Lela Duffel Morris, '49, the first African-American student and graduate of the BSN program, passed peacefully in her home on February 1. Morris served as a public health nurse for more than 50 years and devoted her career to workplace health issues. In 2001, she received the School of Nursing's Distinguished Alumna Award.
Morris initiated several conferences on occupational diseases and injuries among minority workers. She also served as guest editor of two issues of the American Association of Occupational Health Nurses Journal. In 1999 she recalled that this was "particularly important … because it brought attention to an issue that had been ignored far too long and that could be effectively addressed on a national basis."
Morris served as the founding director of continuing education for the Northern California Occupational Health Center, a division of the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health.
Morris is survived by her husband Walter, her children and grandchildren. A memorial service was held at Taylor Memorial United Methodist Church on February 11. The family requests, in lieu of flowers, donations be made to the Downs Memorial United Methodist Church Scholarship Fund, 6026 Idaho Street, Oakland, CA 94608.
Lela Duffel Morris Receives Distinguished Alumna Honors
Career of first African-American graduate spans 50 years