May 02, 2016 10:30AM
When Joe Morris picks up his diploma next week, he’ll also receive the title to a 1963 FLH Duo-Glide Harley Davidson with a 74-inch, 1,200-cc engine. More than getting perhaps one of the coolest graduation gifts ever, Morris will be getting a piece of his family legacy.
Joe Morris is among about 1,200 students eligible to participate Pittsburg State University’s four commencement exercises on May 6-7. He will receive a bachelor’s of science degree from the Irene Ransom Bradley School of Nursing.
Joe’s unique gift actually had its genesis when he was born.
“Actually, it was my wife’s idea,” said Scott Morris, Joe’s father, who had acquired the ’63 Harley to restore.
Joe’s mother, Patricia, thought it would be meaningful for Scott to pass along a restored vintage bike that was manufactured in a year that ended in the same digit as Joe’s birth year.
Patricia said the idea was to represent how much her husband loved both his sons and motorcycles.
“We thought it could be something they could enjoy and possibly pass on to their son or daughter,” Patricia said.
Scott Morris said his love of motorcycles and especially Harley Davidson motorcycles began when he was a student in PSU’s Automotive Technology Program.
“When I was in college, I bought a Harley Sportster and I sort of dabbled in them from then on,” Scott said.
After college, Scott went to work for the American Motors Corporation. From his base in Billings, Mont., he traveled all across the northwest.
“When I traveled, I’d pick up motorcycle parts wherever I went,” Scott said. “I’d talk to people in dealerships who rode Harleys to work and they’d tell me about somebody and I would go and look these people up in the evenings after work. One lead led to another.”
His big score was in Sturgis, S.D.
“There was a guy there named Maynard Rude,” Scott said. “He had just closed his independent Harley Davidson repair shop. He just closed it, walked out, locked the doors and went to doing ranching. I went there and talked to him and I ended up buying all of his old shop.”
When Chrysler bought American Motors, Scott was laid off and moved back home.
“I started doing the motorcycle thing more for necessity than anything and it just slowly grew into what it is now,” said Scott.
His company, Morris Sales Company, specializes in Harley Davidsons, but they work on almost any motorcycles.
Joe said he’s excited about the gift and especially what it represents, but he has some work to do before he can hop on and ride off.
“I still have to take the motorcycle safety course,” he laughed. “I was going to take it over Christmas break, but it got too cold.”
Meanwhile, back in Scott Morris’s shop in Chanute, there’s a 1954 Harley FL with John Morris’s name on it. John, Joe’s younger brother, is also a nursing major and he’s set to graduate in May 2017.
“It’s not quite done,” Scott said. “I’ve got to hurry!”
Below: Joe Morris tries out the vintage Harley Davidson that is both his graduation gift and a family legacy. With him are his parents, Patricia and Scott Morris, left, and brother, John, who will receive his own vintage bike when he graduates next spring.