In Memoriam: Richard S. "Chip" Morse

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The Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution announces with deep sorrow the death on December 14, 2014 of former Trustee and Corporation Member, Richard S. “Chip” Morse, Jr. 

Chip and his wife Susan became WHOI Associates in 1992.  Chip was elected a Member of the Corporation that same year.  He also served as a Trustee from 1997 to 2005. 

Through the years, Chip served on several committees: Audit Committee (Chair, 1994 to 1997); Business Development Committee; Committee on the Board; and most recently, the Coastal Ocean Institute Committee.  Chip also participated in the WHOI Science Partnership Program.   

Richard Stetson Morse, Jr. was born September 15, 1941.  He was the son of the late Marion E. (Baitz) Morse and the late Dr. Richard “Dick” S. Morse, who helped found the Minute Maid Corporation.  His late parents were WHOI Associates, and his father served as both a Corporation Member and an Honorary Member of the Institution.  Chip attended the Noble and Greenough School in Dedham; he earned a BA degree in economics from Princeton University, then served as communications and legal officer on a destroyer in the US Navy.  Following his discharge, he received his JD degree from Boston University School of Law. 

After law school, Chip joined the Boston law firm Hutchins & Wheeler, where he practiced corporate law for 22 years, becoming partner after seven years.  In 1992 he co-founded the law firm that became Morse, Barnes-Brown and Pendleton, P.C.; he stopped practicing law in 2004, but became ‘of counsel’ with the firm.  In addition to practicing law, Chip mentored younger lawyers, building a sustainable community of legal practitioners.  He also served as a board member of numerous organizations, including: Boston Private Bank and Trust Company; Candeos; Lexia Learning Systems, Inc.; Merrimack Valley Venture Forum; Newell Health Corporation (Chairman ); Newton-Wellesley Hospital (Chairman); Noble and Greenough School; Region Technology Development Corporation; and West Newton Savings Bank.

After he retired, Chip focused his attention on environmental activities centered on ocean sciences and the preservation of the waters and coastline of Buzzards Bay.  Chip served as a Trustee and was a member of the Board of Overseers of the Marine Biological Laboratory (MBL); he also chaired the Campus Planning Committee, which was instrumental in the affiliation between MBL and the University of Chicago.   Chip served as Vice Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Coalition for Buzzards Bay, Inc.  In November 2014, the Coalition honored him by naming the innovative living roof of their New Bedford headquarters the “Richard S. “Chip” Morse, Jr. Green Roof of the Buzzards Bay Center.”  Chip was the founding President and also served as the Chairman of the Board of the Quissett Harbor Preservation Trust, an organization dedicated to the protection and conservation of Quissett Harbor.

Chip grew up in Newton and moved to Boston when he married Susan (Grodin) Morse.  Upon his retirement in 2004, they became year-round residents of Woods Hole, where their Quissett Avenue home overlooked his beloved Quissett Harbor and Buzzards Bay.  In addition to his wife Susan, Chip is survived by two children: Richard S. Morse, III; and Laura (Morse) Shear; four grandchildren; and a brother, Kenneth P. Morse, WHOI Associate and resident of Woods Hole.  Chip has been described as an innate gentleman.  He was an avid sailor, and his love of the ocean and his deep appreciation for the bonds of family are gifts he has passed to the next two generations. 

Gifts in Chip’s memory may be sent to the Buzzards Bay Coalition, 114 Front Street, New Bedford, MA 02740, or the Quissett Harbor Preservation Trust, P.O. Box 197, Falmouth, MA 02541.

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