First married couple at the CU School of Medicine leaves legacy
Charles "Chuck" Elliot Morris, MD '55, and Naomi Carolyn Minner, MD '55, met as teenagers and were the first married couple admitted to the CU School of Medicine. While Chuck and Naomi have both now passed away, their lives serve as inspiration for future generations of physicians, thanks to a planned gift.
In 2019, the CU Anschutz Medical Campus established the Charles Elliot Morris Endowed Chair in Neurology, made possible with a commitment of nearly $2 million from their estate using a bequest of retirement assets.
The late couple both came from families with an appreciation for medicine and service. Chuck's father was a dentist who wanted to study medicine but did not have the resources to do so; Naomi's father was a physician. Chuck and Naomi's sons, Jonathan and David, followed suit by becoming physicians themselves. Jonathan is a psychiatrist with a public health degree, and David is a neurologist, like his father.
With this endowed chair, the family is carrying forward their legacy in medicine while also providing valuable resources to support top talent and innovative programs in the CU Department of Neurology for generations to come.
While Naomi named the Charles Elliot Morris Endowed Chair in Neurology in her husband's memory as a testament to his leadership and achievements in his field, it now serves to memorialize an entire family dedicated to learning, achievement and service to others through medicine.
"They wanted students to have the same opportunities they had," says their son Jonathan. "As a family, we want students to reach out and embrace the world, to become compassionate physicians and to graduate prepared to deliver the best health care possible."
After graduation from the CU School of Medicine in 1955, the couple interned at Los Angeles County General Hospital (now the Los Angeles County+USC Medical Center). Both received further training in Boston—Chuck in neurology at Harvard and the Boston City Hospital, and Naomi in ambulatory pediatrics at Massachusetts General Hospital and later at the Harvard School of Public Health (now the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health), where she earned a master's degree.
After Chuck served two years in the Navy, the couple joined the University of North Carolina faculty. They spent a one-year sabbatical in Guam, which saw Chuck as the director of the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke research laboratory, where he studied amyotrophic lateral sclerosis and Parkinsonian dementia, two conditions more prevalent there at the time than anywhere else in the world.
During their stint in Guam, Naomi served as the advisor to the chief public health officer for the U.S. Territory of Guam Health Department, a position especially created for her. She was the only doctor with a public health degree on the island.
The Morrises continued to travel the world before making their way back to Chapel Hill, North Carolina, where Naomi became chair of the Maternal and Child Health Department. Chuck was recruited to chair the Neurology Department at the Chicago Medical School in North Chicago, Illinois, where the family ultimately settled.
Their lives serve as inspiration for future generations of physicians. Even beyond Chuck and Naomi's lifetimes, their generosity will be felt for generations to come.
"Although they are both gone, they are still giving," Jonathan says. "That is a powerful message."
Like the Morrises, your legacy can endure for generations to come through a gift from your estate to CU. Contact the Office of Gift Planning at firstname.lastname@example.org or 303-541-1229 to start planning your legacy.