Morrisons celebrate 75th wedding anniv.
Mon, 01/08/2018 - 11:03am admin
—Couple makes a difference in Cresco, Howard County
Sara Stromseth-Troy TPD Staff
CRESCO - Craig and Florence ‘Flossie’ Morrison celebrated their 75th wedding anniversary Dec. 17, 2017.
The couple married in 1942. Both Craig and Flossie were students at Iowa State University. He majored in dairy industry and economics, and she majored in institution management.
“We decided we wanted to get married in December during Christmas break, just before the last corridor of college, and that shook the in-laws up a bit,” Craig said. “We told them that was what we were going to do, and they went along with it. We were married in the living room of Flossie’s home in Ames.”
Flossie remembers, “There was a blizzard that day, with 10 to 12 inches of snow. We were stuck in my folks’ driveway, and they had to dig us out so we could leave.”
The couple moved to Cresco in 1959, but their journey to Northeast Iowa was a storied one, due to Craig’s military service and the many moves they endured during those years.
Craig grew up on a dairy farm in Keosauqua, Iowa, the youngest of three brothers. Flossie was born in Madison, S.D., and lived there until she was 11 years old, before moving to Sioux City, Iowa. When she was a junior in high school, she moved to Ames, graduating from Ames High School in 1939. Both she and Craig attended Iowa State University, graduating in 1943.
Prior to college, in 1937, Craig received a call from the local creamery, offering him a summer job. His three brothers had worked the job previously.
While his father was willing to try to acquire some more land if his son was interested in farming, Craig thought some other kind of work would suit him.
“I worked at the creamery until September 1939, and with the encouragement of some friends and given the fact my next-oldest brother was in his final year there, I decided to go to Iowa State University.
“I went into dairy industry and economics, and I also decided to go into ROTC.”
Following their marriage, Craig enlisted in the Army, field artillery and light aviation in 1943.
“We started making moves following my military obligation to OCS (Army Officer Candidate School) and Fort Sill, and Flossie was able to come and visit, but we didn’t have an apartment during the three months of OCS.
“During that time, my mother was very ill with tuberculosis, and she and Dad decided to give up the farm, so Dad moved her to Arizona with the hope it would help. The disease was too far along, and she didn’t survive very long, and passed away in August. I took funeral leave from Fort Sill, and I was gone from duty for a couple of weeks. Flossie was obviously busy trying to help my dad through that transition, and they came back to Fort Sill to be at my graduation, and then I got my commission.”
He continued, “I was assigned to Camp Howze in Texas, with a unit that was well along in training for advancement to transportation to Europe. As the division training went on, Flossie was able to get an apartment in a rural area near that camp, and I could go home overnight. It was seven days’ duty during those times, and they were pushing to advance training as fast as possible.”
After the training ended, Craig went to Louisiana for three months. At the close of that training, he found an option available to go into flight training.
“We flew Piper Cubs, two-piece light, single-wing planes. There were 11 small planes in the division, pilots, and mechanics. My first assignment was in Pittsburg, Kansas, a town a little smaller than Cresco. Flossie came and got an apartment there. She became an expert at finding some place to live.”
“We moved 11 times in 18 months,” Flossie said.
Craig said he went to Texas for one month to train on a different kind of plane, primarily to transition into night flying.
“I trained in acrobatics for 30 days, which was quite an exciting experience,” Craig said.
His division was headed to Oregon when they found they had been called back to Fort Leonard Wood, Mo.
Battle of the Bulge
“From there, we got orders to go to Massachusetts. The war was moving rapidly. The Battle of the Bulge was a very intense period of combat, and we lost a great many people in the service who were fighting there,” he said. “In order to fill out the units, that had lost so many in combat, they rushed our infantry onto the ship ahead of the artillery and engineers,” Craig said.
“They picked the units and personnel they needed drastically at that time to move up fast to the front to stop the German advance as it was trying to make a breakthrough. We shipped out and went to Marseille, France, and offloaded our equipment and put our planes together.
“Our small planes were shipped over in crates, and our mechanics would bring crates in from the ship to what was a racetrack at Marseille that we could use as a landing field for our Piper Cubs. We set up camp on the racetrack and put our planes together and test flew them. That went on until we ran the Germans back over the Rhine and into Germany. In May, the Armistice was signed, and that battle was stopped. Some of our units were immediately designated for transport to the United States for training and equipping to go to the Pacific, because that battle was still raging on.”
