Longtime Dialog editor and staff writer Gary Morton died Saturday after a brief illness. He was 68.
A Texas native, Gary was the southern gentleman of the Dialog news operation who came to work at the Diocese of Wilmington in 1996. Easygoing and likeable, Gary could somewhat limit his Texas drawl, but not completely. His mild manner and courteous charm were matched only by his skills as a professional journalist.
Gary spent 50 years in journalism, having worked in mainstream news with the Fort Worth Press, Waco Tribune, and Abilene Reporter News. He then aligned his work with his faith, working for diocesan newspapers The Florida Catholic and The Dialog. He was a longtime member of the Catholic Press Association.
“He was a man of integrity and deep faith,” said Deborah Fols, diocesan development director. “When you encountered him, he made you feel very comfortable and you walked away feeling like you knew him for many years. He took pride in his work and he was happy to match that with his faith.”
“Gary was a true professional and wonderful gentleman,” said Dialog editor Joseph P. Owens. “We knew each other for just under a year, but I came to know and appreciate his work and terrific disposition. He is greatly missed here at the Dialog.”
Gary was devoted to his faith, family, and writing, and had a passion for his hometown Dallas Cowboys and Texas Rangers.
He endured more than his share of good-natured ribbing as he was surrounded by Philadelphia and Baltimore sports fans during his time in the Wilmington diocese.
“He was the only person I gave a pass to for being a Cowboys fan and that was only because he was from Texas,” said photographer Don Blake, a longtime colleague and friend. “He was great.”
Gary had covered issues and events throughout the diocese, but in recent years had focused much of his work in southern Delaware and Maryland’s Easton Shore. His most recent article, a feature on a hospitality center at Jesus House Prayer and Renewal Center, appears in the current issue of The Dialog. Another article, about Good Shepherd parish and school anniversary celebrations in Perryville, Md., appears online at thedialog.org. He was also in the process of writing additional articles for a special section planned for the Oct. 26 edition of The Dialog focusing on the diocesan sesquicentennial.
His selflessness continued beyond death with organ donations to the Gift of Life Program.
Gary was preceded in death by his parents, Grover Dean “Salty” Morton and Anita Ray Morton of Fort Worth, Texas; one brother, Tom Morton of Boerne, Texas.
Gary was married to Karen Reilly-Morton of Lake Mary, Florida, and is survived by his children, Kateri Morton, Michael Morton, Mark Morton, Megan Lawless and her husband, William Lawless; two grandchildren, Joseph Scruggs and Thomas Scruggs. He is also survived by six siblings, Ben Morton, Claudia Loffler, Mary Jones, Joe Morton, Cynthia Morton, and John Morton.
Family and friends are invited to visit at the Doherty Funeral Home, 3200 Limestone Road, Pike Creek on Friday, Oct. 5 from 5-7 p.m. A Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated at Resurrection Parish, 3000 Videre Drive, Wilmington on Saturday, Oct. 6 at 10 a.m. Interment is private.
In lieu of flowers, donations in memory of Gary may be made to the Down Syndrome Association of Delaware, PO Box 747, Middletown, DE 19709 (www.dsadelaware.org).