Endless generosity, a tireless work ethic, and unconditional kindness were just a few of the qualities Morris Furcron demonstrated in his 90 years, friends said.
A Wellington legend, he passed away Monday.
If you live in or near town, there’s a solid chance his work touched your life in some way.
The lifelong resident served as police chief from 1982 to 1995 and after retiring continued working as village zoning inspector until 2015.
Furcron was elected president of the Wellington Kiwanis in 2004, 2016, and 2017. He made a habit of setting the high-water mark in the organization’s annual Peterson nut sale, which puts a portion of proceeds toward college scholarships for Wellington High School seniors.
Friend and fellow Kiwanis member Ayers Ratliff said the sale will now also carry Furcron’s name.
“He just cared so much about this town and everyone in it,” said Ratliff. “My wife and I picked him up at home last year and he spoke at many school staff meetings about the sale. We visited him recently in his hospital room and he wanted to be picked up to start coming to Kiwanis meetings again. He said he’d be there if he could.”
Ratliff shared a number of stories Furcron had told over the years — from taking part in amateur boxing at Wellington’s Independent Fair before it merged with the Lorain County Fair in 1941 to writing himself a parking ticket during his time as police chief.
“Mo parked on the street during a snow ban, and woke up in the morning to find tickets on everyone’s car besides his,” Ratliff said. “He went right down to the police station, wrote himself a ticket, and paid it on the spot. He was a true American, a true Wellingtonian, and a good Christian man. I’m a better person having known him.”
Tim Barfield, hired in 2014 to lead Wellington’s police force, said Furcron took him under his wing.
“Mo was the zoning inspector when I got here and from the day I walked in he was nothing but helpful,” he said. “We had lots of conversations about lots of things, referencing policing and Wellington in general. He was a mentor to me when I came here and has certainly been a confidante the entire time, right up until he passed. He’s just a very well-loved man and a humble, hardworking man who wanted to be a public servant.”
Furcron had served as president of Well-Help since 2011. The nonprofit raises funds to provide food for low-income residents and families.
He also drove Wellington’s senior bus until sickness made it physically impossible, said village planning and zoning coordinator Marla Lent.
“We met when he was serving as chief but really got to know each other when he was zoning inspector,” she said. “Even in positions of authority, he treated everyone fairly and was never condescending. He was still active in so many things after he got sick and was at nearly every Kiwanis and Well-Help meeting. People don’t realize the number of lives he’s touched. He had a far-reaching impact on this community that will never be forgotten.”
The last Kiwanis meeting Furcron attended was in celebration of his 90th birthday, said Terry Mazzone, Furcron’s successor as the organization’s president.
“Each year, we ask our members to work two shifts at the Lorain County Fair selling tickets,” he said. “He would pick up four shifts, no questions asked. If it helped children, he was there doing his part. He set a high standard for the rest of us to strive to reach.”
After graduating from WHS in 1945, Furcron enlisted in the U.S. Army’s 82nd Airborne Division to train as a paratrooper and served in the 555th Parachute Infantry Battalion.
Upon his return to Wellington, he found a job as personnel director at the Sterling Foundry and stayed on there for 43 years. His work in that position earned him spots as president of both the Lorain County Safety Council and the Lorain County Personnel Council.
Main Street Wellington’s initial board of directors, Wellington Masonic Lodge 127, American Legion Post 8, the Oberlin NAACP, and the village’s First Congregational United Church of Christ have all called Furcron a member.
Mayor Hans Schneider remembered growing up near Furcron and befriending his nieces and nephews when they were visiting.
“I’ve known Mo for pretty much my entire life and have always had great respect for the man,” he said. “The older I got, the more the respect grew and the more I realized how much he meant to our community. He was selfless and believed in community service.”
As a final act of kindness in Furcron’s name, family members are asking that donations be made to Well-Help in lieu of flowers.
“The countless things he did between Kiwanis, Well-Help, as police chief, and as zoning inspector adds up to a tremendous loss for this town,” Schneider said. “It’s also not just about what he did for this community. It’s a tremendous loss on a personal level. He set a fine example the rest of us can only hope to live up to. He epitomized what Wellington is and what it stands for.”
Jonathan Delozier can be reached at 440-775-1611 or @DelozierNews on Twitter.