Two local advocates known for their advocacy on downtown Sequim corners have recently paused their efforts for health-related and personal reasons.
Neil Morris, a 79-year-old Sequim resident for 30 years, suffered a stroke on Jan. 14 at home, his wife Suzi said in a phone interview.
He spent a few hours every day at the corner of Washington Street and Sequim Avenue holding Black Lives Matter and Human Rights Campaign signs after learning of the abuse and death of Minnesota black man George Floyd on May 25.
Suzi Morris said Neil begins physical therapy next month and he’ll “be out of commission for awhile.”
“We’re hoping for the best,” she said. “He would truly like to get back out there.
“He cannot drive at this point. If I took him, and he needed to come home it just wouldn’t work for him, but hopefully after physical therapy.”
Suzi said Neil’s signs also served as support for their adopted son who is biracial, and a grandson who is transgender.
“Neil thanks those who supported him in the last year,” she said, and they’ve been “amazed” at the response.
“It’s just amazing how many people have gone out of their way to thank him,” Suzi said.
“He’s not doing it for the thanks. It’s one small little voice he can put out to the world. It’s evidently meant a lot to an innumerable amount of people.”
Prior to retiring here in 1990, Morris spent 26 years in Alaska owning and operating a telephone company and an electricity business with his brother Daryl.
Usually across the street from Morris holding a sign with biblical scripture is 73-year-old Jim Nightingale of Carlsborg, but a “perfect combination of things” led him to take a break, he said in a phone interview.
Those reasons included colder winter weather, the pandemic, the inability to speak well through his mask to pedestrians at a busy intersection, and his recent marriage.
Nightingale began standing with messages of scripture — Acts 16:31, in particular — in late July, following the lead of Jim Nichols of Sequim who started holding signs on the Fourth of July.
“People respond to that when you show love,” Nightingale said. “There’s nothing greater than holding up the name of Jesus.”
Nightingale married Linda Dahl, also of Sequim, on Dec. 10 after about four months of dating.
“It was an answer to prayer,” he said. “It just happened. It went fast because we knew it was right. She knew it was right. It didn’t take long.”
This is Nightingale’s fourth marriage; he lost his first wife Katie to breast cancer and his third wife Pauline in February of last year. The widower has 10 children and 20-plus grandchildren and four great-grandchildren.
The last time Nightingale was in downtown Sequim with a sign was in November, but he’s planning to return sometime in the near future.
“I’m planning on it,” he said. “We’re moving all her stuff. We’re not spring chickens. She may join me out there. She’s very supportive of what I do.”
Nightingale served in the U.S. Navy and U.S. Coast Guard before retiring as a general contractor.