“Eventually, we were sent through England and returned to the United States. In the meantime, the atomic bomb dropped, and after a really intense period of battle on the ships, and trying to prepare for the invasion of Japan, there were three atomic bombs dropped in a relatively short period of time,” Craig said.
“They had gotten to the point where they could reach Japan and bomb out their factories that were building the ammunition equipment and training areas for personnel. Fortunately, after the most intense part of that war, the Japanese did agree to surrender, and word came when I was in the process of shipping back home.
“You can imagine that was a happy day, but you can also imagine the families, and Flossie, listening to all that was going on. I often have felt many times since then that the psychological and mental stress was worse on families than it was on the people who were involved in the various aspects of combat.”
Craig continued, “I was very fortunate, as we had several months of battle still going on before Germany surrendered, but the main effectiveness of the German army had been weakened enough that they had been forced to retreat. I actually was returned to the United States and to a camp back home much earlier than many others, because I had not been over there as long as any of the troops, and consequently they were sending those with less time in the combat areas back to prepare us to go to the Pacific.”
Returning to the United States
Craig returned to U.S. soil in August, and the following June was discharged as a captain. He continued to be active in the Army Reserve, retiring with the rank of lieutenant colonel and 28 years of commissioned service.
He then returned to his hometown of Keosauqua and the cooperative. He served as assistant manager and manager for 12 years.
Move to Cresco
In 1959, Craig became general manager of the Farmers Cooperative Creamery Association in Cresco.
“It looked like a good opportunity for some stability and a place to call home,” he explained.
He continued, “I came up here a month before Flossie. I had planned to fly the plane to Cresco, but the weather wouldn’t let me do that, so I left the plane in Ames and got a ride.”
The couple ended up buying the home of their real estate agent, as the agent often moved into homes and then would sell them.
“We also needed a house with four bedrooms,” Craig said. The couple had four children: Tom (deceased), Susan, Patricia and Mary.
“At one point, our children and in-laws were all within three blocks of our house,” Craig said. “After they got through their schooling and got jobs, they scattered far and wide.”
The Morrisons have seven grandchildren and seven great-grandchildren.
Craig worked as general manager for the FCCA for 20 years. In 1963, FCCA acquired the Decorah creamery, and in 1979, merged with Wisconsin Dairies. After that, Craig served as operations manager in the western division.
The couple has been active and given back to the communities in which they have lived. Craig served as mayor of Keosauqua.
In Cresco, he served on the school board, 18 years on the Area Education Agency and 30 years on the Airport Commission. He was a member and past president of the Cresco Kiwanis Club. He was awarded the Ralph Keeling Iowa Dairy Leadership Award in 1985 and inducted into Gamma Sigma Delta at Iowa State University in 1976.
He served on the Howard County Economic Development Board for many years.
“My term expired, but they invited me to sit in on the meetings as an honorary board member. I appreciate the opportunity to keep in touch with what people are doing, and trying to do in the community to help it stay successful and vibrant,” Craig said.
Flossie served on the Cresco Public Library Board of Directors for 40 years, the Extension Council, and is a 70-year member of PEO. She also served on the Evans Memorial Home Board.
Both Craig and Flossie are active in the First United Methodist Church.
Thankful for each other and for Cresco
As they reflect on their 75 years together, the couple is thankful not only for each other, but for the Cresco community. They still live in the home they purchased in 1959, making adjustments as necessary to accommodate health issues.
“We are so thankful for the structure of our community, which provides us support and has provided the environment for raising our family. The medical services are just top-notch. There have been very far-sighted people active in making these things happen. We’ve tried to be a supportive part of all of these things. The Cresco Fitness Center is a good example and has meant so much to us as we got to retirement age; we have time to make use of it,” Craig said.
Flossie finds continued inspiration in a quotation: ‘We come to college not alone to prepare to make a living but to learn to live a life’. (M.J. Rigg, I.S.C. 1883, Iowa State Memorial Union).
What is their secret for such a long partnership?
“Mine is to find the right partner, and to have a strong enough foundation of respect and love to make it work,” Craig said.
Flossie agreed, and added, “In the last few years, we have had to really depend on each other. I am just glad to get up every morning, look at the world and say, ‘Here I am’”.