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Morris, Dixie Lou O’Connor

Morris, Dixie Lou O’Connor

October 4, 1923 — December 22, 2021

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Dixie's services

- Obituary -

Dixie Lou O’Connor Morris

On a long ago Thursday, at 12:30 noontime, a girl child was born in the home of her maternal grandparents, at 614 Cherry Street in Chillicothe, Missouri.   The date was October 4, 1923.   She was named Dixie Lou.

Dixie Lou passed away Wednesday, December 22, 2021 at her home in Kansas City, Missouri, with her two sons and other family members present. She was 98 years and 2 months of age.

Her parents were Lena Irene Dearing O’Connor and James Lester O’Connor. They lived in Chillicothe, Salisbury, and Kansas City, Missouri. On September 4, 1928, Dixie entered Scarritt Grade School and made an acquaintance in kindergarten with Frances Grego Glenn, a friendship that lasted 92 years until Frances died January 15, 2021.

After her third grade year in Kansas City, Dixie and her parents then moved to Tucson, Arizona during the Great Depression before moving back to Salisbury, Missouri, in 1936. She graduated from Salisbury High School with the great class of 1940.

Dixie next attended the Kansas City Conservatory of Music where she received a Bachelor of Music degree in Music Education. Her Master of Music Ed Degree was earned at Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois. She received permission to give a voice recital in Lutkin Chapel in lieu of a thesis for her degree requirements. She taught in Kansas City, Missouri, and Bonner Springs, Kansas, before moving to Northwest Junior High School in Kansas City, Kansas, for 10 years, where she was “Miss O” to many students. She was still in touch with several former students at her passing.

On June 6, 1954. Dixie married Thomas F. Morris, also a faculty member at Northwest Junior High School. After the birth of her first son, she no longer taught at schools but became a piano instructor for 50 years with over 200 students.

Music was her passion. Along with piano instruction, she served as an accompanist for vocal soloists, choral groups, and instrumental soloists. After being asked to “fill in for two weeks,” she also served the Rosedale United Methodist Church as organist for 36 years, the last 10 as organist-choirmaster. Those choir members were like part of her family. After a brief respite, she served Cherokee Christian Church as organist for ten years and she often filled in for organists in other Kansas City churches.

It was her membership in various music organizations that defined her and brought her friendships that covered every day of her life.

Sigma Alpha Iota (SAI), an international music fraternity for professional women musicians, was one organization that was a major priority in her life. Dixie was initiated on March 7, 1942. From that date she served the fraternity in many capacities, including being president of Tau Chapter at the Conservatory, president of the Kansas City Alumnae Chapter, Pi Province President (state of Missouri), and National Vice President of College Extension.

Dixie’s SAI awards included Sword of Honor, Rose of Honor, Rose of Constancy, Ring of Excellence, the Dorothy Whinery Special Leadership Award. At the 2006 national convention she received the Diamond Sword of Honor and in August of this year her final award was the Wreath of Achievement. She remained active in SAI until shortly before her death.

The UMKC Conservatory of Music also held a special place in her life and she was a dedicated alumna. She represented the Conservatory on the UMKC Alumni Association for six years, serving on special committees, and helped research and edit information for the 100th anniversary publication “Rhythms of a Century.” Of special significance to her was being a member and officer of the Women’s Committee for the Conservatory of Music and Dance.

Organization memberships included Sigma Alpha Iota, MacDowell Music Club, Merriam Music Club, Delta Kappa Gamma, Kansas City Musical Club, Musical Arts Club, PEO, United Methodist Women - Broadway/Keystone, UMKC Alumni Association, Northwestern Alumni Association, and many others. Dixie also served at her sons’ schools in many capacities from home room mother in grade school to President of the Tooters Club at Southwest High School.

But it was the friends she had from these educational pursuits and organizations was the most meaningful to her. Dixie’s address book was filled with page after page of friends who she stayed in contact with via notes, cards, and phone calls throughout her life, almost up to her last day. There are too many friends to list here, but the family hopes to contact each one in some way.

Dixie’s loving husband Tom passed away on December 20, 2019. She is survived by her son Connor Morris (Nancy), son John Kevin Morris, granddaughter Jenna Hauschild (Shane), grandson Andrew Morris and three great grandchildren. She maintained her complete mental capacity until the end and could recall memories all the way back to her childhood.

A memorial service will be held at 10:00 AM on Thursday, December 30, 2021 at St. John’s UMC, 6900 Ward Parkway. Reception to follow service.

The family suggests memorial contributions to Women’s Committee/O’Connor-Morris Scholarship, UMKC Foundation, Attn: M Mattison, 4949 Cherry Street, Kansas City, MO 64110 or SAI Philanthropies, One Tunnel Road, Asheville, NC 28805.

Service Information

*** Click the following web-link to livestream
Dixie’s services

Funeral services will be 10AM, Thursday, December 30 at St. John’s United Methodist Church, 6900 Ward Parkway, Kansas City, Missouri; interment in Memorial Park Cemetery.

The family suggests memorial contributions to Women’s Committee/O’Connor-Morris Scholarship, UMKC Foundation, Attn: M Mattison, 4949 Cherry Street, Kansas City, MO 64110 or SAI Philanthropies, One Tunnel Road, Asheville, NC 28805.


Morris, Dixie Lou O’Connor's Guestbook

Thank you all for your memories and thoughts on mom. It is so much appreciated.

John Kevin Morris

Dixie Lou was a good friend of my mother's, Marguerite Baeke. They were in SAI, Merriam Music Study Club and PEO together. Dixie Lou performed the SAI memorial ceremony at my mother's funeral in 2005 . She was always proud that she had all of the SAI ceremonies memorized. As a child, I accompanied my mother to Dixie Lou and Tom's house on multiple occasions. We were always welcome. Blessings to your family at this time of loss. Joni Baeke-Hartong

Joni Baeke-Hartong

Oh my goodness, did I ever love Miss O’Conner. She was my home room & chorus teacher starting age 13. She was such a good sport & ever so brave to take on a rambunctious bunch of children fresh out of grade school. She was the perfect lady to help us find our way. She tried to look stern, at our shenanigans, but couldn’t hide her (loving) grin as she looked away. I think my friend Carol Yount & I grew up, a lot, under her loving care. I will be so happy to see her again in Eternity. Sandy Kuyper

Sandra Dickson, later Sandy Kuyper

Really great lady-Responsible for a wonderful family.

Roy A Beaty

Dixie Lou was a generous soul and devoted lover of music and music education. The two scholarships in her name will benefit UMKC Conservatory students for generations to come!

Mark Mattison

Dixie Lou Morris will always be "Miss O'Connor" to me. I was 12 years old and in her chorus class at Northwest Jr. High School in Kansas City, KS. She remained one of my best teachers, and, in the last 20 years, my friend as well. I was fortunate to visit her, and husband, Tom, in their home in Kansas City several times. Her death brings the end of an era, for me. We were able to reminisce about persons we knew, and times we had in common. She was the last of my living teachers who I had through high school. I was indeed fortunate to know her.

Jim Rhodes (aka- Jimmy)

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