Commander (ret.) Irving “Irv” Edwin Morrill, 98, of Port Orange, Fla., and Benedict, Minn., retired naval aviator in WWII and the Korean Conflict, passed away Sunday, May 5, 2019.
A memorial service will take place at Lohman’s Funeral Home in Port Orange at 2 p.m. June 8. Interment will be in Lakeport Cemetery in Laporte, Minn.
Irv is predeceased in death by his wife, Peggy; brothers Dana B. Morrill and William Morrill; and sister Lorna Gardlin.
He is survived by his sister Gladys “Honey” Scott of Bemidji, with whom he shared long, heartwarming talks within the last few years; and was the loving father of Michael, Patricia, Roberta and Shawn; adoring grandfather of Marissa, Shawn, Nikki, Jesse, and Faith; and devoted great-grandfather to Reese and Koen.
Irv was the oldest of five children of Robert and Gladys Morril, born on the first day of spring, March 20, 1921. The family lived in a modest home in the woods almost 7 miles from town. He fondly described his years growing up on the farm with his siblings as “the happiest and healthiest” they could be.
Irv walked 3 miles to take a bus to Laporte High School where he graduated in 1937 as the class salutatorian. He joined the Civilian Conservation Corps in 1938, planting trees and drafting topography maps in the day and teaching himself Morse code and typing at night.
Two years later, in 1940, Irv completed Citizens Military Training Camp at Fort Snelling. A West Point appointment was extended to him, but he declined in hopes of receiving an Annapolis invitation.
Irv was offered Army Air Corps Pilot Training in May 1942, but returned to Minnesota and joined the Navy’s V-5 Cadet Program. He was called for active duty in January, 1943.
Irv graduated top of his class in the Mankato Ground School and Flight Training. As an Ensign, he continued his training in Pensacola and Jacksonville, Fla., in April 1944.
In January 1945, Ensign Morrill was assigned to Attu Island in the Aleutians, as co-pilot/navigator on PBY Patrol under the command of Lt. Ira Rowell. Irving described the Aleutian harrowing winds as being more fierce an enemy that the Japanese military. He often recalled a rare sunny day on Attu when Lt. Rowell placed a cardboard sleeve over the cockpit window, claiming, “This might save your life someday.”
The VP-139 squadron was engaged in the Empire Express search and bombing missions to the northern Kurite Islands of Japan.
In March 1948, he returned to the University of Minnesota to finish his bachelor’s degree, while he remained in the Naval Reserve.
His Naval Patrol Squadron, VP-812, was the first to be recalled to active duty July 20, 1950. Their duty commenced at the NAS, Kodiak, Alaska, in January 1951.
Following the end of the Korean Conflict, Irv remained in the Naval Reserves and was the commanding officer of VP-833 at the Naval Air Station, Floyd Bennett Field, N.Y. He made the last landing at dusk in a P2V airplane and the station was closed.
Irv then was sent for training to the Office of Naval Intelligence at the Pentagon in 1952; becoming a Russian Intelligence specialist. It was there where he met Lt. Margaret “Peggy” Carroll, administrative assistant to the secretary of the Naval Air Command. They married at Moffett Field, Mountain View, Calif., in September 1954. Irv was then assigned to the nascent space program in Cape Canaveral Fla., as an operations manager for the PAA Guided Missile Range Division. In 1956, he returned to civilian life, but remained in the Naval Reserves until his retirement as commander in 1968.
In 1957, Irv became a Flight Check Pilot specialist for the CAA/FAA. He brought his family to Cairo, Egypt, in 1962, on assignment to the U.S. State Department, where they lived for almost two years. Upon returning to the states, the family settled on Long Island, N.Y.
Irv traveled extensively as an Aviation Operations specialist overseas. He particularly enjoyed working in Brussels, London, Frankfurt, Beirut and Tokyo.
He earned an MBA from Adelphi University, Garden City, N.Y., in 1973. After his day shift at the FAA facility at JFK Airport, he administered and lectured in a business program at Adelphi from 1973 through 1979.
Irv became the U.S. Representative for the FAA at the International Civil Aviation Organization in Montreal in January 1980. Later that year, he accepted an assistant professorship at Embry-Riddle University in Daytona Beach, Fla., teaching aviation safety and other business courses from 1980 through 1986.
Irv always took an active interest in the civic life of his community. He was a member of the VFW lodges in Benedict and Walker since 1944, and also Post 3282, Port Orange. He belonged to the Masonic Lodge since 1951 and the Elks since 1986.
Irv founded a local chapter of AARP in 1986 and served as president five times. He joined NARFE in 1982 and also served as area chapter president from 2001-2004. Irv volunteered for the Volusia County Literacy Council tutoring others in English and math since 1985. He was also a past member of the Civil Service Board for the City of Port Orange.
Irv was proudest of his terms as senator and area chairman of the Silver-Haired Legislature, which he joined in 1984.
Irv was a versatile man who enjoyed both academia and sports. He was an avid reader of classic literature and had authored novels of his own. Irv often wrote whimsical poems for family members on their birthdays.
His letters to the editor were published many times in the Daytona Beach New Journal, in addition to the newspapers in his former communities. Irv excelled at playing bridge. He was an ardent woodsman, returning many times to the thrill of fishing and hunting in the lakes and woods of his beloved Minnesota homeland. He was also an accomplished tennis player, skier, ice skater and squash player.
Throughout his military career, Irv played and coached baseball and softball. He and Peggy spent their summers in their home on Kabekona Bay near Benedict. He planted vegetable gardens and fields of raspberries, a favorite delight of the summer tourists. He was an enthusiastic collector of coins and antiques. More recently, Irv became a regular attendant at great-granddaughter Reese’s softball games and great-grandson Koen’s (drummer) school concerts and soccer games.
Irv was an exceptionally accomplished and driven man whose boundless stamina, ingenuity, integrity, courage and keen wit engaged everyone in his presence. He was extremely generous and demonstrated benevolence to all.