Naomi Morris, former maternal and child health chair, died February 2

February 8, 2019

Dr. Naomi Morris

Dr. Naomi Morris

Naomi Minner Morris, MD, MPH, professor and chair of the UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health’s Department of Maternal and Child Health from 1975 to 1977, died on Feb. 2, in Portland, Maine. She was 87.

Morris was born in Chicago in 1931 to Carrie Auslender and Morris Minner. She married the late Charles Morris in 1951 and then graduated magna cum laude from the University of Colorado. The Morrises enrolled in the University of Colorado’s School of Medicine, the first married couple to be admitted together, and both graduated in 1955.

In 1959, Morris earned a Master of Public Health from the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. Her long and productive career in public health began with a job in the Massachusetts State Health Department’s Division of Maternal and Child Health. She subsequently worked for a county health department in Virginia.

In 1961, she moved to Chapel Hill, N.C., where she saw pediatric patients and engaged in research and teaching at UNC’s public health school. During a sabbatical year from 1970 to 1971, Morris served as adviser to the chief health officer for the U.S. Territory of Guam Health Department.

From 1980 to 1995, she was chair of the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC) School of Public Health’s Division of Community Health Sciences. She led UIC’s maternal and child health program for almost two decades and remained on the faculty for another 10 years, until her retirement in 2005.

During her long career, Morris served on numerous local, state and national committees and boards in both volunteer and elected positions, including the American Academy of Pediatrics, the Chicago Department of Public Health, the Association of Teachers of Maternal and Child Health, and the American Public Health Association’s maternal and child health section.

She published more than 50 peer-reviewed publications, technical reports and book chapters, received many awards, and mentored numerous students. In 1999, she received the Martha May Eliot Award for Outstanding Contributions to Maternal and Child Health, and in 2003, received the March of Dimes Award for Lifetime Achievement.

Morris, preceded in death by her husband Charles in 1998, is survived by her sons Jonathan and David.

A memorial service will take place later in spring 2019. Donations in her memory can be made to the UIC Maternal and Child Health Fund or the Gillings School of Global Public Health’s Department of Maternal and Child Health.

Donations to UIC should be made payable to the University of Illinois Foundation, with Maternal and Child Health Fund #335954 designated on the memo line, and mailed to University of Illinois Foundation, P.O. Box 3429, Champaign, Ill. 61826-9916.

Donations to the UNC Gillings School should be made payable to the Public Health Foundation, with ‘MCH/in memory of Naomi Morris’ in the memo line, and mailed to UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health, Department of Maternal and Child Health, P.O. Box 899, Chapel Hill, N.C. 27514-0899. Gifts also may be made online at giving.unc.edu/gift/sph.


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Contact the Gillings School of Global Public Health communications team at sphcomm@listserv.unc.edu.

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