OKLAHOMA CITY – Robert Joseph Morrissette, the father of state Rep. Richard Morrissette, D-Oklahoma City, died peacefully in his sleep Tuesday (April 19) at his home in Somersworth, New Hampshire, after a lengthy illness.
“I was with him on March 13 when he celebrated his 93rd birthday,” Rep. Morrissette said. “I knew no other home while growing up, other than our small wood-frame house where my family of six lived,” he added.
“Dad was a child of the Great Depression, and was an FDR Democrat his entire adult life,” Morrissette said.
The elder Morrissette fought with Gen. George Patton’s Third Army during World War II. Corporal Morrissette earned several campaign ribbons, including the European Theater of Operations ribbon.
“Twenty years ago my family and I attempted to have Dad revisit France, including the D-day landing areas, but he emphatically refused to go back,” Rep. Morrissette remembered.
Mr. Morrissette worked at the naval shipyard in Portsmouth, N.H., for 40 years. There, along with his co-workers, he helped build nuclear attack submarines during the Cold War between the U.S. and the U.S.S.R. “He almost became a Catholic priest – but didn’t,” Rep. Morrissette recalled.
The elder Morrissette was an avid drummer who taught himself how to play the drums at an early age. “During my childhood Dad earned a second living playing in several bands, working in places such as VFW halls, Eagle Foundations and other events to earn extra income for his family,” Morrissette said.
Mr. Morrissette was married to the same woman, Teresa Marie Morrissette, for 49 years, until her death in 2001. “Dad lived by himself for the last 15 years since the passing of my mother,” Rep. Morrissette said.
The couple had four children: sons David, Richard, and James Morrissette, and daughter Denise Marie (Morrissette) Daigle. Mr. Morrissette also is survived by four grandchildren and two great-grandchildren, one most recently born on March 6, 2013.
With roots in Quebec (Canada), the elder Morrissette was bilingual, fluent in French as well as English.
In reflections shared with The City Sentinel and other news organizations this week, Rep. Morrissette said (“with a chuckle,” according to this staff), “He tried to teach me French, but it just didn’t take.”
Commenting on the elder Morrissette’s home-going, Patrick B. McGuigan, editor of The City Sentinel newspaper and founder of CapitolBeatOK, an online news service, reflected:
“One by one, the brave soldiers of ‘the greatest generation’ are passing ahead. We may not see their like again. Each of us who values liberty should lift up in our shared circles the memory of their examples of courage, service to nation and community. We must honor their fidelity as fathers and mothers, as friends and neighbors. It was characteristic of many of these brave souls that despite their remarkable lives, the liberators of a continent who ended the horrors of the Holocaust rarely spoke about their experiences.
“In this day and age, I hope somehow that more men and women such as these will reemerge, and that such examples and models of living will be restored in our nation, their memories enduring for Eternity.
Speaking for myself and my family, I say to Rep. Morrissette and to his extended family: ‘Nous nous souvenons.’”
Funeral Mass arrangements for Robert Joseph Morrissette are pending.