June 2nd marks the birthday of one of Red Deer’s most distinguished public servants, volunteers and philanthropists, Morris Flewwelling. There are few aspects of our community that have not been directly touched by this very active, energetic and creative individual.
F. Morris Flewwelling was born in 1941 and grew up in the village of Mirror, north east of Red Deer.
Shortly after he was born, Morris’ dad, Ross, left to work on the Alaska Highway. Ross then served overseas with the Canadian Army. More than four years would pass before Morris and his mother Marjory were finally reunited with his dad.
As a child, Morris took a very strong interest in libraries, culture and gardening. He decided to make education his career.
He graduated from the University of Alberta in 1964 with a Bachelor of Education degree, majoring in the biological sciences and minoring in history.
He first got a job as a teacher at Alix, but later moved into Red Deer. He furthered his education with post-graduate studies. He subsequently became a guidance counsellor and special education teacher. In 1968, he started the first alternate school program in Alberta for teenager students who found traditional classrooms a challenge.
The year 1968 is also the year Morris married Hazel Waldburger, a fellow teacher and also a dynamic community volunteer. Morris and Hazel are the proud parents of two sons – Michael and David.
Morris became very active in an enormous number of groups, organizations and projects. Some of the first were the Red Deer Allied Arts Council, Central Alberta Theatre, the United Way, the Christmas Bureau, Red Deer Community Band Society, the Red Deer Recreation Board and the University of Alberta Alumni Association.
In 1974, Morris successfully ran for City council. This increased his community involvements with such organizations as the Red Deer Public Library, Red Deer Archives, and Red Deer Museum.
Subsequently, Morris left the City council and the Red Deer Public School District and became the executor director of the Red Deer and District Museum (1978). During his tenure and as a result of his hard work and skill, the Red Deer Museum was named the model institution of its size in Canada.
Morris’s community, regional, provincial and national involvements became a virtual torrent of activity.
He was a founding director of the Alberta Historical Resources Foundation. He served as president of both the Alberta Museums Association and the Canadian Museums Association. He was a director of Nature Canada, founding director of the Waskasoo Museum Foundation, a Governor of Heritage Canada, founding chair of the Heritage Community Foundation, founding chair of Ellis Bird Farm, co-founder of the Central Alberta Historical Society and chair of the Red Deer College Fine and Performing Arts Centre Development Committee.
One of his proudest accomplishments was being the founder and first chair of the Red Deer Community Foundation. The Community Foundation now is the leading philanthropic organization in Red Deer.
As he retired from the Red Deer Museum, Morris successfully ran for City council again. He was a councillor for nine years. He then was elected as mayor three times in a row (2004, 2007 and 2010).
Morris has received a vast number of awards and distinctions including Citizen of the Year (1982), Alberta Achievement Award (1991), Canada 125 Medal (1992), Queen’s Golden Jubilee Medal (2003), Alberta Centennial Medal (2005), Honorary Bachelor of Arts Degree in Interdisciplinary Studies from Red Deer College (2014) and the Alberta Order of Excellence (2014).
In 1997, he received Canada’s highest civilian honour when he was named to the Order of Canada. However, Morris is particularly proud of being named Chief Mountain Eagle (2012) by the Cree First Nation for his work with First Nations across Canada.