Richard A. Morrell
It is said “the good die young” but this adage does not apply to Richard “Dick” Morrell who died peacefully on April 7, 2023 at the age of 94 after a period of declining health. Dick was a man who trusted his instincts and had a wonderful sense of what mattered in life. Although born in Maine’s largest city, he grew up in Brunswick and enjoyed lifelong friendships with his childhood friends. Like his father and brother, he graduated from Bowdoin College. The keystone of his life was meeting and marrying Eleanor Manning who he met at a Bowdoin dance in 1947. They married in Eleanor’s hometown of New Britain Connecticut in 1950. Dick spent a short time working with General Electric in Bridgeport, Connecticut before serving in the Army Signal Corps for two years where he was stationed in Georgia and France. Following his service, Dick and Eleanor (Smokey) settled in Brunswick, raised four children and became deeply involved in their community.
Dick’s father started the Brunswick Coal Company in the early 1900s and both Dick and his brother Bob joined the family business in the 1950s. The brothers led the company into the third generation growing it and renaming it Brunswick Coal & Lumber and eventually, Downeast Energy & Building Supply.
Dick was a man of integrity, confidence, and professionalism. He always took the high road and considered the best interests of his family, the business, and the greater community. His business success ran parallel to a lifetime of civic engagement and philanthropy. In the 1960s, Dick became involved in local politics serving on the Brunswick Board of Selectmen and in the Maine Legislature and Senate. He ran on a platform that called for government to face challenges with “human concern, imagination, and prudence.” When the local papers looked for controversy during one close election, Dick described his rival as “a damn good man,” and his rival said of Dick. “I can’t help liking him.” He once wrote an editorial urging others to be engaged in politics, saying “Maine would be better off if more people were involved.” In 1978, after a major fire at Brunswick Coal & Lumber, Dick withdrew from a state senate race to focus on the company’s recovery.
Dick was a prodigious fundraiser. He supported many causes in his community and ran many campaigns including the United Way, the Boy Scouts and an expansion at the former Parkview Memorial Hospital. Among the accomplishments he was most proud of was his board service for Regional Memorial Hospital (eight years) and Mid Coast Health Services (twenty-one years). He was instrumental in the merger of the Bath and Brunswick hospitals that created Mid Coast Hospital in 2001 which resulted in attracting more specialists and physicians to the region.
Dick cared deeply about protecting Maine’s natural resources, serving on the board of trustees at Bigelow Laboratory for Ocean Sciences and as chair in 2005.
Bowdoin College was a constant in his life. He treasured his friendships with alumni, faculty and staff and served as an overseer, trustee and chair of many committees. One impressive idea that Dick brought to life was the commissioning of a statue honoring former Maine governor, Civil War hero, and Bowdoin president Joshua Chamberlain which straddles the line between the Bowdoin campus and Brunswick’s downtown.
Dick had a remarkable life force. He was full of energy and devoted to the people he loved. Beyond his family, this included his very valued employees, colleagues, customers, and friends as well as his summer community on the Isle of Springs in Boothbay, where he and Eleanor (Ellie) hosted family and island-wide celebrations at their farmhouse.
The family would like to express heartfelt thanks and appreciation of the care team at Mid-Coast Senior Health Center for their loving and attentive care for Dick over the last 18 months. They all made Dick feel like he was residing in the Ritz or better yet, at home.
Dick was predeceased by his parents Allen E. and Ellen B. Morrell, his brother Bob Morrell and his brother-in-law, Cam Niven.
He leaves behind his wife Eleanor Morrell and children Sandy Morrell-Rooney and husband, Chuck Rooney; Deb Morrell Polackwich and husband Alan; Jim Morrell; Betsy Morrell and husband, Brad Booth; grandchildren, Jessica Morrell Erickson and husband, Doug; Scott Polackwich and wife, Rebecca Wehby; Elise Morrell Delisi and husband, Joe; Evan Morrell and wife, Zoe; Isadora Morrell Osgood; Elliot Osgood and wife, Christine; Dorian Ascher Booth and fiancé, Sandy Liang and 10 great grandchildren: Anna, Adam & Jamie Erickson; Rowan and Signe Polackwich; Lily, Mia, JJ and Emmy Delisi and Charlie Osgood as well as sister-in-laws and their families, Betsy Niven and Nan Morrell.
In lieu of flowers, please consider a memorial contribution to: Mid Coast Senior Health Center Building Fund, Att:Connie Jones-Morris, P.O. Box 297, Brunswick, ME 04011; First Parish Church, 9 Cleaveland Street, Brunswick ME 04011; or Isle of Springs Memorial Fund, c/o Anne Morehouse, IOS Treasurer, 54 Water Street, Leeds, MA 01053
A funeral service will be held Saturday, April 22 at 1 p.m. at the First Parish Church in Brunswick with a reception to follow. Memories and condolences can be shared in the obituary section at www.brackettfh.com