- The Washington Times - Thursday, December 2, 2004

Charles E. Morrison, 77, topographer

Charles Emory Morrison, a retired topographer with the U.S. Geological Survey, died Nov. 27 at Inova Fairfax Hospital of complications from a heart attack. He was 77.

Mr. Morrison, who was born and raised in Altoona, Pa., had lived in Vienna, Va., since 1962. He enlisted in the Navy during World War II and spent two years on a wooden minesweeper, YMS-408, in the Pacific. Upon his return home, he attended Pennsylvania State University, graduating in 1951 with a degree in forestry.

He then began a 33-year career with the USGS making topographic maps and performing related surveys. The early part of his career included field surveys east of the Mississippi River, with assignments in the north during the summer and in the south during the winter. He later was assigned to the research office in McLean and then to the Branch of International Activities, leading to assignments in Antarctica, Saudi Arabia and Yemen.

He had four “summer” assignments in Antarctica, living in a tent on the ice cap. He worked in Marie Byrd Land, Ellsworth Land and the McMurdo Dry Valleys, and on one occasion he survived a helicopter crash.

He also took astronomic observations before the advent of the global positioning system as part of a program to determine the direction and rate of movement of the 10,000-foot-thick ice at the South Geographic Pole to assist the National Science Foundation’s planning for a new South Pole scientific station.

After retirement in 1984, he became a volunteer guide at the USGS headquarters in Reston, taking school groups and others on tours of the building and explaining the earth science mission of the bureau. He also volunteered for Meals on Wheels and picked up hospital staff during snowstorms. Recently, he worked as a docent at the new Udvar-Hazy Center of the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum in Chantilly.

Mr. Morrison was a member of polar-related organizations, including the Antarctican Society and the Old Antarctic Explorers Association. Morrison Bluff in the Kohler Range in Marie Byrd Land was named in his honor by the U.S. Board on Geographic Names. The National Science Foundation gave him the Antarctic Service Medal and the Department of the Interior presented him with its Meritorious Service Medal.

He was active in the D.C. group of the USGS Topographic Retirees, an organization of former members of the mapping division.

He was proud of his family’s 1935 Ford three-window coupe, which he had had restored. The car won top honors at national antique car shows.

He was a member of the Juniata United Methodist Church in Juniata, Pa.; Wesley United Methodist Church in Vienna; and the Masonic Hiram Lodge Number 616 in Altoona.

He is survived by his wife of 53 years, Dorothy Irene Morrison, of Vienna; two daughters, Sandra Kay Gallagher of Capon Bridge, W.Va., and Susan Kay Reynolds of Colonial Beach, Va.; a son, Mark Alan Morrison of Edinburg, Va.; and three grandchildren.

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