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WSC Horticulture Alumnus Said Congress Was “Side-Trip”

Posted by cahnrs.webteam | May 15, 2010

The middle son born between an MIT graduate and a top-gun Navy jet fighter pilot, Sid Morrison felt he had to try harder.

Morrison grew up on a fruit farm in Zillah, Wash. where he worked in the orchards and piqued his interest in horticulture. After graduating high school, he decided to attend Washington State College in 1951 after one year at Yakima Valley College. WSC, he said, was natural for him because of his intended major, loyal Coug parents and a number of Pullman-bound friends.

There, Morrison found himself genuinely attracted to leadership roles in student government, his fraternity, Tau Kappa Epsilon, and music. Balancing student activities and academics challenged him, he said.

Likewise, Morrison described the camaraderie of his fraternity, pleasant learning relationships with horticulture faculty, and choir tours as some of his fondest WSC memories.

Morrison earned his Bachelor of Science in horticulture from Washington State College in 1954 and served two years in the U.S. Army before he married his high school sweet heart and began his career as Morrison Fruit Company’s chief executive officer.

“My life on the farm was an extension of the classroom at WSC,” Morrison said. “I brought the latest in technology and know-how and combined it with some great local Extension Service support.” Morrison said he combined farm work and networking to find leadership roles in the industry. “The Apple Commission, Peach Council, Cherry Institute, national USDA Agriculture Research Advisory Committee,” Morrison listed. Each involvement led to more opportunities in public service.

As a member of the Washington Legislature from 1966 to 1980, Morrison represented the Zillah area in Olympia, Wash. in the House of Representatives for eight years and as state senator for six.

In 1980, Morrison was elected 4th District Representative to the U.S. Congress and served six Congressional terms before he was appointed Washington Secretary of Transportation in 1993. The 4th District is the largest congressional district in the state, covering all of central Washington and nine counties.

“My WSC education and experience gave me confidence in my ability to speak and write,” Morrison said of the skills he valued during office. His knowledge of agriculture and how products move to market helped him meet challenges as Secretary of Transportation, he said.

Although he has had an outstanding political career, Morrison said his “official” occupation has always been as a fruit and grape grower. “The political side trips,” he said, “were part-time at a state level and then full-time in Washington, D.C.”.

Lorie Dankers, WSU Alumni Information Network chairperson, nominated Morrison in 2006 for WSU’s Alumni Achievement award.

“For many residents of Eastern Washington, Sid Morrison defines public service,” Dankers wrote.

Morrison was recognized as a consensus-builder during his Congressional career, Dankers said, when he served on the U.S. House of Representatives’ Science and Technology Committee and its Energy Subcommittee, as well as the first chair of the state’s Joint Committee on Nuclear Energy while in the Washington Legislature.

Morrison retired in 2001 and is a member of the Energy Northwest Executive Board which provides policy oversight for the public power agency based in Richland, Wash.

“Being a Coug,” Morrison said, “means much more than just an attachment to a place of learning and fond memories. It means friendships and loyalties that transcend time, and that establish a network of communication and opportunity. Everyone likes to be part of a team, and I find that the Cougar spirit does not fade, and is renewed by each succeeding generation.”

Katie Floyd, CAHNRS and WSU Extension Marketing, News, and Educational Communications Intern