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BASE Jumping: Articles: Stories: Steve Morrell Stories: My Steve Story

Steve Morrell Stories: My Steve Story new

by Melissa Blanton and Bob Morrell
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So many of the stories included here contain the first person pronoun "I" that I know you are wondering who the heck wrote them. It is simply impossible to write about Steve in the third person because we knew each other so well for so long. We met in tenth grade and maintained a relationship of one type or another until the day he died. The "I" in these tales is simply an old girlfriend, friend, confidante, advisor, and one who often required his support and caring. I prefer to remain anonymous. The information and a few paragraphs found in most of these stories came from Bob or Steve's mother, Carroll, though some of it is personal recollection and things Steve told me in letters and conversations. As with all memories, there are fuzzy parts and some is second and maybe even third hand.

How did I get involved in adding more Steve Stories to the Memorial Web Site? I am a high school English teacher. Years ago I was explaining the concept of foils to my Honors 10 students-characters who are totally opposite and set each other off by contrast. Sometimes they become fast friends. I gave the real life example of Steve and me. I am the type who fastens my seat belt, obeys the speed limit, hates to fly, and prefers to sit at home with a good book. You know how Steve was. The students became fascinated with Steve and definitely NOT fascinated with yours truly. Several of the boys became Steve's unofficial fan club. They wanted to know about everything he did. Naturally, I had to censor some of his activities. Their fondest wish was to meet the glorious Steve, their idol. This idolatry went on until they were seniors.

Steve, in his usual generous way, arranged to take one of his Charlotte layovers to come and visit the boys. They could hardly contain themselves, checking every few minutes to see if he had arrived yet. I had given him very specific directions, but when he finally got to my classroom, he bitched that I hadn't included any distances, just landmarks. My response was, "Hey, I'm not a pilot and you got here, didn't you?"

Steve spent lots of time showing his fan club pictures of his BASE jumps, CRW, and hang gliding. I made certain before he came that none of the photos showed him doing any of these things in the nude. That night he attended a high school football game, probably the first one he had been to since we graduated. He ogled the cheerleaders, of course, but spent most of the time entertaining his fan club with totally untrue stories about how I behaved in college. He claimed I had attended a toga party with him, which I most certainly did not, but for days after that I had to hear, "Toga! Toga!" from a bunch of sophomores. Steve couldn't even go to the restroom without some kid saying, "Hi, Steve!" while poor Steve tried to do his business. But he loved the attention.

He planned a hiking trip with his fan club and asked me to go along, as if that was going to happen. My husband had been very understanding where Steve was concerned, not minding if Steve stayed in our guest bedroom or if I visited him wherever he was living at the time, chaperoned, of course, but I think he would have drawn the line at long nights in the woods together. Somehow the boys ended up not going-perhaps Steve's reputation frightened their parents or something (I wonder why?)-but he did call them, talked to their parents and really tried to set the whole thing up. In the end, it was just Steve, his current girlfriend, and his niece and nephew who went on the trip, which was probably for the best. Beth and Rob got to spend quality time with Steve just before he died. His fan club didn't dreamed that they would never have another chance to go hiking with him, and I never dreamed that that night would be the last time I would ever see him.

I was devastated by his death, and one of the hardest things I have had to do was tell the boys what had happened. All of my students felt that they had lost someone they knew, if only by reputation. I was inundated with flowers, cards, and letters. One boy even presented me with a rabbit's foot, saying I probably needed a little luck right about then. His fan club even stopped wearing those hideous CRW black tee shirts that proclaimed Steve "Dead Man Morrell". They didn't seem cool any more. I spent the school year of 1996-1997 on auto-teacher, but we all got by and eventually began to heal. I can now stop being miserable because I lost him but happy that I had him in my life at all.

Steve's legend lives on in my school. Stories have been passed down from grade to grade. His original fan club has graduated from college. One member is in law school at Duke. (He still has that tee shirt.) My current students still beg for Steve Stories. Telling them creates a living memorial to my first love and a wonderful, loving friend.

{Major Stephen A. Morrell (USAF) was a pioneer in many area's of skydiving, including CRW and BASE jumping. 1956-1996}

Stephen A. Morrell Memorial Site & Foundation


Submitted by Melissa Blanton and Bob Morrell on 2009-09-23

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 tdarst
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 2009-09-24
5 out of 5 stars I still have my Steve "Deadman" Morrell T-Shirt, too; however, I have not worn it since his death, nor do I intend to. Everytime I see it in my closet, I have fond memories.

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