Farewell to a Friend: Katherine Morse

Screen Shot 2016-02-17 at 2.03.05 PMKatherine “Kay” Morse, FSU alumna and one of the first graduates of our Master’s Speech Pathology program, passed away peacefully at age 90 on October 21, 2015. While at Florida State, she served as President of Zeta Phi Eta, directed a play at Jefferson High School in Tampa and experienced what she told her family were some of the best days of her life.

Morse didn’t always plan on going into communication science and disorders. Before meeting Professor Elizabeth Thomson, she had plans to pursue theater and library sciences. However, Thomson encouraged her to consider speech therapy and communication disorders. Morse and Thomson remained close friends past Morse’s graduation from Florida State.

In 1952, Morse and her geologist husband Sid moved to Dhahran, Saudi Arabia. She helped launch a television station while Sid searched for oil. She also opened a preschool, developed a storytelling program and provided speech and language development for mentally handicapped children in the area. In addition to this, she had an occasional tea with the King, Ibn Saud, and attended the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II.

Morse2Morse with friends at Landis Hall, 1947

Morse went on to teach speech- and hearing-impaired children in Tampa, FL and established a parent/infant program that enabled thousands of hearing-impaired children to speak. She proceeded to work in Hillborough County for 32 years. There, she was as a 30-year member of Pilot International and introduced a program for providing hearing aids to children who could not afford them. She served as Tampa president of Pilot International twice. She also focused on preventing the demolition of her alma mater Thomas Jefferson High School, whose auditorium now bears her name, and founded the Jefferson Alumni Association.

Morse is survived by her daughters, Karen Smith of Chattanooga, and Lark Mott-Smith of Tallahassee, five grandchildren and seven great-grandchildren.