James A. Morris Sr., 88, a retired railroad conductor and former prisoner of war, died of heart disease Monday at Dunwoody Village, a retirement community in Newtown Square.
For almost 30 years, Mr. Morris was a conductor on the Media Local for the Pennsylvania Railroad and then for SEPTA. He retired in 1982.
He grew up in Ardmore and graduated from West Philadelphia Catholic High School for Boys.
During World War II, he served in the Army artillery and then transferred to the Army Air Corps as a safer alternative, his son James Jr. said. In March 1944, he was copilot of a B-17 that was shot down near Eu, France. He and the pilot managed to land in a muddy cornfield. Two French teenagers cleaned them up before the Germans shipped the airmen to a POW camp in Poland.
In January 1945, that camp was evacuated. The prisoners marched in snow and then traveled in cattle cars to a camp in Germany. They were liberated that April by GIs including Mr. Morris' brother-in-law, Ed Castro, who ran through the camp shouting his name.
In 1995, Mr. Morris was reunited in France with the former teenagers who had helped him, and was given a piece of his salvaged plane.
Mr. Morris married Elizabeth Costello Morris in 1948. He and his wife, a registered nurse, were founders of and longtime volunteers with the Newtown Square Ambulance Company. He also helped establish the Newtown-Edgmont Little League.
His passions were his family, golf and gardening.
In addition to his wife and son, Mr. Morris is survived by sons Thomas and John, daughters Elizabeth Dejewski and Frances Lake, 16 grandchildren, and four great-grandchildren.
A Funeral Mass will be said at 10 a.m. today at St. Anastasia Church, 3301 West Chester Pike, Newtown Square. Friends may call from 8:30 to 9:30 a.m. today at the Stretch Funeral Home, 236 E. Eagle Rd., Havertown. Burial will be in St. Denis Cemetery, Havertown.