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Ron Morris wouldn't give up, believing it would send the wrong message to his children and his students

| Friday, June 8, 2012, 4:38 p.m.
Ronald R. Morris
Ronald R. Morris

Even as his body was being ravaged by cancer, Ron Morris wouldn't give up, believing it would send the wrong message tohis children and his students. Ronald R. Morris of Collier, a lifelong entrepreneur who hosted a radio show and was the founding director of Duquesne University's Entrepreneurial Studies Program, died on Wednesday, June 6, 2012. He was 62.

"I would call him one of the toughest guys I've ever met. He was iron-willed," said Alan Miciak, dean of Duquesne's School of Business.

"I've never seen anybody who had the kind of determination and grit this guy had - not just the way he dealt with his illness, but the way he lived, with intensity and passion."

Miciak said Mr. Morris refused to stop teaching this spring.

"Cancer is not a forgiving disease. He was in considerable pain and had some challenges getting around. It was difficult for him," Miciak said. "He said, ‘If I don't go to that class, I will be telling those kids that it's OK to quit.' "

Steven N. Greenberg and Morris shared an office when they began teaching at Duquesne in 2003."I never met anyone in my life who was more determined than Ron Morris," said Greenberg, who is chair of the Marketing, Sports Marketing, Supply Chain Management and Entrepreneurship Division.

"He was determined in every facet of his life. He was determined to succeed, no matter what it took.He was extremely ethical. His students adored him. He spent a considerable amount of time helping them. He would never stop."

Mr. Morris, the founder and host of "The American Entrepreneur" radio show, grew up in Beechview and started a door-to-door egg sales routewhen he was 10. He developed a dozen startups, including Informationand Systems Research Inc. - a software company that made him a multimillionaire before he was 30.

"Ron was incredibly open about his life," said Brian McMahon, chief executive officer of "The American Entrepreneur" radioshow, which is heard in Pittsburgh on WMNY-1360 AM and WPGB-104.7 FM.

McMahon said Mr. Morris readily acknowledged that he began gambling heavily and lost everything before joining GamblersAnonymous, rebuilding his life, founding more companies and repaying all his debts.

"Ron sort of did things his own way. He didn't always seek approval. In most cases, he sought forgiveness. That's the way he went about life," Greenberg said.

Mr. Morris was 50 when he married his wife, Karen. The couple have a son, Jaxon, and a daughter, Lexi.

"I've started a dozen companies, some of them very successful, but if you think there is anything harder or more rewarding than raising a family, there isn't," Mr. Morris told McMahon. "They have been my ultimate startup."McMahon said Mr. Morris told him that one of the proudest moments of his life came when Lexi set up a lemonade stand and made $100.

"He was the consummate teacher," McMahon said. "He taught his kids to question things and learn how things work. He was so proud of the questions Jaxon would ask and his insight into things."

Mr. Morris was vice chairman of the board of the Allegheny Institute for Public Policy, a Castle Shannon-based policy group.

"He was a Renaissance man," said Jake Haulk, president of the Allegheny Institute. "He was a very conscientious family man and a strong supporter of what we do. He was always very reasonable and an overall great guy."He sat on the boards of seven companies, including the National Foundation for Teaching Entrepreneurship,a nonprofit that teaches young people from low-income communities to enhance their economic productivity.

A year ago, he became the first person in Western Pennsylvania to receive Ernst&Young's Entrepreneur of the Year LifetimeAchievement Award.

A private memorial service will be held this weekend. The family has announced the creation of a fund to support entrepreneurship.

For more details, call McMahon at 412-875-2147.

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