“Ashley Morris, tireless proponent of N.O.”

Ashley’s obituary in the NO Times-Picayune:

Thursday, April 10, 2008
By John Pope
Staff writer

Ashley Morris, a passionate advocate for New Orleans who possessed the mind of a computer geek and the soul of a rabble-rouser, died April 2 in his sleep in Fort Myers, Fla. He was 44.

The cause of death has not been determined, said Ray Shea, a friend, who said that Mr. Morris had been in Florida to settle family legal matters.

Mr. Morris, who reached a worldwide audience with blunt blogs about New Orleans, loved his adopted hometown so much that he commuted every week to Chicago to teach computer science at DePaul University.

“Ashley divided the world into people who would fight for New Orleans and people who have abandoned us,” Shea said. “If he thought you were a friend of New Orleans, you were a saint. All of his saints were the football players, or brass-band musicians, or chefs or anyone who did anything to try to save this city. Everyone else was the enemy.”

Karen Gadbois, a neighborhood activist, remembered Mr. Morris as a man who “was not tempered by social conventions to stifle his own voice.”

When it came to New Orleans, Mr. Morris wore his heart on his sleeve and his loyalty on his skin. Literally. When the Saints reached the playoffs at the end of the 2006 season, he had a giant fleur-de-lis tattooed on his right shoulder.

Although he was known mainly as an unseen online personality because of his postings at ashleymorris.typepad.com, he received global visual exposure via CNN in 2006, during the first post-Katrina Krewe de Vieux parade. Dressed as a French mime in convict stripes and white face makeup, he stood in a glass case bearing this appeal to the French president: “Buy us back, Chirac!”

“He was a character, a huge, big force of nature,” Shea said of Mr. Morris, who weighed about 350 pounds. “He was part Lenny Bruce, part Thomas Jefferson and part Gerry Adams of Sinn Fein,” the political wing of the Irish Republican Army.

Born in DeFuniak Springs, Fla., Mr. Morris earned an undergraduate degree at the University of Mississippi, where he was a drummer in the marching band, and a doctorate in computer science at Tulane University. He was an associate professor at DePaul.

In his classes and professional seminars, he always found a way to work New Orleans into the discussion, said Mark Moseley, a friend.

Mr. Morris had his students build databases that the federal government should have been using when Hurricane Katrina struck, Moseley said, and he wanted to teach a class on post-storm New Orleans.

Mr. Morris “loved living here, eating here and celebrating here,” Moseley said. “He liked life, and he found it kind of distilled here.”

Survivors include his wife, Hana Morris; a son, Rey d’Orleans Morris; and two daughters, Annabel and Katerina Morris.

A funeral will be held Friday at 1 p.m. at Schoen Funeral Home, 3827 Canal St. Visitation will start at 10 a.m.

Burial will be in St. Louis Cemetery No. 3.


Ashley Morris Memorial Fund

The Ashley Morris Memorial Fund has been set up. Ashley is survived by a wife and three small children , a family having to cope with sudden and unexpected loss of a husband and father.

Even his most casual acquaintances know how much Ashley loved community, how much he could made them feel part of something bigger just by knowing him.

Let’s come together in community to help Ashley’s family through this very difficult time.

Please donate here.

Funeral details

Ray asked that we share the following, regarding Ashley’s funeral plans:

Relatives and friends of the family are invited to attend the Funeral
Services from SCHOEN FUNERAL HOME, 3827 CANAL ST., on Friday, April 11, 2008 at 1:00 pm. Visitation will be from 10:00 am until 1:00 pm. Interment to follow in St. Louis Cemetery No. 3
He adds:
Hana has also informed me that traditional Saints fan attire will be
considered an appropriate substitute for traditional funeral attire.
Ashley, for one, is likely going to his final rest in a Saints shirt,
shorts, and black and gold high tops.

Open thread for Ashley

I’m sorry to have to break such bad news: We just found out that Ashley died this morning.

From his blog tonight:

This is Hana, Ashley’s wife. I am sorry to tell you but Ashley passed away this morning, Wed. April 2, 2002 in Florida.

Everybody who loved him and whom he made laugh, please pray for him and his children.

Things are going to be a little crazy now as I have no fucking idea what to do. Pardon the profanity but I guess you must be used to it from here.

I will post again the funeral arrangements and such.

I never got to meet Ashley in person but he was as wide open and helpful as an old friend about working on this blog from the minute he answered my first email. He admired, appreciated, and championed The Wire and all of David Simon’s work to such an extent that I know beyond a shadow of a doubt he wouldn’t mind it being brought up at such a time as this. It was never just about a television show, and Ashley knew that, knew it was a part of the story of America, that we needed to see it, to know it and not look away, before it was too late.

Damn it, I downloaded some vintage NOLA funk the other day by Eddie Bo and The Soul and I couldn’t wait to listen to the whole album, then email Ashley about it to see if he knew it.

This place is way too quiet now.