Winston Vaughan Morrow Jr.
March 22, 1924 to March 5, 2019
Winston Vaughan Morrow Jr., beloved by family and friends, and admired for his many successes as a business executive on the east coast and west, died on March 5, 2019 peacefully and at home with family. He was 94.
Mr. Morrow, a seasonal resident and homeowner in Freedom, NH, for almost 60 years, was a man of many gifts, especially in family feeling and friendship. He was a loving husband, was especially devoted to his two sons, to the daughter of his second wife, and to his grandchildren; they all loved and admired him intensely and basked in his affection.
Known from childhood by the nickname “Bud,” Mr. Morrow was a voracious reader and a retentive student of history. He was a devoted tennis player who never lost his zest for the game, even as he never really found his backhand. He had a knack for cards and kept up a running gin rummy game over the decades with his beloved older brother Tom and then with his younger son, Mark, and grandson, Will. He enjoyed hunting, not so much for getting the deer or the bird – he rarely got either – but for the chance to tramp through the woods with his older son, Tom. He had tremendous vigor, incisive intelligence, and never quailed at making decisions. His favorite of many mottos spoke to his outlook on life and leadership: “Assume nothing” and “Do it now.” He had buttons and desk ornaments made to display them and made sure his sons and other family members were always well supplied.
The son of Winston V. Morrow and Selma C. Morrow, Mr. Morrow was born in Grand Rapids, Michigan in 1924 and grew up in Buffalo, New York, attending Bennett High School where he won honors in the classroom and on the playing field. He attended Williams College where he pledged to Kappa Alpha, majored in history, and graduated Phi Beta Kappa. His college years were interrupted by war. He entered the Army in 1942 when he turned 18 and served in the Army Medical Corps in the European Theater.
Mr. Morrow graduated from Williams in 1947, and went on to Harvard Law School, graduating in 1950. He then joined the law firm of Edwards & Angell in Providence, RI. With his trademark willingness to take a chance and take on new opportunities, he left the firm to take a job with Avis Rent-a-Car, a then-struggling family-owned firm based in Boston as Vice President and General Counsel. After leaving the company briefly during its restructuring and relocation to New York, he re-joined Avis as a key player on the management team. Soon promoted to chief executive, he led Avis’s resurgence, building its domestic and overseas presence, capitalizing on its underdog market position with the winning slogan, “We try Harder.”
In 1948, he married Margaret “Peggy” Staples, an elementary school teacher. The couple had two sons: Thomas, a gifted gunsmith and storyteller who died in 2017 after a battle of many years with multiple sclerosis, and Mark, a senior editor at The Boston Globe, and four beloved grandchildren: Thomas, Winston, and Elizabeth who died in infancy (children of his older son Tom), and William Winston, son of Mark and his wife Kathleen Hirsch.
In 1990 Mr. Morrow married Edith Ulrich in Los Angeles, the city where he lived and worked for last four decades of his life. She brought to the marriage a young daughter Amy whom he loved and helped raise. Amy, a voice over artist, married Matthew Dichter; their daughter, Charlotte, whom Mr. Morrow called “Charlie”, was cherished by him as his fifth grandchild.
Beyond his wife, son, and grandchildren, Mr. Morrow is survived by nine great grandchildren.
Mr. Morrow’s managerial talents were evident in every position he held over the years. He went from running Avis, a global rental car company, to Teleflora, a floral delivery company, to Ticor, a leading title insurance firm based in Los Angeles. To each, he brought distinction, lofty ambition, a wry sense of humor, and brio for business battles. To say he was a quick study in what makes an organization work, and an executive team pull together, is to radically understate his ability.
His leadership acumen and reputation also led him into many volunteer roles and corporate boards, from the board of Adelphi University in New York, to the Police Foundation in Washington DC, a law enforcement think tank, the LA Chamber of Commerce, AECOM Board, and the Spring Street Foundation in Los Angeles.
He delighted in good company, all forms of competition, and smart conversation. His network of friends and acquaintance was sprawling, from the grade school teacher he never lost touch with, to childhood and college pals, to his business and tennis partners. Those relationships were zealously sustained by him with timely mailings and calls, and, whenever his far-flung travels brought him close, with visits.
An East Coast Memorial and burial service will take place at 2 p.m. on July 28 at the First Christian Church in Freedom. A West Coast gathering of close family and friends will be held in June.
In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, The Library Foundation of Los Angeles and Cedars Sinai Foundation in Los Angeles.
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