Emotional moments as fire station renamed for Rocky Morris

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POSTED: Tuesday, September 10, 2013 - 5:00am

UPDATED: Tuesday, September 10, 2013 - 5:04am

A small fire station on the southwest side of Donaldsonville has a new name, one that honors a man with a big heart.

The McCall-Palo Alto Fire Station on LA 1 South was rededicated as the Ronald "Rocky" Morris Fire Station on Monday.

Morris was a part-time firefighter for more than three decades, and rose to chief before McCall-Palo Alto was merged into the Donaldsonville Fire Department.

"You see, Rocky could have been a fire chief, he could have been the state fire marshal. He could have been just about anybody," claimed state fire marshal Butch Browning. "But I think he was a very unique person; he was happy with just serving."

Morris served Ascension Parish for 33 years. He also joined the fire and rescue teams at CF Industries. He worked there just as long, before he died in an accident in June. Friends describe him as the type of person who always gave of himself, without expecting anything in return.

"He's the guy that you'd call when you needed help with something, and he liked it," said Chuck Montero, chief of the Donaldsonville Fire Department and a long-time friend of Morris'. "He wanted you to call him to help with projects."

Losing someone like that was a shock to the whole community. One hundred sixty five people, including firefighters from departments around the parish, attended the renaming ceremony. But since Morris did not like the spotlight, his impact was not always obvious, even to his own wife.

"If there's one thing that I have learned over the past couple of months," Jeannie Morris noted, "is that Rocky had an abundance of friends. I knew he was great, but I didn't know you guys did."

Another volunteer, Ryan Schexnayder, first brought up the idea of naming Rocky Morris' old station after him. Montero took the idea to the parish council, and they immediately approved.

"And they actually were ready to do it before I was ready for it to happen," Montero added. "They were like, 'well, we're ready to do it at the next meeting.' And I'm like, 'wait, we don't have a sign or anything yet, we need to wait one more month to do this to organize it.'"

Morris brought his children with him to the station a lot when they were growing up, partly as a way to look after them if his wife was still at work. They learned about hard work there, and they inherited his love of public safety and giving back. So even if Rocky is not around, his legacy always will be.

"Now my grandchildren will know," Jeannie Morris said. "They will pass here and see this, and they will know how special this place was to him."

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