The grand marshals for the 39th annual Wharton Chamber of Commerce & Agriculture (WCC&A) Christmas Holiday Parade will be Stewart Morris, Sr. and Stewart Morris, Jr.
The parade this year will be on Tuesday, Nov. 26, beginning at 7 p.m.
If anyone has been a part of the parade or witnessed it for the past few decades, the Morris family has been a part of it for most of those years because of the carriages that many associate them with.
Both have been a part of Stewart Title (established in 1893) all their lives and both are past presidents of Stewart Title, the Carriage Association and Carriage Museum of America.
The carriage house is maintained on the Morris Ranch and open to the public by reservation. The men said their carriage collection and driving horses has been a “family passion” for more than 60 years.
Stewart Morris Sr. and Stewart Morris Jr. have been a part of the Wharton community since Aug. 20, 1974 when the initial land for the Morris Ranch was purchased.
The elder Morris just celebrated his 100th birthday. He was born on Oct. 28, 1919.
He served our country in the U.S. Navy during World War II. He participated in seven invasions against Japanese forces in the South Pacific.
He started working for Stewart Title at the young age of 10 and is still working. Mr. Morris was married to Joella Mitchell Morris, who passed away in 2013. Together, they had three children, including Carlotta Coffman, Stewart, Jr. and Lisa Simon.
Contribution to our society
• Joella and Stewart Morris made possible an addition to the Wharton County Historical Museum, making way for the inclusion of the technology wing (a vast collection of electronic devices that have been developed and revised throughout the 1900s).
• Joella and Stewart Morris initiated an essay contest for all junior and senior students at Wharton High School, encouraging their exploration of historical artifacts at the Wharton County Museum and then preparing essays of their discoveries. Winning essays received prizes provided by the Morrises, and school staff were compensated for their efforts in reading and judging student essays.
• Joella and Stewart Morris pledged a significant matching contribution to make possible the renovation of a weight room for student athletes (and all students) use at Wharton High School.
• Mr. Morris invited noted individuals, such as Heisman winner Charlie Ward and noted Houston businesswoman Jane Edison to provide motivational, directional speeches to the student body at Wharton High School.
• Mr. Morris arranged for computers from his business, Stewart Title, and from Memorial Hermann Hospital System to be donated to Wharton Independent School District, enabling the creation of two computer labs in the school system.
• Mr. Morris endowed a $1 million scholarship for students from the Wharton area to attend Houston Baptist University.
• Mr. Morris has long supported the Wharton County Junior College Presidential Scholars program, providing financial support for specially selected students to participate in a year-long leadership and cultural arts program at the local community college. The Presidential Scholars program has enabled students to attend special events involving the Houston Symphony, the Museum of Fine Arts, sporting events, and travel to Washington, D.C. to meet with elected officials, investigate industry organizations and view national monuments and archives.
• Mr. Morris has financially supported the WCJC Foundation providing significant scholarship funds for students. Mr. Morris has also provided leadership as a trustee of the WCJC Foundation.
Parking and traffic flow
The WCC&A sent out letters to mostly downtown residents and business owners about the parade and cooperation it will need to alter parking and traffic flow.
Houston Street and Fulton Street will close around the courthouse about 4 p.m. on the day of the parade.
Milam and Burleson streets will close around the courthouse at about 5:30 p.m. on the day of the parade.
The WCC&A asks motorists to avoid parking on the interior side of Milam Street and the interior side of Fulton Street starting at 5 p.m. Monday for vendor space by the courthouse.
The parade will conclude around 8 p.m.