The late Lonnie Morris Sr., shown here with his wife, Shirley, will be honored at the renaming of Appling Park next month.
The Columbia County Board of Commissioners has approved renaming Appling Park for Lonnie O. Morris Sr., a longtime coach and recreation supporter in the county.
"Lonnie Morris Sr. was a big help in getting that park built, and he was a strong supporter of the recreation department," said Commissioner Lee Anderson, who proposed the name change to the board. "He coached many, many years. He devoted a lot of his time and effort into that park."
Located on Georgia Highway 221, just outside of Appling, the park was built during the mid-1960s. At first, it was little more than a baseball field. Since then, it has grown to include another field, a basketball and tennis court and a playground.
Morris, who died nine years ago, coached teams - primarily baseball - most of his adult life. He was an original member of the Columbia County Recreation Advisory Board and a former president of the Appling Jaycees, the organization that built the first ball field in Appling.
"My earliest recollection of it was that there was just a backstop. No fences. Just some wooden benches," said Lonnie Morris Jr., who inherited his father's love of sports and has coached football and baseball at Harlem High School for the past 23 years.
"For a long time, that little park, when I was in Little League, was the only place to play baseball," Morris said. "Harlem, Appling and Grovetown, every Little League game was played on that field."
In addition to the park renaming, Morris Sr. also will be inducted into the Columbia County Recreation Hall of Fame on Jan. 12 at the annual Coaches Banquet. Harlem High Athletic Director Jimmy Lewis will present the award to the Morris family.
A dedication ceremony to rename the park will be in January or February, said Barry Smith, director of community and leisure services for the county. Smith also said that a plaque will be given to the Morris family during an upcoming Board of Commissioners meeting.
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