Longtime volunteer Ginny Morris, 73, leaves big shoes to fill

Ginny Morris

There’s one thing I knew for sure about Ginny Morris: She adored her kids.

And by kids, I mean her daughters, Karan and Kim, her grandchildren, Joshua, Conner and Savannah, every child whose life she touched as a care provider, and every young woman who passed through the Miss Farmington program.

The longtime community volunteer died on December 1, after suffering a stroke in her home on Thanksgiving Day.

As coordinator of the Miss Farmington pageant, Ginny accompanied contestants to countless community events. She coached and nurtured them, partnering with professionals who taught them how to speak and carry themselves with confidence. 

Every year, when the window for pageant registrations closed, she’d take me aside and say, “We’ve got a great group of girls this year.”

I once served as a pageant judge, because… well, you just didn’t say “no” to Ginny. She had a look that made you want to do whatever she asked.

Ginny lived at Farmington Place, a six-story building that houses seniors and people with disabilities. It rises from the heart of downtown Farmington, but I suspect many people don’t even realize it’s there. She regularly invited city staff and council members to talk with residents about what was happening around town and made sure candidates knew those folks voted, too.

About a week before her stroke, Ginny sent me an invitation to the annual Christmas party she organized as a “holiday gift” to Farmington Place residents.

“A little old man in a red suit may make a visit,” she wrote. “There may be a couple of surprises also for the residents, still working that part but so far so good hope you can swing by if only for a minute.”

Of course, I wouldn’t have stayed for just a minute.

Ginny lent her time and talents in many other places – her grandchildren’s school, the Farmington Hills/Farmington Foundation for Youth and Families, City of Farmington Hills Special Services Department programs, American Legion Post #346, and the Farmington Farmers and Artisans Market.

In 2010, she received the City of Farmington Hills Senior Division’s Gold Award for volunteerism. And three years ago, her Miss Farmington family surprised her with the pageant’s Walter Sundquist Humanitarian Award. 

Ginny Morris with Miss Farmingtons Grace Murphy and Emma Feeheley
Ginny Morris, right, is pictured at the Farmington Farmers and Artisans Market with Miss Farmington 2016 Grace Murphy (center) and Miss Farmington 2015 Emma Feeheley, left.

Ginny was born on October 11, 1945 in Waterford, Pennsylvania, to Arthur and Eileen (Bartlett) Donnell, and she’ll be buried in her hometown. A local celebration of her life will be arranged when her family returns from Pennsylvania.

She is survived by her devoted daughters, Karan (Timothy) Beaty and Kimberly (William) Diehr; her beloved mother, Eileen Donnell; three cherished grandchildren, Joshua Diehr, and Conner and Savannah Beaty; her brother, William Donnell; and a host of friends. Her father preceded her in death.

If you’d like to honor Ginny’s memory, the family suggests donating to Groves-Walker American Legion Post #346, 31775 Grand River Avenue, Farmington, MI 48336.

You might also consider stepping up your volunteer activities. Ginny Morris left behind some big shoes, and they’ll need to be filled.