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Diane Dees Morris

Diane Dees Morris was the first child born to Kathryn Bennett Dees and Joe B. Dees on July 26, 1948.

Diane attended DeRidder schools and graduated from D.H.S., Class of 1966, and Northwestern State University in 1969, with a Bachelor’s degree in Education.

Diane and her sweetheart, E.L. Morris, Jr., always called “Junior”, eloped.  They married July 21, 1967, while Junior was on leave from the U.S. Army, prior to his deployment to Vietnam during the Vietnam Conflict.  They later honeymooned during his “R & R” leave in Hawaii. Upon Junior’s return stateside and completion of military service, he worked in Natchitoches while Diane completed her degree.  Upon graduation, Diane and Junior returned home to DeRidder.

Diane began teaching health and physical education at DeRidder High School.  In the fall of 1971, Diane became known as “Coach Morris”, coaching the DeRidder Lady Dragons.  She was a trailblazer for girls’ sports and female coaches.  She led the Lady Dragons to multiple titles including three AAAA State Girls’ basketball Championships.  She was honored as the Most Valuable Girls Basketball Coach in the State of Louisiana on multiple occasions, and was asked to coach at the State Girls’ All Star games.  During her tenure as coach, her children, Stacey and Kelli, were born.  She left her coaching career to devote more time to her family.  Later she coached again when her girls were in high school.  Diane taught at D.H.S. for 23 years.

Before retiring from education, Diane spent two years at the central office as the Drug Education Coordinator for Beauregard Parish Schools.  She worked in partnership with Beauregard Sheriff, Bolivar Bishop, and his staff, to implement the D.A.R.E. program in all elementary schools in the parish and to present many motivational workshops.  She also worked closely with families to assist them in their children’s needs for substance abuse treatment.  This program, and others implemented as part of her position with the parish office, were on the cutting edge for our parish educators and students.

After retirement from Beauregard Parish schools, she was asked to assist Rosepine Elementary School with their Special Education Program for two years.  Her rewards from this short period of time spent with some very special children she recalled as some of her greatest memories as an instructor.

Diane had several other jobs after retirement from education, including working as a dispatcher with the E-911 office, 1996-1999.  Diane and Junior then organized and owned a construction company that specialized in clearing right of ways for electric co-ops from 2000, until the sale of the company in 2004.

When Junior and Diane “officially” retired, they moved to Toledo Bend Lake in 2006.  Diane fulfilled a dream involving her love for nature and the outdoors by becoming a park ranger at South Toledo Bend State Park.  Her favorite part was taking visitors on tours to see the eagle nests located at the lake.

Diane had a servant’s heart, and moving back to DeRidder in 2009, she volunteered as a phone counselor for 10 years with HELPLINE, that later evolved into Beauregard Community Concerns.  Diane was a charter and organizing member of the BEAU-CARE program, an organization focusing on our youth.  Diane was involved in many other civic and community groups some of which included:  charter member of Beta Sigma Phi (Epsilon Omicron chapter); Delta Kappa Gamma (teachers’ organization); Jaycee Jaynes; the first female member of Lion’s Club; the DeRidder Garden Club; and the Retired Teachers Organization.  Diane was a member of the board and past president of Beauregard Council on Aging.

The last mentioned, but most important aspect of Diane’s life is her faith in God.  She continued to lean on this faith throughout all of her personal and health challenges.  She served at several churches as a Sunday School teacher and in church training.  At the time of her death, Diane was a member of Grace Church in DeRidder.  She loved attending Grace, as many of her own family members also attend Grace, and that made services even more meaningful.

Diane is survived by her husband of 50 years, Eldridge L. Morris, Jr., two daughters and their husbands: Stacey Dowden and Pat, Kelli Bush and Pete; six grandchildren: Sydney, Lily, and Levi Dowden; and Shelbi Bush Wambles, Jacob and Taylor Bush; her mother, Kathryn Dees Cagle; sister:  Jane VanNamen and husband, Paul; brother:  Gary B. Dees and wife Patricia; two special aunts, Betty Bennett Henderson and Molly Bennett Glass; many nieces, nephews, special cousins, devoted friends, and a host of students whose lives she changed and influenced during her years of service in education and the community.  She is preceded in death by her father, Joe B. Dees, Jr., and grandparents:  Rev. and Mrs. Broughton Dees and Mr. and Mrs. R.A. Bennett.

“It is not the length of life, but the depth of life.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

Visitation will be held on Tuesday, August 29, 2017 from 5:00-9:00 pm at Grace Church in DeRidder, LA.  Funeral services will be held Wednesday, August 30, 2017 at 12:00 pm, also at Grace Church.  Pastor George Lee Glass and Pastor James Glass will officiate.  Private family burial to be held at Woodlawn Cemetery in DeRidder at a later date.

Diane Dees Morris
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