A Life Lived: Ronnie Morton always had a song despite his heartaches, struggles

Published 12:43 pm Tuesday, September 12, 2023

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Ronnie Gene Morton died just three days shy of his 77th birthday. Inside his Bible is the handwritten thought: “The Lord may not come when you expect him to, but He’s always on time.”
Ronnie died Sept. 2 after a long battle with Parkinson’s disease and a stay in the nursing home. Yet, he achieved much in those almost 77 years. A United States Air Force veteran, Ronnie served during the Vietnam War era. After his military career, he moved his family to Richmond, Va., where Ronnie worked for a time with Clinchfield Railroad. However, the family eventually moved back to Elizabethton and he went back to school at East Tennessee State University, earning a degree in education.
Ronnie’s first teaching job was at T.A. Dugger Junior High School, however, he eventually became the technology coordinator for the Elizabethton City Schools. “He enjoyed working with all students, but especially junior high students. He took them to state competitions and did a lot of photography with them, teaching them how to develop film. He was a very smart and innovative person,” said his wife, Lucelia.
Even after he retired from teaching Ronnie worked with the state curriculum group in technology in Knoxville. He worked for five years with them and according to Lucelia, loved it.
Ronnie and his wife were the parents of two daughters, Kristie, who has four sons, and Teresa Jeanine, who had cerebral palsy and preceded her father in death. “He loved his daughters, his grandsons, and four great-grandchildren. They were a big part of his life,” said Lucelia.
In addition to teaching, Ronnie enjoyed singing, and was part of a quartet for a long time. “He enjoyed Southern Gospel, and among his favorite songs were ‘In the Garden’ and ‘Beulah Land,’ both of which were sung at his funeral. The quartet was a fun-loving group, who loved the Lord and loved to sing about him,” shared Lucelia.
She also noted that Ronnie loved his church and constantly read and studied the Scriptures. He also enjoyed genealogy. However, his love for the scriptures and learning new things in the Bible was number one with him, his wife said.
Ronnie was a member of Hampton Christian Church, but attended Roan Mountain United Methodist Church. “He was a person that loved all Christians regardless of the church they attended, and wasn’t much for denominations. He had Christian friends in all churches,” Lucelia said.
He continued to sing even after he went to the nursing home. “His cousin ended up in the room with him and just a couple of weeks before he died, they were in the room singing ‘Proud Mary’ and the staff was singing with them. He was a hoot at times,” his wife noted.
“Ronnie loved his family, loved the Lord, his church. He really loved life in general. He was a lifelong student,” Lucelia added.
Ronnie grew up in the Gap Creek community, the son of the late William Henry and Ruth Morton. In addition to his wife and daughter and her family, he leaves behind two sisters, Brenda Hart and Debbie Miller.
Ronnie Gene Morton achieved much in his lifetime and touched many lives, even when he was in the nursing home. “Parkinson’s is a cruel disease and Ronnie struggled with it for 20 years. But, he made the most of it. He was an upbeat person most of the time and lived as if it was his last day,” Lucelia shared.
No doubt, Ronnie Morton would tell you he was a blessed person despite his struggles with Parkinson’s disease and the loss of a young daughter to cerebral palsy. He gave to life all that he had and made the days count.

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