BY ANDREAS BUTLER
Daytona Beach lost one of its most beloved role models on July 12 when Coach Morris Small Jr., 71, died due to respiratory failure. He had been a resident of the Sandalwood Rehabilitation and Nursing Center. Small, a retired Volusia County Schools educator, spent 33 years in education and more than 40 serving his community. During that time, he was a math and physical education teacher as well as a basketball and football coach.
A memorial service will be held at 10 a.m. July 20 at Shiloh Missionary Baptist Church, 540 S. Martin Luther King Blvd., Daytona Beach.
A visitation is scheduled for 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. July 19 at R.J. Gainous Funeral Home, Mary McLeod Bethune Blvd., Daytona Beach.
‘A big heart’
Wayne Small reflected this week on his father’s kindness.
“I’ve followed in my father’s footsteps, not by design though. I teach and coach too. They say that I am in his spitting image,” the younger Small said.
“Like the Bible says, ‘Be careful who you entertain because you may have entertained angels unexpectedly.’ He was that person.”
He also spoke of his father’s generosity.
“If he had it, you had it. He loved to eat. He would take you out to dinner. If you had no money, he would pay for your meal. He opened his home to a homeless person who stole from him. That person went to jail, but Dad still forgave him and helped that person when they got out of jail.”
Willie Johnson recalled his 46 years of friendship with Small.
“He was a man of charity and love…like Paul said in the Bible. He was always kind and had a big heart,” Johnson told the Daytona Times. “People often took advantage of him, but he stayed a giver. If he had $5, he would make me take $3 and he would keep $2.’’
More than a coach
He was a father figure to many of the youth he encountered.
“Outside of my house, he was my dad. I called him Pops. He was a jolly person. He would be serious but always had fun,” Abner Gaines recalled.
“He enjoyed laughter and fun. He would tell us to be good and to do well but to also have fun. He wasn’t just our coach; he was our father. He was a Christian man, but would tell you like it is and give it to you straight.”
Campbell High and Cookman grad
Small was born on Nov. 25, 1947 to Morris Joseph Small Sr. and Florence Lovell. As a child, he attended Bonner Elementary School, then went on to Campbell High School and graduated in 1965. He was a standout basketball player at the all-Black high school.
Small attended then Bethune-Cookman College, where he was a member of the marching band. He earned his degree in physical education and mathematics in 1972.
Coached locally at all levels
He had a lengthy career coaching football and basketball at the junior high, high school and collegiate level.
Small was head boys basketball coach at Father Lopez Catholic High School. He was an assistant men’s basketball coach at Bethune-Cookman College and assistant football coach at both Father Lopez Catholic High and Ormond Beach Junior High (now Middle School).
In addition, he was physical education teacher and math teacher at the Ormond Beach school.
One of his coaching highlights was leading the 1994 Daytona Beach Housing Authority boys’ basketball team to a national championship.
Omega man and musician
His family said he enjoyed playing tennis, chess, coaching, and dining out at restaurants.
Small enjoyed a rich and rewarding community life.
He was a member of Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Inc. A man of faith, he was known for his booming baritone voice. He sang in the Men of Bethel choir as well as Celestial choir at Mt. Bethel Institutional Baptist Church in Daytona Beach, where he was a longtime member.
Small also played the saxophone and had a traveling band called the Collegiate All-Stars.
Survived by sons, other relatives
R.J. Gainous Funeral Home is in charge of arrangements.
Small is survived by his sons, Bernard Small, Wayne Small Sr. (Shelly), Kirkland Small (Latoya); ex-wife Stephanie Small; grandchildren, Leon Brown, Kasiah Small (Shakeem Dobson), Sakiah Small, Kierra Small, Raven Small, Wayne Small Jr., D’asia Small, Rushod Small, Trenton Small, Ezekiel Small; nieces, Michele Hanna (Darrell), Lydia Dyett; and a host of great grandchildren, cousins, and other relatives and friends.