On September 8, 2021, after a long struggle with multiple myeloma, Claire K. Morse passed peacefully to a place where bike tires don’t get flat, weeds do not take over your beautiful garden and people live together with dignity and justice. She spent her final days surrounded by her family, her dog, and the countless friends and community activists who share her dream of a more just future.
Claire was deeply committed to social justice and equity, building deep roots in Greensboro over the past four decades through her volunteering and advocacy. Whether serving as a teacher’s assistant at Lindley Elementary, answering questions as a Master Gardener, or fiercely advocating for racial justice in our schools, Claire poured herself wholeheartedly into her community endeavors. An educator at heart, she started her teaching career at Tougaloo College in Jackson, Mississippi. After moving to Greensboro in 1976, she was a faculty member in the Psychology Department at Guilford College for 35 years. She continued her teaching as a volunteer with Reading Connections, helping non-English speaking immigrants earn citizenship, language skills and independence. Her most passionate efforts over the past years, shared with her husband Larry, were working to undo racism. She was an active participant in the Greensboro Health Disparities Collaborative, focused on empowering communities to improve health disparities. Over ten years ago, she and Larry were founding members of GARA (Guilford Anti-Racism Alliance), an organization of two caucuses working in tandem to dismantle systemic racism at multiple levels in Greensboro.
Claire was at her finest creating community on many levels. She helped students and junior faculty network professionally and stayed in touch with them at a personal level as well. As Nana, the name she chose when she first became a grandmother, she taught her grandchildren to bake cookies, identify old coins, take a fishhook out of a fish’s mouth, or think through a math problem. She was a bonus grandparent for neighborhood kids who enjoyed her rambling garden and a mentor for their young parents. Hosting many friends and family for meals ranging from a brunch of sourdough waffles to dinners with many choices, often new recipes from different cultures and made with groceries she got on her bicycle, she loved a house full of dear friends. She knew how to truly include people and to create space for both challenging discussions about difficult topics and for laughter, joy, and deep abiding love and friendship.
She is survived by her husband of 54 years, Lawrence (Larry) Morse, her daughters (Jennifer Morse; Pittsburgh, PA and Jessica Morse; Durham, NC), her son-in-law (Zb Bornemann) and her grandchildren (Jackson Davis and Isabel Bornemann). She is preceded in death by her parents (Ellen & Gerhard Krebs; Franklin, NC); her brother (Donald Krebs; Highlands, NC) and her son-in-law (Jason Davis; Durham, NC).
There will be an outdoor, Quaker-style celebration of Claire’s life at Gateway Gardens (2800 E. Lee Street) in early October. A virtual option will also be available. For those interested in honoring Claire’s legacy, we request tax-deductible donations be made to the Greensboro Health Disparities Collaborative through The Partnership Project (http://thepartnershipproject.org/donate.html or at The Partnership Project; 301 S. Elm Street, Suite 414; Greensboro, NC 27401).