BY ANDREAS BUTLER
Former New Jersey educator Agnes Latimer-Morris died on June 23 in East Orange, N.J. Morris was 81. She had ties to Daytona Beach, Bethune-Cookman University and its founder, Dr. Mary McLeod Bethune.
Latimer-Morris’ uncle was Dr. J. Seth Hill, the first Black physician at Bethune-Cookman.
He ran the McLeod Hospital for Blacks and was recruited to Daytona by Bethune.
Hill also served on Bethune-Cookman’s Board of Trustees and is the founder of St. Timothy’s Episcopal Church in Daytona.
Role models were Hill, Bethune
Dr. Hill had a profound influence on Morris’ life, a longtime family member noted.
“Dr. Hill was friends with the Johnson brothers who wrote the Black National Anthem, “Lift Every Voice and Sing” as well as W.E.B. Dubois. Dr. Hill really installed in her the value of education just as he did with all his descendants,” said Janeice Cochran-Day, who also was Latimer-Morris’ caretaker for the past 12 years.
During her early years, Latimer-Morris lived with her uncle whose home was across the street from Bethune’s.
“Dr. Bethune entrusted values in her that led to her becoming an outstanding educator and well-rounded person. She always talked about Dr. Bethune throughout her life. She often referred to her as ‘Auntie,’” Cochran-Day added.
Like family to Bethunes
Dr. Evelyn Bethune, granddaughter of Bethune-Cookman’s founder, said Latimer-Morris was “very close with our family. She was like family – more like a cousin. Agnus was very close with Jevona Miller, our relative who became a teacher at Bonner Elementary.”
Latimer-Morris also attended a preparatory school on the campus of Bethune-Cookman College for her early elementary education.
“I remember her and her uncle. Her uncle was a medical doctor. Agnes was a very studious and friendly person. She and her family were a very religious family. She was my friend and classmate,” recalls Vivian Charles.
When Morris returned to Daytona, she often visited the campus and the Bethune family.
“She always visited the Bethune family and often attended their reunions. She loved Dr. Bethune dearly,” added Cochran-Day.
Active in education, Episcopal Church
Latimer-Morris attended school in Rochester, New York and Jamaica, Rhode Island. She received her high school education at Boylan Haven School for girls and earned her bachelor’s degree from Talledega College in Alabama.
She married James Carlton Morris in 1953 after receiving her degree.
In addition, she was a member of several educational organizations and an active member in the Episcopal Church.
Latimer-Morris is survived by two sons, a stepdaughter, three grandchildren, four stepgrandchildren, three great grandchildren and two stepgrandchildren.
Funeral services were held at the Church of Epiphany in Orange, N.J., and burial was at Glendale Cemetery in Bloomfield, N.J.