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Great Circle’s Springfield campus is named in honor of philanthropist Jim D. Morris.
SBJ photo by Geoff Pickle
Great Circle’s Springfield campus is named in honor of philanthropist Jim D. Morris.

Jim D. Morris dies at 86

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Jim D. Morris, a longtime Springfield businessperson and philanthropist, died Jan. 9, according to his obituary posted to KlingnerFuneralHome.com. He was 86.

Morris retired in 2017 after selling Morris Oil Co. Inc. to Rapid Robert’s Inc. earlier that year. Morris experienced a "health scare" a couple of years prior to his retirement, a family attorney told Springfield Business Journal in August 2017.

With additional holdings in real estate, Morris used funds gained throughout his career toward charitable causes. The Arc of the Ozarks and Great Circle – previously Boys & Girls Town of Missouri – named their Springfield campuses in honor of Morris after receiving donations from him. Missouri State University's Jim D. Morris Center is among other properties that bear his name, and he provided early investments for Springfield children’s health, hunger and hygiene nonprofit Care to Learn.

“I have always had a desire to help and assist organizations that benefit the less fortunate, especially those that assist underprivileged children,” Morris said in 2011, when he was an honoree for SBJ's Men of the Year. “I want all children to have the opportunity to succeed.”

At its peak in the 1980s and ‘90s, Morris Oil operated 60 stores selling 50 million gallons annually. Rapid Robert's in 2017 purchased Morris Oil’s seven stations in Springfield, Nixa and Branson, according to past reporting.

Morris got into the oil business after starting out picking cotton and peaches in Missouri’s Bootheel. SBJ's 2008 Lifetime Achievement in Business honoree, Morris had a severe speech impediment until high school, one of the contributors to his emphasis on underprivileged children in his philanthropy work.

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