Oklahoma Military Academy alumnus James “Jim” Morrison (’52) has been selected to receive the 2021 OMA Perseverance Award. His outstanding accomplishments throughout his personal and professional life will be recognized during a ceremony at the OMA Alumni Reunion this summer.
Morrison’s life work is the definition of perseverance. A proud veteran and successful businessman, he came from humble beginnings and continues to generously support his community.
“I am honored to receive this award, but to be placed in the company of Billie Williams, the first recipient, who, I consider the epitome of perseverance, this is the highest award I could ever receive,” Morrison said. “We are to be good stewards of what we are given in life, and it has been my honor to continue OMA’s legacy of excellence and service for generations to come.”
Dr. Danette Boyle, the executive director for the OMA Alumni, has treasured her relationship with the Morrison’s. Their commitment to community, family and future students has been remarkable.
“It is truly and honor and a privilege to have had the opportunity to work with Jim Morrison for so many years in the development of the OMA Alumni Association and Rogers State University. Jim’s perseverance has been extraordinary and very instrumental in the success of RSU and the OMA Alumni Association,” Boyle said.
Jim and his wife Norma have been influential in defining the OMA legacy for future generations by selflessly giving back their time and talents. Jim serves on the OMA alumni board, supporting initiatives, establishing endowments and assisting in the development of the Oklahoma Army National Guard’s GOLD program at RSU.
Standing by Jim’s side after 65 years together, Norma has been named an OMA Honorary Cadet.
“Norma feels like home. She’s been by my side for everything. The life we’ve built together has gone by fast, but it doesn’t seem fast,” Morrison said.
A successful businessman and civic booster, Jim has previously been selected as a Distinguished Alumnus and an OMA Hall of Fame recipient, as well as a Jefferson Fellow, one of Rogers State Universities highest honors. He served as a regent for RSU’s predecessor institutions and currently serves on the OMA Alumni Board of Directors.
Jim was encouraged by his high school English teacher to apply to the Oklahoma Military Academy in 1948. He arrived in Claremore in January 1949 with just enough money to pay for the spring semester.
Through hard work and determination, Jim earned a scholarship to complete high school at OMA and finish junior college. Without the scholarship, he would not have been able to achieve his education.
“I’ve had a lot of help in my life, and there’s a lot of students at Rogers State University who need a little help just like I did back then. Norma and I are thrilled for the small part we play in helping make their college dreams come true,” Morrison said.
After graduating from junior college in 1952, Jim attended the University of Oklahoma on an athletic scholarship and participated in ROTC, where he was a cadet colonel. After graduation, he served two years of active duty in the Army and three decades with the U.S. Army Reserves.
In his business career, he began working as an industrial engineer with Colgate Palmolive Co., and later as a sales engineer with the Universal Atlas Cement Division of the U.S. Steel Corp., which was the first step in his long and distinguished career of owning concrete companies in Oklahoma and Kansas. Making the best even better is Morrison’s legacy.
“The OMA saved my life. It changed me completely. Education will last a lifetime, and there’s so much potential at RSU. We are thankful to be part of the OMA and RSU family,” Morrison said.
The Oklahoma Military Academy is the predecessor institution of Rogers State University operating from 1919-1971. The legacy of the OMA lives on through the OMA Alumni Association and the Guard Officer Leader Development (GOLD) Program at RSU. Upon completion of the GOLD Program, RSU students earn the rank of Second Lieutenant and become a commissioned officer in the Army National Guard.