Serving The Communities Of Portal and Rodeo (www.portalrodeo.com)

Portal, AZ - Rodeo, NM


Bob Morse



Bob Morse, born in Albany, New York on July 2, 1926.  He passed away after a lingering illness on November 2, 2012, dying in his home in accordance with his fervent desire.


While in the Navy, Bob got an engineering degree from Cornell.  Then  he went to work for Bendix in Elyria, Ohio where he was granted two  patents before he took early retirement in 1975.  Bob is survived by  his wife, Jeanne Williams, and two sons from his first marriage,  Brian and Robert, two grandchildren and two great grandchildren.


After retiring he traveled to birding hot spots, from Alaska to  Texas and in 1978 settled in Paradise, where he worked with the  Forest Service.  He met Jeanne on an Audubon bird trip in Mexico.   Married in 1980, they bought  their Portal home from Alden and  Gretchen Hayes a year later.


Bob, a keen observer of nature, had a passion for birding since  college days.  In 1982 Sally Spofford entrusted him with the  compilation of the Christmas Bird Count, which  he continued to host  in his home until his heart attack.  Despite declining health he   continued as compiler as long as he was able.  Birders remember him  fondly because he enjoyed sharing his knowledge of birds and their ways.

Bob made the first verified U. S. sighting of the Flame-Colored  Tanager which was named "Bird of the Year" by the American Birding  Association. NBC's "Today Show" sent a crew to do a segment on Cave  Creek, filming Bob at the Tanager's nesting site.

Birders traveled from all over the country to see the Blue  Mockingbird in his backyard since this was only the bird's second  appearance in the U.S.



"Bob was the drive to establish a fire department," explained his  good friend, Rene Blondeau.  "Without him we wouldn't have had one."   Together they solicited funds while Bob designed and acquired  materials for the first Portal Rescue building which is now the bay  for the rescue vehicles.  With their neighbors helping and Bob's  grant writing skills, his dream became a reality.  With Jeanne, he  had been an EMT since 1985. As our first Fire Chief he established  the department, serving over the years as Portal Rescue President and  Secretary as well as fireman.  The day before Bob passed away, he  nodded his head, acknowledging that he appreciated that the fire  station was indeed his enduring legacy to this community.

Bob was also Portal's longest keeper of weather records. His monthly and yearly averages have been posted on the Portal-Rodeo web site since the site's inception.  As we monitored our monthly precipitation, and compared it to Bob's data, spanning over 30 years, we were among the first to be able to assess climate change.


As Bob wished, Jeanne will scatter his and his beloved dog, Leon's  ashes along his favorite Chiricahua trails.  This is the only service  he wanted.

Bob wrote this engraving on Leon's ashes urn which has waited on  the fireplace mantle for 15 years.

"A faithful and loving companion,

Gone to a land of cool streams, big bones, slow rabbits and NO  thunder."


May they roam the Canyon.  Forever Free!

© Howard Topoff 2011