A History of Its
Industries, Railroads and Inventions
Village Historian Chris Morley Dies
Ballston Spa Life
BY ANN HAUPRICH
SPA — Village History Consultant
Maurice “Christopher” Morley’s death at 89 early Wednesday marked the end of an
era in the community, according to Mayor John Romano.
Romano said that Morley, whose hobbies included old-fashioned wooden toy-making,
succeeded in “carving a lifetime legacy of caring and sharing in his hometown.
The village was the love of his life. There will never be another one like him.
He is irreplaceable.”
Romano said he will miss the daily contact he’s had for nearly 20 years with his
“good and close friend” at Village Hall.
“Chris was the heart of this village,” said Deputy Clerk Teri O’Connor, who
shared an office with Morley for six years. “He was a true blue friend and a
gentleman who cared more about this village than anyone I have ever known.”
Clerk Terri Zayac called Morley “a dedicated and caring person” with a sense of
humor that brightened the lives of those who worked inside of Village Hall on
Front Street. “We came to look upon him as family because that’s how he treated
Village Treasurer Chris Hickey enjoyed daily visits from Morley, whose office
was situated on the lower level of the landmark. “He was known around here as
Chris One because he came here first and I was Chris Two,” said Hickey. “He was
always eager to learn something new.”
Local author Timothy Starr said Morley provided invaluable assistance to anyone
with an interest in local history, directing them to materials or individuals in
“He was always generous with his diverse history collection,” Starr said.
“He gave me insights that filled many gaps in the history of Ballston Spa that
would have otherwise been lost forever.”
Dolores Taisey of the Medbery Inn & Spa on Front Street said her fondest
memories included watching Morley giving toy-making demonstrations at Brookside
Museum. Sporting a rustic straw hat and a shirt stitched of homespun fabric with
a cotton scarf knotted around his neck, Morley often looked as if he’s stepped
out of a time machine with a button set in the early 1800s.
Eyes twinkling as he spun colorful
yarns at the museum, Morley mesmerized audiences as his wooden creations danced,
jiggled and flipped over.
An early entrepreneur who took his first job delivering telegrams at age 10,
Morley worked as an usher for the now defunct village theater, the D & H
Railroad, General Electric and the American Hide & Leather Co. before settling
into construction for about three decades while his wife, Nancy, gave pottery
Morley, an Eagle Scout who served in the U.S. Marines during World War II, was
awarded 14 service medals and battle stars.
He remained active with the village’s VFW post for more than half a century.
He was named the local Rotary Club’s 2006-2007 Citizen of the Year, serving as
grand marshal during the village’s bicentennial celebrations in 2007. Morley
always insisted that credit for “anything I somehow managed to get right” went
to his parents and some teachers who recognized a brilliance that for others was
obscured by what today would be treated as a correctable learning disability.
To motivate contemporary students who struggle with reading challenges, Morley
helped the Rotary Club establish what is now the Maurice “Christopher” Morley
Literacy Fund, administered by the school district to recognize elementary grade
youngsters who overcome reading hurdles.
His greatest source of pride, however, was his son Edward, who is the police
chief in Stuart, Fla.
A wake will take place from 2 to 5 p.m. today, July 17, at Armer Funeral Home,
39 E. High St., Ballston Spa. A Mass of Christian burial at 9 a.m. on Monday,
July 18, will be celebrated at St. Mary’s Church, 167 Milton Ave., Ballston Spa.
Internment will follow at Gerald B.H. Solomon Saratoga National Cemetery,