West St. Rt. 55 dedicated in honor of Deputy Sgt. William R. Morris


By Sheryl Roadcap

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TROY — A portion of state Route 55, from the Troy corporation limits west to state Route 48, is now officially Sheriff Sgt. William “Bill” Morris Memorial Highway.

The Ohio General Assembly recently passed legislation brought forth by State Sen. Steve Huffman, R-Tipp City, and was recently signed by Gov. Mike DeWine dedicating that portion of state Route 55 to honor Morris, who lost his life in the line of duty on Nov. 22, 1972.

On the morning of Thursday, July 27, Morris’ family and friends, various member of law enforcement, Huffman and the media gathered at Troy Church of the Nazarene for a dedication ceremony after an earlier morning gathering to unveil the new highway sign erected on west state Route 55.

“I know this day has been a long time coming,” said Miami County Sheriff Dave Duchak when opening the ceremony in the church sanctuary and also thanking everyone present for coming, along with the Troy Church of the Nazarene for hosting the event. Duchak credited Retired Deputy Billie J. Ray, of the Miami County Sheriff’s Office, and Huffman for making the highway dedication possible.

Huffman spoke saying although he was 8 years old on that tragic night before Thanksgiving, and never met Morris, his father, Robert Huffman, who was the county prosecutor, was a friend of Morris was one of the first on the scene. His father occasionally spoke about Morris and his story. Huffman said it was very difficult on the community and the Morris family, as well as his family.

Ray, who was the keynote speaker for ceremony, addressed the audience next. He spoke highly of Morris as a mentor, of his character, his leadership, and of the great deputy sergeant he was. Ray shared of meeting Morris as a young man not old enough yet to apply to the sheriff’s office, and said Morris remembered Ray’s interest, so when he was 21, Morris prompted Ray to apply to the Miami County Sheriff’s Office when an opening became available.

“Bill was a dedicated officer, caring person. He cared about people. When he was not at home, he was at the sheriff’s office because he was a dedicated officer,” Ray said. “I can’t tell you how much of a pleasure it was to serve with Bill for the three years we worked together. He taught me a lot.”

Ray was the third officer on the scene the day Morris was fatally shot in the line of duty. He detailed the events that unfolded prior to officers arriving on the scene to assist Morris, saying it was difficult for him to relay those tragic events. He concluded his comments with the “Deputy’s Prayer.”

Jay Morris, the grandson of William Morris, spoke to express gratitude for the service of law enforcement officers and to Ray for his continued support of his family and being an advoacte for his grandfather, and as well as to Huffman for supporting the highway dedicatin.

A light lunch was served at the Church of the Nazarene for those attending immediately follow the dedication of the ceremony, courtesy of the Miami County F.O.P. Lodge No. 58.

“The Miami County Sheriff’s Office, along with the family of Sgt. Morris, would like to thank Sen. Steve Huffman for his introduction of legislation dedicating West state Route 55 in honor and memory of Sgt. Morris,” said Duchak in a press release prior to the event. “Special thanks as well to the Ohio Department of Transportation and their team members for production and placement of the signs.”

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