Lela Duffel Morris '49, whose contributions to occupational health as a public health nurse span more than 50 years, was honored with the 2001 Distinguished Alumna Award at the annual Friends of Nursing Dinner sponsored by the UW School of Nursing and the Alumni Advisory Council.
MorrisSpeaking before fellow nursing alumni, other friends of nursing and two tables of family members, many of them also UW graduates, Morris talked about her days as a UW nursing student living in Harborview Hall and her decision to commit herself to "serving her community" through nursing. Beginning as a public health nurse in the District of Columbia, Morris eventually became interested in the plight of workers exposed to hazards in the workplace and decided to devote her career to occupational and environmental health issues. After receiving a master's in public health from UC Berkeley, she held many positions in both the public and private sector recruiting and training other health professionals in workplace health issues. Morris was the founding director of continuing education for the Northern California Occupational Health Center, a division of the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health.
Other awards received over the years included special recognitions from the Northern California Public Health Association, the American Lung Association, the Golden State Medical Association and the American Cancer Society.
In her talk entitled "Nursing and Beyond," Morris revealed a career which also included teaching college health education courses and serving as guest editor of the American Association of Occupational Health Nurses Journal. In addition to these and many other achievements spanning over half a century, Morris is distinguished by being the first African-American graduate of the BSN program at the University of Washington.
This 23rd annual alumni event attracted a record number of attendees, including members of the Mary Mahoney Professional Nurses Association, and many friends and colleagues of the honored alumna.
CREDIT: Lela Duffel Morris, center, with her husband, Walter H. Morris, M.D., second from right, and some of the many other family members in attendance at the Friends of Nursing Dinner where she was presented with the 2001 Alumna of the Year Award.