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Obituaries

Eddie Morris, 79; Huntington Beach Track Champion

July 19, 2002|JOHN ORTEGA | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Eddie Morris, a four-time state sprint champion for Huntington Beach High School, has died. He was 79.

Morris died of congestive heart failure June 24 at a retirement home in Vancouver, Wash.; he had been paralyzed from the chest down last August.

Morris was known as the "World's Fastest Schoolboy" and the "Huntington Beach Bullet" when he won the 100- and 220-yard dashes in the 1940 state track and field championships.

"He was so far ahead of his time ... running on these crummy dirt tracks and using this crummy equipment," said Jim Stangleland, a teammate of Morris at Huntington Beach. "I don't know what he could have done on these new Olympic tracks, but he could really fly."

Morris was a well-muscled high school senior whose strength helped him run 9.5 seconds in the 100-yard dash and 20.7 in the 220 that in those days was run on a straightaway instead of around a curve.

The 220 time tied the then-national high school record set by Jesse Owens in 1933.

Morris never got a chance to make an Olympic team because World War II forced the cancellation of the Games in both 1940 and 1944.

Hamstring injuries slowed Morris at Santa Ana College in 1941 and at USC in 1942, and he entered the Army later that year.

He was awarded the Purple Heart after being wounded in the South Pacific in World War II and received a second one while in the Air Force in the Korean War.

His knees were badly damaged in Korea after he was hurled through the air by the force of an exploding bomb.

Morris worked for Richfield Oil (now Atlantic Richfield) for 27 years after the Korean War ended.

He retired in the early 1980s and spent much of his time hunting and fish- ing.

Arthritis forced him to undergo surgery on his neck and back last year.

While recovering from back surgery, he suffered an accident in his wheelchair that left him paralyzed from the chest down.

Morris, who lived in Vancouver for the past 12 years, is survived by his former wife, Janet Glander; daughters Casey, Caralee Harrel and Clare Stijovic; seven grandchildren; and four great grandchildren.

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