WWI Snapshot: Thomas Aubrey Morse 1896-1996

Thomas Aubrey Morse founded the YMCA in Florida. He is one of the longest living Brunswick County WWI veterans, living for over 100 years. Brothers Christopher Roger Morse and James Harris Morse also served in WWI.

Thomas Aubrey Morse and two brothers who also served in WWI, Christopher Roger Morse and James Harris Morse, were born in Southport, NC. A photo is available for Christopher Roger Morse, who will be featured in his own WWI Snapshot next week.

NC WWI Service Card
Thomas, who went by the name Aubrey, was ordered to report for duty on August 5, 1918. Corporal Morse served with the Medical Department at Fort Ontario, NY, until honorably discharged on August 23, 1919.




This photograph was found on page 67 in the 1921 Trinity College (now Duke University) yearbook when Aubrey was a senior, and was copied into his Findagrave entry. The following accompanied the photo.

“Morse, although short physically, is pretty long mentally. He is best known by the fact that he has stood between the faculty and students during his Senior year as a member of the Student Life Committee. As far back as we can remember, he has gone into College activities with every ounce he could spare, and very often he has been heard from. Kaiser Bill evidently thought that Morse was coming because he vacated, and this action was probably a wise one. Shorty always has a smile for all of his friends, and if he has any enemies, we have never heard of them. It was chiefly because of Shorty’s far-reaching influence that David Bispham honored Trinity with a concert. He has been a valuable assistant to Cap Card in his physical exercise. With such a good start, the question which arises is, Where will he stop?”

Aubrey was one of the longest living Brunswick County WWI veterans, passing away at age 100 in 1996. His obituary listed his accomplishments.

Founder of local YMCA Aubrey Morse dies at 100
He headed up YMCA programs in Kentucky, Virginia, and Tennessee before starting one in Tallahassee.

A small man who did big things for Tallahassee, T. Aubrey Morse, has died.

Morse founded the Tallahassee YMCA in 1952. He later spent 17 years (1966-1983) as the cashier of Tallahassee Memorial Hospital. His wife, Cora Morse, was an ardent preservationist who nearly single-handedly saved the old Union Bank building from destruction in 1971. Cora Morse died in 1994.

T. Aubrey Morse died Wednesday at the extended care facility of Tallahassee Memorial Regional Center, where he had been hospitalized for two weeks. Morse, who suffered deafness, diabetes, and a broken hip in his final years, celebrated his 100th birthday on March 11, receiving congratulations from U.S. Sen. Bob Graham and Florida Gov. Lawton Chiles.

Morse stood only 5-foot-4, and he carried a wooden box to stand on when making speeches or teaching Sunday school at Trinity United Methodist Church. But in nine years of erecting the framework of an agency that now serves 10,000 area residents a year, he created a big legacy.

“Aubrey was small in stature, but he walked tall among men,” said Tom Humphress, retired president of Barnett Bank, who headed the citizens group that petitioned the YMCA for a chapter in 1952. “Many, many young people got their best training, moral- and spiritual-wise, from Aubrey.”

Thomas Aubrey Morse, who went by his middle name, was born March 11, 1896, in Southport, N.C. He earned a degree in Christian leadership and training from Trinity College, which later became Duke University.

A World War I veteran, Morse joined the Young Men’s Christian Association after graduation, and headed up YMCA programs in Lexington, Ky., Norfolk, Va., and Jackson, Tenn., before Tallahassee.

The funeral will be today at 10:30 a.m. at Trinity United Methodist Church. The family will receive visitors immediately after the service in the church parlor.

Morse is survived by three sons, T. Aubrey Morse Jr. of Marietta, Ga., Robert G. Morse of Tallahassee, and William S. Morse of Franklin, N.C.; and three grandchildren.

Ensley, Gerald. “Founder of local YMCA Aubrey Morse dies at 100” Tallahassee Democrat (Tallahassee, FL), 27 July 1996, p. 17

Thomas Aubrey Morse was laid to rest in Tallahassee, FL. Along with a headstone, this military flat marker is located at his grave site.

Source: Findagrave

To view this or an earlier profile or snapshot at any time, click on the veteran’s name on the WWI Brunswick County Veteran list, which is also accessible by the blue button on the top right of the webpage.

If you would like to help us honor Thomas Aubrey Morse or another Brunswick County WWI veteran, please use the following links:

Click here for the announcement:
Announcement: Honor a Brunswick County World War I Veteran
Click here for directions to donate and honor a veteran:
How to Honor a Brunswick County World War I Veteran

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