1953
Le Grand Dérangement
In 1953, Dad received good news that would ultimately change all of our lives forever, for better or for worse. He had reached the pinnacle of his career with the UIC in Newfoundland and could advance no further there, so he sought and was successful in obtaining a promotion to headquarters in Ottawa as their Chief Enforcement Officer. This meant, of course, leaving behind all of the family and friends who had made up so much of our lives up to that moment. But it also opened up untold opportunities for each member of the family. This is one of those major forks in the road of life that can never be second guessed. Would our lives have been better had we stayed within the bosom of our families in Newfoundland? We will never know. But children are adaptable animals, and for us it was a wonderful and great adventure, with new experiences at every turn.
When we first arrived in Ottawa, like refugees from Europe after the war, we came in our Newfoundland clothing, completely out of context to the local styles, but more importantly the local climate. It was late-Spring – early-Summer, which in Newfoundland is an unpredictable time weather-wise, so we were bundled up in warm woolen winter coats only be greeted by the stifling heat and humidity of an Ottawa Spring. We stayed for 2 weeks at the Lord Elgin Hotel on Elgin St. while Dad and Mom searched for a suitable apartment. And it didn’t take Mom long to discover Woolworth’s around the corner on Sparks St. and buy us all light cotton summer togs.
From the luxury of the Lord Elgin, we moved to somewhat more plebeian surroundings of a three bedroom apartment on Archibald St. in what was then the far west end of Ottawa. Keep in mind that this was long before the introduction of air conditioning in the home and that this was May in Ottawa. Anyone who has experienced the climate of Ottawa in May and who has had the misfortune to have to experience the agony of not having air conditioning in that environment will have some idea of the misery of that first period of adaptation for these erstwhile Newfoundlanders. Sleep was only a dream, or rather a nightmare! Mom would have a picnic ready as soon as Dad walked home from work (he never learned to drive for years to come, and in any event we did not own a car). We would sit outside the apartment and have our dinner in the shade of the building away from the setting sun, or walk the short distance to the Experimental Farm, and then reluctantly return to our apartment at bed time. Soon Dad bought us a wading pool to relieve the misery a bit. But eventually we acclimatized to our surroundings.
Early days in Ottawa, Summer 1953-54
Of course it didn’t take us long to discover that our move to Ottawa was not only about unbearably hot and humid summers; it also brought with it winters the like of which we had never experienced in Newfoundland either. But at least our Newfoundland clothing was better suited to those conditions, and we soon learned to enjoy sledding and skating, activities we had not yet come to know before leaving Newfoundland. Tom and I were not much good at skating, and neither of us took a fancy to hockey, but Lanny, being the sporty type by nature, took to skates like a duck to water. That first winter also brought the first opportunity to have Mom’s sister Ruth and her family visit us from the somewhat less distant (now) location of Ohio. And that Christmas Tom and I were able to trade in our hats as Mack (Tom) and Jack (me), construction worker and cop, for the outfits of cowboys, courtesy of the Fugates.
The Other Side of Ottawa Weather, Winter 1954
During our time on Archibald Street, Tommy and Lanny attended St. Louis School nearby (which no longer exists) and we all went to St. Augustine’s Church on Baseline Rd., a tiny structure subsequently converted into the church hall when a proper church was built. There Tommy and Lanny, and later I, had our First Holy Communion. And it was in honour of that introduction to the faith in Ottawa that Tommy later chose the Confirmation name, Augustine, and I copied him and did likewise.
Tommy and Lanny’s First Holy Communion, St. Augustine’s Church, 1954
Growing up in Ottawa
After a couple of years at the apartment on Archibald St. Dad and Mom were able to raise financing (through two mortgages) to purchase what would become the family home for the rest of Mom and Dad’s lives. The house at 16 Fern Avenue was also in the west end, but closer to downtown and very close to Dad’s place of work at the time on Preston St.. There was a school nearby (St. Mary’s) that was attended by Tommy, Lanny and Chris, who started his school career there after one day at St. Louis the previous Spring, which he thought was quite enough of schooling. Though I was never very academically inclined, Tommy excelled from the very beginning without even raising a hair. It was only later, when we were both attending St. Patrick’s High School that we learned why it was so effortless for him. After a battery of psychological and aptitude testing over a several year time span it was discovered that Tom’s IQ was in the genius range. Suffice it to say mine was somewhat less.
