Thomas J. Morrison Jr., 90, of Ambler, a decorated World War II veteran and recipient of the French Legion of Honor, died Thursday, Nov. 27, of complications from a stroke at Abington Memorial Hospital.
Born in Jenkintown, he graduated from Ambler High School in 1943 and was drafted into the Army. He served from October 1943 until January 1946.
Mr. Morrison served in the 101st Airborne Division. On June 7, 1944, he saw action as an artilleryman in the glider forces sent across the English Channel to replace others killed in action. His specialty was forward observation techniques.
He was then assigned to Operation Market Garden, the Allied airborne invasion of the Nazi-held Netherlands, and later saw combat in Belgium during the Battle of the Bulge. One of his proudest moments came when, as part of a glider unit, he helped liberate the Netherlands.
He was awarded the European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign Medal with five Bronze Stars and a Bronze Arrowhead. The Netherlands honored him with its orange lanyard, and Belgium gave him its fourragère, shaped like a braided cord.
In 2011, when Mr. Morrison was awarded the French Legion of Honor at the French Embassy in Washington, his daughter, Suzanne J. Morrison, was there to witness the presentation. He was reluctant to go, but "it was very moving, really beautiful," his daughter said.
In 1963, intrigued by the idea of free fall, Mr. Morrison took up sport parachuting and helped organize the United Parachute Club in New Hanover.
He served as the club's president and treasurer. Known to fellow sportsmen as "the Colonel," he completed 9,782 jumps and made his last jump on July 4, 2008, at the annual Carnival and Fireworks show at Wissahickon High School. He was then 84.
He told family that some of his most memorable jumps were made in the Netherlands every four years since 1969 on the anniversary of the country's liberation - and the jump he made with former President George H.W. Bush in 1999.
Mr. Morrison chose advertising specialties and promotional sales as a career. In 1953, he started a home business, the Morrison Co., and never retired.
Mr. Morrison was an amateur meteorologist, a wedding photographer, a skier, and a deer hunter. Since 1969, he had been a member of the Rotary Club of Ambler. He also loved tinkering at home.
"He was a slave to his home and yard and loved it," said his daughter. "He adored his home and his family."
Surviving besides his daughter are two grandchildren; two brothers; and his companion, Emilie Klein.
His wife, Elaine Hazlett Morrison, died in 2005; his son, Thomas J. "Tuck" Morrison, died in 2013.
A viewing at 9:30 a.m. Thursday, Dec. 4, at the First Presbyterian Church of Ambler, 4 S. Ridge Ave., will be followed by an 11 a.m. funeral service. Interment will be in Whitemarsh Memorial Park, Ambler.
Donations may be made to the U.S. Parachute Association, Att: AAD Fund, 5401 Southpoint Centre Blvd., Fredericksburg, Va. 22407.