Elected: April 13, 1996
Inducted: August 16, 1996
Born: Charles William (C.W.) Morris was born to Elijah and Cora Lee Morris on January 22, 1921 in Lawrence, Kansas. Charley, as he was then known, moved with his parents and three siblings to Joplin, Missouri at the age of 4.
History: Charley attended school in Joplin and at age 9 started working at his father’s service station. In those days “service” was an important part of the business. His job was to provide service by airing tires and cleaning windshields. At 18 years of age, he met his wife to be, Opal Tullis. Opal and Charley were married on December 3, 1939. They are parents of 5 children: Lanny, Diana, Kathy, Teresa and Charles W. Morris, Jr. In 1941, Charley and Opal moved to Los Angeles, California. Charley spent 6 weeks in manager’s training with Union Oil Company. Upon completion of training, he was placed as a manager of a Union Oil Station in San Diego, California. At age 20, he was the youngest manager in the company. Charley’s service station was selected as a site for training women to take the place of the Union Oil Company men going to war. Two years later, in 1943, “Uncle Sam” decided that he needed Charley to go help win World War II. He spent 2 ½ years in the European Threatre fulfilling his obligation. Upon his return home, Union Oil Company allowed Charley to begin where he left off. More importantly, he earned his own dealership.
Charley’s success with Union Oil continued with each passing year. By 1953 he had acquired five Union Oil service stations. One of his stations was the first “5 star” station scoring number one in tire, battery and accessory sales. He was instrumental in initiating and developing the widely recognized “PRO TEC” program for Union Oil. During Charley’s 44 year career with Union Oil, he won many plaques and awards, including a gold watch at the 30 year mark. Chuck (as he was known in the later 1950’s and 60’s) has an interest in all aspects of the automotive industry. His fascination with automobile racing inspired him to build a race car. With help from his crew at the business, Chuck built and sponsored a winning race car which won first place in the season of 1963. Recognizing his leadership talents, the San Diego Racing Association elected him as their president, a position held for 8 years. Chuck served on the Board of Directors of the San Diego Racing Association for many years and was instrumental in establishing the “Modified Sportsman” class.
In 1967, Chuck decided to purchase a tow truck to use as a part of his service station business. The truck was ordered and he and Opal flew to Chattanooga, Tennessee to take possession and drive it back to San Diego. Six months later they purchased another truck, then another and another. It wasn’t long until a fleet of tow trucks was known as C.W. Morris Towing. The C.W. Morris Union 76 Service and C.W. Morris Towing was a well-known mecca of automotive service. Serving the entire Southern California area, C.W. and his crew were on call 24 hours a day to provide light and heavy duty emergency towing service. In 1972, C.W. purchased Metropolitan Towing Inc. Under his insightful management, C.W. tripled his gross towing income in the first year. Each year the towing business grew significantly, requiring expansion of facilities, new equipment and more employees. C.W. always insisted on providing the finest service using the best and latest towing equipment. This ethic led him to establish Metro Towing Equipment Inc. Through this company, he was able to build the finest towing equipment for his own use at Metropolitan Towing and to make custom equipment available for sale to other towing operators. Though these businesses and his involvement with other tow operators, he established a long term relation with the California Tow Truck Association (CTTA).
C.W. served on the CTTA board of directors for 8 years and also as President of the San Diego Chapter in 1980 and 1981. He was elected President of the State Chapter of the CTTA in 1985 and served as President for 2 years. As President he was able to establish an insurance program for executive directors and expense accounts for incoming CTTA presidents and officers. C.W. sold his last Union 76 service station in 1984, and concentrated entirely on the towing business. C.W. was also a member and strong supporter of the Towing & Recovery Association of America (TRAA), a national towing association, and The Friends of Towing. Through affiliation with these organizations, he and Opal traveled to attend towing oriented meetings and conventions throughout the country. In 1989, Metropolitan Towing Inc. and Metro Towing Equipment Inc. were sold to A to Z Towing. The acquisition by Dale Wineteer and associates formed a new company, A to Z Metro. During C.W.’s long association with the towing industry, he was presented many awards including CTTA Member of the Year, CTTA Lifetime Membership and Landoll Truck Corporation Top Ten in Sales Award. C.W. is retired, but still a member of the Board of Directors at A to Z Metro. He and Opal continue to attend meetings and conventions whenever possible.
DECEASED – April 27, 2000