Mr. Harry W. Morrison
Born February 23, 1885, near Kenney, Illinois, on his family's homestead by Salt Creek, his early life was a tough one. Shortly after losing his mother to pneumonia when he was only four, he contracted appendicitis. He survived, but only after a long convalescence. That was the summer when the Bates and Rogers construction company from Chicago came to build a railroad bridge over Salt Creek. The doctor suggested Harry be put outdoors in the sun and air, so his father made a cot out of an old spring wagon and put it in his grandfather's yard. Harry would spend the days watching the bustle of construction.
The job superintendent took notice of this young lad, befriending him. Later, when Harry was looking for work, the superintendent got him a job with Bates and Rogers, who moved him to Idaho. But always an ambitious young man, Harry wanted his own company. In 1912, he co-founded the Morrison-Kundsen Company with Morris Knudsen. Knudsen brought $600, some horses, and wheel barrows and Morrison brought "plenty of guts," which was his main selling point to Knudsen. Mr. Morrison had more than guts, however. His career was a study in loyalty and faith in the people he hired.
Morrison-Knudsen went on to build big things: dams bridges, tunnels, railroads, highways, pipelines, airports, military bases, space centers—an astounding inventory of structures on every continent of the globe. Admirals, kings, shahs, presidents, and business leaders all over the world trusted him to handle the largest, the most sensitive, and the most challenging construction jobs the world had ever seen. Mr. Morrison's many construction achievements garnered him the Time Magazine cover on May 3, 1954. They called him "the man who had done more than anyone else to change the face of the earth."
Ann Daly & Harry Morrison
Harry W. Morrison Foundation, Inc.
Harry W. Morrison
In May of 1952, Harry and his first wife, Ann, created what was then called the Harry W. Morrison Family Foundation as a means of supporting educational and charitable institutions. Funds went to churches and college buildings, scout camps, and to a wide variety of other community programs, mostly in Idaho, their home.
When Ann died in 1957, Harry Morrison, through the foundation, built Ann Morrison Memorial Park and dedicated it to the citizens of Boise, Idaho. Inspired by a lifelong love of music, Harry had also wanted to build a performing arts center in Boise. After his death in 1971, his second wife, Velma, who took over the management of the Foundation, fulfilled this dream. With a matching flagship donation from the Harry W. Morrison Foundation, she was able to inspire the community to build the Velma V. Morrison Center for the Performing Arts, which opened in 1984. In addition, the Harry W. Morrison Foundation was the initiator and major contributor to the Morrison Center Endowment Foundation used for supporting local arts.
Upon her death in 2013, Velma left a significant portion of her estate to the Harry W. Morrison Foundation. This has enabled the Foundation to double its giving capacity in subsequent years.
Velma V. Morrison
All pictures on this page are complements of Special Collections and Archives, Boise State University