Chris and Tommy in front of 16 Fern Avenue, Summer 1955
Dad and Tommy on the back doorstep of 16 Fern Ave., Summer 1955
Though the house at 16 Fern Avenue was a 3 bedroom home, one of the bedrooms, Lanny’s as it happened, was little bigger than a broom closet. In fact, five years later when an unexpected surprise in the form of Glen came along, and the house had to be enlarged, that bedroom became a bathroom, and a small one at that. But even before that the house was big enough to accommodate visitors, and there were frequent visits by the Fugates from Ohio, Uncle Reg and his family from Belleville, Daddy Jack, Nan and Muriel from St. John’s and a little later, Dad Morry and Uncle Bill from Ferryland. We in turn paid visits to all of these people and places when Dad’s economic fortunes improved with his advancement in the public service.
A Selection of Photos from 1955 to 1959
(Not in chronological order)
During these years Mom learned how to paint from a well known war artist, Pat Cowley Brown, who in turn had been trained by A. Y. Jackson. Mom was quite accomplished but did not think so, since her paintings did not sell at the few sales where she exhibited. Fortunately we were able to preserve some of her better works, including landscapes and portraits. But sadly, the one shown above of Tom in his Cub Scout uniform was lost and probably destroyed.
The 1960s represented the period in which Tommy transitioned to Tom Jr., and moved from St. Mary’s to St. Pat’s, and finally on to the University of Ottawa and later Carleton. During this period, for reasons never fully understood by anyone, least of all Tom, he became camera shy. Searching high up and low down I can hardly find any photographs of him, while there are numerous photos of the rest of the family. Here are all that I could find in the collections of Mom and Dad and my own photographs.
Photos from “The Day of the Regatta” in St. John’s, a visit with Muriel Kruger in Boston, and Muriel’s visit to see her youngest nephew, Glen
High School at St. Patrick’s College High School -1961-1964
Only a few photographs of Tom survive from his high school years. I was able to find those below from my high school year books starting in 1962 when I entered grade 9 and Tom was in grade 10 and ending in 1964, Tom’s last year at St. Pat’s. He chose not to go on to grade 13 but to take his pre-university year at the University of Ottawa in 1965 so the last photo I have of him from St. Pat’s was when he graduated from grade 12.
Possibly Tom’s School Photo From Grade 9 A (1961)
Full Class Photo of Grade 10 A (1962)
Tom is Five From the Left in the Middle Row
Closeup from Above Photo
The comment beside his name above says “Tom Morry – He is greatly interested in models?” One wonders what kind of models interested him at age 14?
Tom’s Class Photo from Grade 11 A (1963)
Closeup from Above Photo
Here Tom’s more intellectual side is highlighted in the comment: “Tom Morry and Dick Nolan [one of his great high school friends], the most well-informed people on useless information, will still be searching for one fact that Fr. Trainor doesn’t agree with them on.”
Tom’s Photo from 12 A – His High School Graduation Photo (1964)
Closeup from Above Photo
In his final year of high school, with university on the horizon, Tom’s shy, or perhaps more contemplative side, was highlighted in the comment in the year book: “TOM MORRY — If any of the aforementioned “Silent Ones” are thought to be exceptionally quiet, then sitting alone in a room with Tom would be like floating in a vacuum. Man, is he silent! But actions speak louder than words and this is certainly shown in Tom’s marks. With regard to plans for next year the blanket of secretive silence again falls and we leave Tom to decide.”
