William Wallace Morris, III was surrounded by family and friends when he was called away on November 30, 2021.
Bill, as he was known by all, was born on January 23, 1944, at Randolph Field in San Antonio, Texas. His father was a flight instructor for the United States Air Force. This role meant Bill moved around a lot as a child. Bill grew up on many different air bases across the United States. It was at these bases where his curiosity in the how of flying developed. He spent his youth studying World War I and building model aircraft. His attention to detail on these miniatures served him well as he began to study math. His studies lead him to understanding the designs and functions of aerodynamics. After graduating high school Bill attended the University of Texas in Austin. It was there he joined the ROTC and studied engineering. He also met his future wife, Carole. Upon graduating in 1967, with a BS in Aerospace Engineering, he was commissioned as a 2nd Lieutenant in the United States Air Force.
He began his military career in California working on and building satellites. During his first year in the Air Force, he and Carole Sue Lashbooke were married. They moved to Florida and were stationed at Patrick Air Force Base. Here Bill applied his knowledge of aerospace engineering. He managed the teams that launched satellites into orbit. For his efforts and success, he earned the Master Missileman Badge. While in Florida he and his wife had two sons. Bill and his family then moved to Andrews Air Force Base in Maryland. His ability to solve seemingly insurmountable challenges lead him to be tasked with addressing the Air Forces’ need for technical talent. He put together a program to attract and recruit engineers to support the expanding Air Force mission involving space. His test program was a resounding success, and he was awarded the Air Force Commendation Medal. He and his family then moved to their last station, Wright Patterson Air Force Base in Ohio. It was here Bill returned to applying his aviation and engineering skills to solving complex problems involving the F-16 Fighting Falcon program. In this role he came to know his future teammates at General Dynamics.
In 1987 he retired from the US Air Force as a Major. Several years later he moved to Fort Worth to work for General Dynamics. He spent nearly a decade working on his favorite modern military aircraft, the F-16. Upon being asked to retire from General Dynamics, he took up a hobby that appealed to his exacting nature and mathematical mind, scuba-diving. The time and training he invested in this hobby lead him to earning the designation of Dive Master. He spent several more years working at a local dive shop. While working there he put his scuba skills to use as the dive master for groups of vacationing tourists in places such as Cozumel and Honduras.
In 2011, he found a place to indulge his love of history and flight, the Fort Worth Aviation Museum. He spent the last decade of his life making their mission his mission; to Preserve, Inspire and Educate. He became a member of the board of directors. The passion of his youth for old aircraft shown through in his work with the museum. His past roles at managing and guiding teams to achieving nigh impossible results lead him to his final challenge. He put together a project plan to restore the second production line prototype YF-16. As with every project he handled, he was mission-focused and solution-oriented. He mapped out the multi-year plan to restore this aircraft to its original beauty and splendor. He surrounded himself with a well-trained and dedicated group of individuals, of whom he oft said, “...are the best team I’ve ever worked with”.
Those who came to know Bill during their own lives, immediately respected him. He freely shared his knowledge of all thing’s aviation and engineering. During discussions he encouraged others to want to know more about the topics being broached. This is evident in his sons. He encouraged them not just to explore and try new things but to understand the details within these subjects; be it music, sports, history, writing or math. Though neither came with an instruction manual, he successfully shepherded them into manhood. When not restoring the YF-16, his grandchildren were the focus of his world. Watching them grow up while imparting his knowledge and wisdom to their generation brought him joy and satisfaction with his legacy. Telling others of his children and grandchildren made his eyes sparkle brighter than any star he sought to reach with his satellites.
Bill was preceded in death by his parents, William W. Morris, Jr and Lena Catherine; and his wife Carole.
Those who remain to cherish and honor his memory include his sons, Christopher (Julie) Morris, and Alexander (Heather) Morris; his grandchildren, Antonio, Aidan, and Alexis; along with his brother, Robert (Eunice) Morris and their children, Robert, and Amy. In addition to his immediate family, the members and volunteers of the Fort Worth Aviation Museum will share his love of history and aviation with all who wish to hear the story.
Memorials: In lieu of the traditional flowers or greenery, the family requests those wishing to acknowledge Bill’s life to donate to the Fort Worth Aviation Museum to honor his memory.
Funeral Services: 9:30 a.m., Thursday, December 16, 2021, at Winscott Road Funeral Home, 1001 Winscott Road, Benbrook, Texas 76126. Burial: 11:30 a.m. at Dallas-Fort Worth National Cemetery, 2000 Mountain Creek Pkwy, Dallas, Texas.