Arlene Morris passed away peacefully at home on Tuesday, October 3rd at the age of 84. She was surrounded by music, her family, and a lot of love.
Arlene was born in December of 1938 to two very musical parents. She grew up in Monrovia, California and attended Monrovia High school (then called Monrovia-Arcadia-Duarte High School). In addition to sports, she played the trombone in the school band and the bass fiddle in the school orchestra. She also played the piano, accordion, ukulele, guitar, banjo, and violin.
Arlene graduated from Cal State Los Angeles with a degree in Education and an emphasis in Psychology. She was a member of the Alpha Theta Pi sorority and met her husband during a sorority trip to the beach in San Clemente. Maynard Morris, then a 1st lieutenant in the US Marines, was stationed at Camp Pendleton and they met at her sorority party. They married in 1962 and lived in Santa Monica, then Costa Mesa, and ultimately settled in La Canada in 1968.
After college Arlene taught school for Los Angeles Unified School District. She was a substitute teacher for kindergarten through 6th grade and she earned the adoration of her students by promising to perform magic tricks if they had good behavior. She taught her own 5th and 6th grade classes at Miramonte Elementary School and was also the reading intervention specialist. She was known for helping the most challenged students become successful readers, and she was awarded multiple LAUSD teaching awards.
Arlene retired from teaching school when her son was born in 1966, and she transitioned to teaching piano, ukulele, voice, and acting from her home. She taught music to children in the La Canada community for 50 years and prepared many children for their choir and theater auditions. In addition, she formed and directed a children’s singing and dancing troupe called The Stardusters, and many in the community still remember them dancing to “Joy to the World” by Three Dog Night in the Memorial Day Parade every year.
Arlene was also a performer herself. She sang in the Skylarks Choir, and then created her own performing quartet called The Tall Tones. The Tall Tones sang in four-part harmony, danced, and did comedy routines entertaining thousands throughout California for 15 years.
Family was the center of Arlene and Maynard’s lives, and their two children, Mark and Kimberly-Ann, were Arlene’s pride and joy. She supported their education as the Paradise Canyon PTA president, and she was their biggest cheerleader at all of their sports competitions, choir performances, dance performances, and theater productions. Arlene also supported her two grandchildren by babysitting them five days a week and teaching them how to read, sing, play the piano, and perform.
Arlene loved music, theater, animals, babies, flowers, color, USC football, LCHS Girls Volleyball, poetry, chocolate, and her family and friends. She will always be known for her outgoing personality, sense of humor, creativity, and her capacity to spotlight the best in others. She loved her town and started most days by saying, “Well, it’s another beautiful day in La Canada”.
Arlene is survived by her daughter (Kim), Son-in-law (Steve), and her two grandchildren (Danica and Jessie). Arlene lived with them during her last two years, and they continue to celebrate the joy, love, and laughter that she brought into their home every day.
A memorial service will be held in Arlene’s honor for all family and friends this Friday (10/27) at noon at Forest Lawn, Covina Hills (21300 Via Verde St, Covina). Wearing color to match Arlene’s colorful personality is welcome.