December 2, 2013

A scholarship established by her children honors her advocacy for maternal and child health

Rereading Dubose Heyward’s The Country Bunny and the Little Gold Shoes was a fitting prerequisite to writing about Dr. Sarah Morrow.

In the timeless children’s book, the mother of 21 baby bunnies triumphs through hard work and perseverance, superhuman organizational skills and an abundance of kindness, despite the prejudices of rather snobbish male rabbits. The country bunny’s unlikely success parallels Morrow’s own. A sole breadwinner with six young children and a husband who was ill, Morrow earned medical and public health degrees, becoming one of the most respected and effective administrators in the state of North Carolina and a crusader for women’s and children’s health.

Now, in gratitude and to honor their mother’s contributions, her children have made a gift to the UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health so that others may prepare for illustrious public health careers. The Sarah Taylor Morrow Scholarship in Maternal and Child Health, established by Lynne Morrow Perrin, Sally Morrow Shelley, Thomas Lacy Morrow III, Frank Paul Morrow, Alice Morrow Dean and John Howard Morrow, will support maternal and child health students at Morrow’s alma mater.

“We are very proud of our mother and what she has accomplished throughout her life and continues to accomplish even today as a pediatrician and public health professional,” wrote Lynne Perrin, on behalf of her siblings. “Mom always placed high priority on children having good health and a good education. We  her children and grandchildren  established this scholarship to honor her and encourage others to learn about her life’s work and embrace her ideals.”

Morrow earned a medical degree from the University of Maryland in 1942  at age 23  and a Master of Public Health from UNC in 1959. As a clinician at the Guilford County (N.C.) Health Department, she established the department’s groundbreaking Child and Youth Program, and soon became the department’s first woman director. In 1976, she was appointed by Governor James Hunt Jr. as Secretary of the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services, again the first woman to serve in that capacity. Later, she served for more than 20 years as medical director for Electronic Data Systems.

Even in her 90s, Morrow has remained, her children say, “a tireless public health advocate, working with the N.C. Citizens for Public Health and inspiring new generations of public health leaders through her continuing involvement with the Gillings School.”

“We are proud of Dr. Morrow and so grateful to her,” says Herbert Peterson, MD, Kenan Distinguished Professor and chair of the School’s maternal and child health department. “She is a true pioneer in the  field and has made many important contributions over the years to our department and those we serve.”

—Linda Kastleman

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