It was three years ago on Feb. 8, 2016 that Bay Ridge and Brooklyn as a whole lost a much-loved community leader.
Larry Morrish left behind a rich legacy of civic leadership that stretched back over 40 years. He did it all — from organizing parades to promoting goodwill and brotherhood within diverse religious groups and organizations in the community. He was also a columnist for this newspaper.
U.S. Senator Chuck Schumer eulogized Morrish, calling him “the beating heart of Bay Ridge.
“From preserving Fort Hamilton to bolstering youth services to supporting BRAVO and Bay Ridge’s many wonderful festivals and parades, no one called my office with more things for us to do than Larry Morrish,” Schumer said. “He is the very best of Brooklyn and lived and breathed to make his beloved Bay Ridge a better place for all who call it home.”
And so it was that on the evening before the third anniversary of his death, his wife Phillipa Morrish and five close friends, gathered at Peppino’s restaurant in Bay Ridge to reminisce and share stories and anecdotes about Morrish’s life.
Attending the dinner were community leaders Sal Ferrera, Penney Santo with her husband Dominick and daughter Elizabeth, and Ed Mafoud, owner of Damascus Bakeries and chairperson of the board of the St. Nicholas Home.
Phillipa thanked Santo for helping to arrange the celebration of Morrish’s life. “If I were not here tonight, I would be home feeling morose knowing that tomorrow Larry would be gone three years,” she said. “But instead I’m so thankful that we could be all be here together to remember Larry, and I know he’s with us here tonight.”
Santo recalled how Morrish brought her along “on all his adventures.” She remembered being by his side on 9/11 and when Superstorm Sandy hit.
“He wanted me to know about everything so I could take over one day,” Santo said. “And I kept saying that’s a long time away, but he knew differently. He adored all of you. The people here are the people he loved so much, but he loved everybody.”
Mafoud called Morrish a driving force behind the St. Nicholas Home. “Larry was a great man; he still is a great man because as Phillipa said, his spirit is very much with us,” Mafoud said. “The mark of a great man or woman is what you do for other people. All the money in the world; all the riches, houses and everything else doesn’t matter. What makes a person great, I believe, is truly how well-respected and how well you can touch and motivate other people and be there for other people.”
Mafoud said that Morrish would never turn down a friend or anybody else. He would reach out and help others. “The best way to remember him is to just think ‘what would Larry do?’” he added.