A Cornell law student died a week and a half ago in a fatal automobile accident in his hometown.
James Morris law ’08 was only five minutes away from his parents’ home in Carbondale, Ill. on Sept. 16 when the accident occurred.
According to his best friend at Cornell, Salman Hafeez ’09, Morris had gone home for a job interview, and, at the time of the accident, was driving his Corvette.
“His death was immediate — he felt no pain,” said Hafeez.
Services for Morris were held in Carbondale last Thursday and Friday. Morris was buried in Carbondale’s Oakland cemetery.
“He was the most personable, most moral stand-up guy I ever met,” Ashley Gilfus ’08 said. “He always did what was right and never faltered. If you needed anything, he was there.”
Morris graduated with distinction from the University of Illinois where he majored in mathematics. At Cornell Law School, he served as an associate editor of the Cornell Journal of Law and Public Policy.
“James’ favorite professor was Bob Hillman — he loved his dry sense of humor — and James was best at Property Law,” said Severin Wirz law ’08 in an e-mail.
“James brought many smiles and much laughter to the often long and arduous days of law school,” said Chelsea Mclean law ’08 in an e-mail.
“He was a warm and incredibly accepting individual, with a wide array of friends and a heart that always had room for another.”
Morris had a very active social life, according to Hafeez, and he loved spending nights at Pixel Lounge on Dryden Road.
“He single-handedly kept the bar from dying out,” Hafeez said. “It was important for James to have the bar survive because it’s the little man in a Collegetown world of Ruloff’s and Stella’s.”
Gilfus added that Morris frequented Pixel because it’s the only place in Collegetown that carries Belvedere vodka.
Morris was also a member of Tau Kappa Epsilon, Gamma Chapter fraternity.
Boating, cooking, hunting and fishing were some of Morris’ pastimes. Hafeez recalled a time Morris cooked up a “great mushroom pesto concoction” after Hafeez had his appendix removed.
Morris had a host of nicknames. To his friends and family in Carbondale, he was known as Hunter. Then, after a game called “Fruit Cocktail” at a church youth camp, Morris was dubbed “Coconut.”
“I called him ‘Coconut’ when he was my TA in Calc 120,” said Shiraz Sherwani, University of Illinois ’06, who was also Morris’ fraternity brother in TKE.
“And then, in the frat, we called him Farva, after the guy from the Super Troopers movie,” Sherwani said.
As a math TA, Morris was “wonderful — he could explain any concept to anyone in a way that made sense to them,” according to Sherwani.
Religion played an important role in Morris’ life, too. In Ithaca, he attended Vineyard Church and was also a member of the Christian Legal Society.
“One night, we were just hanging out on College Avenue and we met a rabbi. It was a funny situation — we were a group of three, a Christian, a Jew and a Muslim,” Hafeez said. “We wanted to go to Chabad services near Gun Hill just for fun.”
Hafeez is planning a memorial service at Cornell after fall break, and is also organizing a memorial scholarship and bench in vicinity of the Law School in memoriam of Morris.
Hafeez said that anyone wishing to remember Morris through donations may contact him.
Also, the James Hunter Morris Memorial Scholarship Fund has been established at the University of Illinois Foundation, in Urbana.