Memorial Service set for attorney Steve Morrison

nophillips@thestate.comOctober 29, 2013 

Morrison

A memorial service will be held Thursday for Steve Morrison, a prominent Columbia attorney who died Sunday.

A visitation is planned for 6-8 p.m. Wednesday at New Chapel of Leevy’s Funeral Home, 1831 Taylor St. in Columbia. Thursday’s service will be held at 11 a.m. at Martin’s-in-the-Fields Episcopal Church, 5220 Clemson Ave. in Forest Acres. Leevy’s Funeral Home is in charge of arrangements.

Morrison, 64, was in New York for a Spoleto Festival USA board of directors meeting. He died at a hospital of natural causes, according to the New York City Chief Medical Examiner’s Office.

Morrison was a partner with the Nelson Mullins Riley & Scarborough law firm, where he was one of seven attorneys on the executive committee, the firm’s governing body.

He left his mark on Columbia and South Carolina through his bold stands for justice and racial equality, and through the money and time he gave to the arts and other community organizations.

Morrison was the lead litigator in the landmark school-funding lawsuit brought two decades ago by rural school districts against South Carolina, claiming that the state did not give them adequate funding.

He also was the only white leader to speak during a 2000 NAACP rally against the Confederate flag on the State House grounds.

“I agreed to do it because the symbolism of the flag is bad for us,” he told The State newspaper in 2010. “It divides us. It hurts us economically. It fractures us as a community.”

Tributes continued to flow throughout Columbia for Morrison.

Shani Gilchrist, who served as co-chair for the One Columbia Arts and History program, said Morrison’s passing was a tremendous loss for the city.

“Steve always was an inspiration, whether speaking in the courtroom, the board room or over a lively dinner,” Gilchrist said. “His love for his community was imparted through every conversation, an action-oriented passion that taught many of us what it really means to be a community servant.”

Dozens of people wrote messages on Morrison’s Facebook page, where they used words such as “brilliant,” “compassionate” and “caring” to describe what he meant to them.

His longtime assistant Carol Plexico wrote that Morrison was “a true champion for the arts, historic preservation, education and the legal rights of so many who were less fortunate.”

Staff writer Cassie Cope contributed.

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