August 14, 1938, began the adventure of a lifetime for Morris Graber. Born in Freeman, SD, to Waldo and Annie Graber. Morey and his two brothers, Kermit and Loren, helped their parents on the family farm. But Morey was destined for another path. He left the farm, began his formal education at Freeman Junior College, and completed it at the University of South Dakota with a master’s in education.
While working himself through college as a tech at Yankton State Hospital, Morey met and fell in love with Judith Bundy, a young nurse who also worked there. The couple was married in August of 1962, and their oldest daughter Kelly was born in 1963. Morey was hired as a teacher with the Sioux City Public School system also in 1962 and two years later was the youngest person to be hired as an elementary school principal in the district. It was a good hire, and Morey worked for the next 43 years, serving the children and families at Franklin, McKinley, Bancroft, Crescent Park, Clark, and Riverside elementary schools. Whether it was fist bumps in the hallway or taking a child home to retrieve forgotten eyeglasses, Morey did his best to help children learn and feel cared for.
Over the years, Morey and Judy left Sioux City and moved out to Luton to a farm of their own, adding three more children: Jeff in 1965, Mark in 1970 and Jen in 1972. During these years, Morey was an active member of Sergeant Bluff Methodist Church, a wicked home-run hitter in the Sioux City fast pitch softball league, a Minors/Majors baseball coach, and a farmer. His children say they walked more beans and chased more pigs than they care to remember, but they learned to work hard and value education. Eventually, the couple moved off the farm to Sergeant Bluff; their children grew, married and started families of their own. It was in Sergeant Bluff that the “Reese’s Run,” was born. Morey and his 13 grandchildren headed to Mike’s Mini Mart with two rules, “don’t embarrass Grandpa,” and every grandchild leaves with candy.
After retiring, Morey and Judy moved out to McCook Lake, where Morey again let his green thumb go wild. Each year setting progressively higher goals, Morey’s last harvest was 1,650 lbs. of vegetables he donated to the Gospel Mission’s food bank. When he wasn’t in the garden or riding on his lawn mower, he volunteered at the Adams Nature Preserve. In the latter years of his life, Morey could be heard ending encounters with folks with the phrase “Keep Bouncing and Look Up,” which meant keep moving forward, come what may, and look up to heaven as you go.
Morey died surrounded by his family on June 6, 2022 at age 83; Morey and Judy would’ve celebrated their 60th wedding anniversary in August. Morey is leaving behind his wife Judy, their four children, 13 grandchildren, extended family, and many friends who are heartbroken they won’t be able to see him and share in a laugh or two but grateful that his health struggles are over.
Morey is survived by his wife Judith Graber; daughter Kelly and husband Craig McCauley of Lawrence, Kan., and their sons Seth, Keenan, and Addison; son Jeff and wife Rose Graber of Luton, Iowa and their children: Ben, his partner Crystal Sharp and Myles Sharp and son Lane; Mark and wife Debbie Graber of Red Oak, Iowa and their children Nikki, Dylan, Morgan, and Macy; and daughter Jen and her husband Erik Liebenthal, and their children Andrew and his wife Kota, Eden, Salem and Moriah and his two brothers Kermit and Loren Graber.
A funeral was held at the Sergeant Bluff United Methodist Church on Saturday, June 11.