Obituary Listings

Owen Morton

September 15, 1938 April 25, 2019
Owen Morton
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Obituary for Owen Morton

DURHAM: Owen Davis Morton, 80, passed away on Thursday, April 25, 2019 at his home in Durham. Four score and seven months ago, Owen was born in Wake Forest, NC to the late Zebulon Vance Morton and Ava Estelle Davis Morton. He was predeceased by two older brothers, Oris Morton and Roger Morton; an infant sister, Ava Claris Morton; and a daughter-in-law, Sarah Maulden Morton.

Owen was raised in the old Golden Belt Mill neighborhood in Durham, an area that he remembered fondly his entire life. Over the 2018 Christmas holidays, he drove through his old stomping grounds, reminiscing with his oldest son, Rick, about his childhood memories. One of our Dad’s favorite places on the planet was the Old Durham Athletic Park, where he would stand outside waiting for a foul ball, which would gain him free entry to a Bulls game in the 1940s. When he grew a bit older, he sold drinks at the ‘DAP’. Dad also recently visited the Downtown Durham Museum with his younger son, Jody. We all joked that Dad probably knew more Durham history than any curator could possibly know.

In between, our beloved husband, father, and grandfather enjoyed a full life. Daddy used to say with a smile in his eyes, “I wouldn’t trade my childhood on the old mill hill with anyone.” In 1957, he met the love of his life, Judy Bynum, who would eventually become his wife in 1962. Together, they raised two sons, Ricky and Jody, who could not have been blessed with better parents. While our Mom suffered with crippling rheumatoid arthritis for the past five decades, Dad worked every day without complaining, never taking a sick day. Despite all the challenges they faced, neither son ever had to worry about breakfast (Mama would cook wrapped in bandages and slings). Our lunches were always packed and most amazingly of all, neither boy ever had to wait in the dark to catch a school bus. They ALWAYS put us first, no matter the cost. Looking back, it still amazes me how our parents took us to the beach every summer, despite limited resources. Dad would always hand over his check to our Mom to handle the finances – the Ultimate Trust in a relationship to me. And Mama, thank you for being the Budget Guru who magically made everything always work out.

Jody and I will always treasure the memories of growing up on Berkeley Street. There were year-round seasons in that small, loving home. No, not the weather – sports seasons. As small boys, we’d run out of the house to greet our Daddy when he got home from a tiring day at work to see who could win the contest of “First Kiss”. And those kisses on our Pop’s cheeks continued until the very end. While our Mom prepared supper through all her physical pain, Dad would pitch Wiffle ball to us in the front yard. Across the street was Mr, Slaughter’s house, who conveniently had a cinderblock wall that served perfectly as our home run fence at Morton Front Yard Stadium. Next door was the Brown Family, where Margaret and James were like our aunt and uncle. No one ever complained about the Morton boys running through their yards with the football, or as the basketball dribbled way out of bounds and into their flowers or tomato plants. And our Daddy was always playing with us, as he loved his sons until his last breath. Daddy even forgave us for tearing up the yard with a makeshift Putt Putt course, constructed out of an old croquet set the Browns gave us when their daughters, Janice and Joanne got married and left home. I’m sorry you stepped in one of those holes and twisted your ankle when cutting the grass, Pop.

After retiring the month after his 62nd birthday in 2000, Owen and Judy enjoyed nearly two decades of their Golden Years together. One of Daddy’s favorite memories was a trip out West in 2003, where his childhood friend, Donald Moore from the Old Mill Hill neighborhood showed our parents a wonderful time. Dad talked about the wondrous canyons and the views of the mountains at sunrise. So thank you, Mr. Moore.

Oh and how Papa and Nana loved their four granddaughters. Dad was so proud that Caroline was graduating from East Carolina next weekend before going on to graduate school. In addition, he was equally proud of Emma for her upcoming graduation from high school, before heading off to UNC-Charlotte in the Fall. Papa also enjoyed talking to Avery about her fishing contests. And the baby of the family, Claire Davis Morton, shares her Papa’s middle name. Girls, please know that Papa was so proud of all of you, and he’d want you to cherish the memories of the times you spent together.

And these memories would not be complete without mentioning our surviving Aunt Rosalene and our “adopted” Aunt & Uncle Valinda and Herschel Turnage. You were all true friends to our family, and we all love you. Daddy always said if there was one person on Earth who would do you a favor no matter what, it was Herschel Turnage.

On his last day on Earth, Owen had breakfast with his wife, Judy, at Chick Fil A. Loyal to our Mother until the end, he then drove her to a doctor’s appointment. But instead of going ahead to Southwinds Health & Wellness Center for his faithful one mile, four-days-a-week walks on the treadmill, he elected to stay during her rheumatoid arthritis infusion and talked with his son for an hour about his favorite team from childhood – the New York Yankees. Why did he stay? “Your Mama wants to go with me to work out.” And she did.

And on our beloved Papa Owen’s last day, he proudly wore a New York Yankees t-shirt. Dad always said, “If you wear anything with the Yankees logo on it, it’s always a conversation starter, whether good or bad.” So I (Rick) asked my Dad last night if anyone commented on his t-shirt yesterday and he smiled and said, “Yeah, an old man at Chick Fil A asked me if I was from New York. I told him, ‘No, but the Yankees were always my team’.” And Daddy, we hope you have the best view of the Yankees now from your box seat in Heaven.

Mr. Morton is survived by his wife of 57 years and the love of his life, Judith Bynum Morton; sons, Richard “Ricky” Owen Morton, and Jody Wayne Morton (Carly); and four grandchildren, Caroline Morton, Emma Morton, Claire Davis Morton, and Avery Doughty. In addition, there were many surviving nieces and nephews who Papa Owen loved. Special mentions to Jimmy and Tommy Morton, who had a great visit with our Dad just a few weeks ago; and to Charlie and Kim Carden, who also enjoyed a final visit with our Dad in the past month.

The family will receive friends from 6 to 8 p.m. on Sunday, April 28th at Clements Funeral Home in Durham. A funeral service will be held at 11 a.m. on Monday, April 29th at West Durham Pentecostal Church with Rev. T. Gregory Long officiating. Burial will follow in Oak Grove Memorial Gardens.

Flowers are acceptable or a donation to the West Durham Pentecostal Church would be appreciated. Papa Owen also had a special place in his heart for charities in support of terminally ill children.

The family is being assisted by Clements Funeral and Cremation Services, Inc. in Durham. Online condolences may be sent to

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Previous Events





6:00 PM 4/28/2019 6:00:00 PM - 8:00 PM 4/28/2019 8:00:00 PM
Clements Funeral Home

1105 Broad St.
Durham, NC 27705

Clements Funeral Home
1105 Broad St. Durham 27705 NC
United States

Funeral Service




11:00 AM 4/29/2019 11:00:00 AM
West Durham Pentecostal Holiness Church

901 Alabama Ave
Durham, NC 27705

West Durham Pentecostal Holiness Church
901 Alabama Ave Durham 27705 NC
United States

Cemetery Details


Oak Grove Memorial Gardens Final Resting Place

3712 Cheek Road
Durham, NC 27704

3712 Cheek Road Durham 27704 NC
United States

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