Higher Education and Joining the Work Force
In 1969, having completed his BA, Cum Laude of course, at the University of Ottawa the previous year, Tom moved on to take his DPA (Diploma in Public Administration) at Carleton University, which evidently was not a taxing activity, as he and friend Alan Rock were able to take part in a government funded experiment on the cognitive effects of marijuana and also to take time to travel to Montréal to persuade John and Yoko Lennon, who were then engaged in their sleep-ins for peace in various cities, to come and talk with the Prime Minister in Ottawa. Photo below.
Tom with Yoko and John Lennon, Summer 1969
A year later, in 1970, Tom had completed his MA in Public Administration at Carleton University and began his career in the Public Service of Canada, following in his father and namesake’s footsteps. He began at the Department of Agriculture in their Personnel section and eventually moved to a Central Agency, the Treasury Board. No doubt he was strongly influenced by Dad in deciding to take this transfer. It wasn’t long before Tom’s obvious gift for and understanding of personnel policy was winning him attention and much respect far beyond his own department.
Normally a person’s career in the Public Service would get a huge boost by spending some time with the Central Agencies. Dad was still living in the belief that the Canadian Public Service was the envy of the world, which it had been when he first arrived in Ottawa. But by the late 60s and early 70s things had changed drastically, and for the worse. The senior echelons of the Public Service were now highly politicized and, in particular, Treasury Board was little more than an appendage of the Privy Council Office, which in turn now saw its role as doing the bidding of the Prime Minister’s Office. Telling truth to power ceased to exist in the Public Service of Canada at that time and has never been revived. Tom was in the centre of this and could see the ominous writing on the wall. On Saturdays when Dad and he would get together at Tom’s house they would engage in heated debates about this failure of the Central Agencies to maintain their autonomy, Dad not willing to believe it was true, and that the organisation he loved had been so badly co-opted and reduced in value.
The Reteks and Morrys at Tom and Marietta’s Wedding, 1974
But before all of this took place, there was another major change in Tom’s life. Tom surprised us all by falling head over heels for a young, strong-willed, talented and intelligent Hungarian woman, Marietta Retek. As I said above, it is only because of the very real risks to personal privacy as a result of the trolls that skulk around the Internet, that I have decided not to go into details concerning Tom’s family, including his two wonderful children, Pete and Em. Suffice it to say that the Morry family was immensely enriched by Tom’s choice of bride and the resulting family that they raised together. Tom was a loving and devoted father and husband and I only wish I could go into greater detail on this aspect of his life.
For the reason given above, I will not get into details of facts and dates in relation to Tom’s family but simply let photographs tell the story from here on.
I suspect that few people who knew Tom were aware that he was not only a highly intelligent and gifted practitioner in public policy but also an accomplished and prolific poet. It would be tempting to suggest that Tom found in poetry an escape from the soul destroying work he endured at Treasury Board in those years, and perhaps there is an element of truth in that. But the reality is that he had been writing poetry almost all his life. He filled many pages with poetry (numbering in the tens of thousands before he died) but sadly only published one small volume. With the help of his helpmate/soulmate, Marietta, Tom had a volume of his Haiku published in both English and Hungarian, no mean feat when one understands how difficult this deceptively simple form of poem is to convert to another language.
One poem in this little volume that seems especially poignant and appropriate to reproduce here is:
To be one with the dust
of the universe
from which the stars were made.
Bárcsak egy lennék
Family Portrait on the Occasion of Mom and Dad’s 50th, 1995
In the above family portrait we all look happy and healthy, but in reality all was not as it seemed. Tom was already suspecting that his health was compromised, though he had not yet been diagnosed with the Cancer that eventually claimed his life three years later. Those next three years, or at least the time after the diagnosis and prognosis became known, were hell for all of the family. But perhaps Tom least of all, because he was a person of strong faith. In reality the only family member who was. And his belief in the hereafter sustained him through those terrible times.
One of life’s particular tragedies occurs when a parent dies before seeing their children set on the path of life that they choose to follow, and so it was with Tom. In the past three years we have seen both Em and Pete finding life partners with whom we know they will find great happiness. So it seems, that through all the sadness a light does shine through the clouds.
Can any of us deny the possibility that Tom is responsible for that light?