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Wayne Morris, longtime social worker with a colorful personality

WILMINGTON — Wayne Morris was surrounded by family and serenaded by Willie Nelson as he passed away early Sunday afternoon at New Hanover Regional Medical Center. He was a big man who left behind an even bigger legacy.

He is survived by Judy, his high school sweetheart and wife of 55 years and two daughters, Cara Belew of Wilmington and Kim Maise of Orlando. He considered himself lucky to have two excellent sons-in-law, Jim Belew and Charlie Maise. He was particularly proud of his grandchildren: Eliza Belew, a senior at Appalachian State University, Lucas Belew, a freshman at Cape Fear Community College, and Stuart Maise, fifth-grade honor student.

In addition to his family, he also loved music, good food, and helping people. After earning a masters degree in social work from Chapel Hill, he worked for Head Start and the Neighborhood Youth Corps. He later became the director of social services in Union County. In 1978, he became the Director in New Hanover County, where he served until retirement in 2002. During his tenure, he was honored by the North Carolina Association of County Departments of Social Services as director of the year and, later, with a lifetime achievement award.

After retirement, he enjoyed traveling with his wife to New Orleans and San Antonio, enjoying the music and local cuisines that brought him so much joy. At home, he continued to build the collection of LPs he started when he was 14 years old. Nothing made him happier than an evening spent with family, preparing one of his delicious dinners, all while drinking a beer and listening to good music. He also continued his life’s work by serving on the New Hanover County Board of Social Services.

The family will be celebrating his life on Thursday, Oct. 6, 2016, at 6 p.m. at Andrews Mortuary on Market Street. The family asks attendees to not wear black, since he was a colorful man who deserves a colorful farewell. The family asks that instead of flowers, you consider one or more of the following:

  1. Make a donation to either the Salvation Army or Autism Awareness.
  1. Enjoy your family and a good tune.
  1. Have a cold beer (just not at Andrews Mortuary).

Condolences to the family at

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