- By Claire Osborn Round Rock Leader contributing writer
Friends and colleagues are remembering Williamson County Commissioner Ron Morrison as a hard-working and good-humored man who bravely battled prostate cancer and served his constituents well.
Morrison, 71, died Wednesday morning after a recurrence of the disease he had fought for more than a decade. Funeral arrangements are pending.
“There is a hole in Williamson County that will be very difficult to fill,” said County Commissioner Cynthia Long, a colleague who counted Morrison as a close family friend. “Ron always had an encouraging word and genuinely loved people,” Long said. “My daughter fondly referred to him as ‘Uncle Bubba.’ … He was a down-home guy who didn’t know a stranger. You couldn’t go anywhere with him where he didn’t run into someone he knew.”
Morrison was a Round Rock High School graduate, as well as a lifetime resident of Williamson and Milam counties. He also taught at Round Rock High and was later an instructor at Texas State University.
Williamson County Justice of the Peace Bill Gravell said Morrison was one of his teachers at Round Rock High in the 1970s. Gravell said that when he struggled with dyslexia in high school, Morrison “was the first person to tell me that I could do whatever I wanted to do.” He said Morrison helped him run for office in high school and also found him a part-time job in a cabinet shop.
Morrison and his wife of 50-plus years, Glenda, operated Morrison Auto in Round Rock for more than 25 years. One of his best friends, Keith Hagler, the owner of Taylor Auto Credit, said he met Morrison when they were both selling cars.
“He did the business the way you are supposed to do it — fair and honest,” said Hagler. “He was one of those guys who made us all look good.” Morrison was chosen as Round Rock’s Citizen of the Year in 2004.
He was first elected to office in 2006 and then won re-election in 2010 and 2014.
The Precinct 4 commissioner possessed an easy manner and a distinctive drawl, charming friends and disarming adversaries in the eastern Williamson County area he represented.
Former Fulkes Middle School teacher and former Hutto business owner Mahlon Arnett was, for a time, a frequent visitor to the Commissioners Court, where he and Morrison had ongoing disagreements about the county landfill, sometimes disparagingly known as “Mount Hutto.”
“We clashed over a lot of things,” Arnett recalled. “But Ron was a pretty upfront guy and a good guy to work with.”
Morrison’s accomplishments included improved roads for the county, as well as construction on the soon-to-open Expo Center in Taylor.
Williamson County Judge Dan Gattis will appoint a replacement who will hold the office until a new commissioner is elected in November 2017. Until recent weeks, Morrison always made it to the weekly Commissioners Court meetings – at first under his own power and then in a wheelchair.
“He had a quiet dignity and got a lot of work done,” Williamson County Republican Chairman Bill Fairbrother said. “An honest car salesman made it to heaven today.”
Funeral arrangements are pending.