James J. Morris Jr., 66, of Oak Park, died on May 9, 2012 after a four-year battle with cancer. Born on March 6, 1946, in Johnson City, N.Y., to James and Robina (Ehman) Morris, he was the oldest of seven children. Raised in Endicott, N.Y., he graduated from Union Endicott High School in 1964 and enlisted in the Marine Corps, serving honorably for two tours in Vietnam from 1965-69.
When he returned home, inspired by Jack Kerouac's On the Road, he hitchhiked across the country for several years, starting out with just "a dollar in his pocket." He worked many jobs along the way and his stories are legendary.
In 1973, he wound up in Iowa City, where he met Martha Clare Chinn, a student at the University of Iowa. It was there that he earned his nickname, "Joy Boy," which stuck with him the rest of his life. They were married in 1978 and had three children.
Mr. Morris worked for 30 years in the masonry construction trade. The family lived in Melrose, Mass., a suburb of Boston, from 1987 till 1992 when they moved to Oak Park. He coached his kids' baseball and basketball teams and was an avid reader. He will be remembered for his sense of humor and his zest for living.
A memorial service was held on May 17 at Pilgrim Congregational Church in Oak Park.
Jim Morris is survived by his wife, Martha Clare M.D. and his children, Clare Crowley (Peter), Laura Marr (Darcy), and Patrick.