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Spivey Hall remembers accomplished organist

Richard Morris sits at an organ in Spivey Hall in this 2008 photograph. Morris, who was the concert facility’s organist-in-residence since 1994, died last week from injuries he sustained in an automobile accident. (Special Photo: Guy Welsh)

Richard Morris sits at an organ in Spivey Hall in this 2008 photograph. Morris, who was the concert facility’s organist-in-residence since 1994, died last week from injuries he sustained in an automobile accident. (Special Photo: Guy Welsh)

MORROW — Spivey Hall officials are mourning the loss of one of the artists who called the concert facility home.

Richard Morris, 71, died last week following injuries he sustained during an automobile accident near his Mableton home. He had been the organist-in-residence for Clayton State University’s Spivey Hall since 1994.

Sam Dixon, the facility’s executive director, said in an email Monday that Morris may have had a stroke while driving to church Sept. 8.

“He was conscious when he arrived at [WellStar] Kennestone Hospital in Marietta, but following surgery to reduce pressure in the brain, he required heavy sedation and remained in the intensive care unit,” said Dixon. “With the concurrence of those closest to him, life support was withdrawn on Thursday. He died a few hours later.”

Morris’ funeral will take place Saturday at 11 a.m. at St. Francis de Sales Catholic Church, 587 Landers Drive SW, in Mableton. It is the church where Morris played the organ, and where he was headed when he had his accident.

Dixon said friends and supporters are asked to make donations to the church’s choir in lieu of flowers.

Morris was an accomplished organist. He was a protege of concert organist Virgil Fox and, in addition to performing at Spivey Hall, Morris had also given performances at Carnegie Hall in New York City. Spivey Hall founder Emilie Spivey was one of his patrons.

The Spivey Hall website lists Morris as having “unparalleled knowledge” of the concert facility’s Fratelli Ruffatti pipe organ.

“We at Spivey Hall feel Richard’s loss profoundly,” said Dixon. “He was an extraordinary man and a greatly gifted musician. I will miss him very much.”

Morris had been scheduled to give a performance at Spivey Hall Feb. 1, 2014. Dixon said a memorial concert will now be held that day, featuring another of Fox’s students, Alan Morrison, the organ department chairman at the Curtis School of Music of Philadelphia.

In addition to their link through Fox, Morris and Morrison share another common bond in that Emilie Spivey was also a patron of Morrison.

Dixon said admission for the memorial concert will be free. However, he said tickets will be required and they will be available Sept. 23 at the Spivey Hall Box Office. Spivey Hall is on the Clayton State University campus in Morrow.

An online “tribute wall” has also been set up in the obituaries section of www.mayeswarddobbins.com so friends and supporters can write tributes in his memory.