Early in the morning on Aug. 6, 2018, Gary “Red” Morton flew free from his pain and suffering and left behind the mortal body which had slowly betrayed him.
Red was born in Seward, Alaska, on Sept. 25, 1953 to Carol “Jean” and Houston Morton. His brother Lee was also born in Alaska several years later. In 1966, Red’s family moved to Libby. Red attended schools in Libby and graduated from Libby High School in 1972. He then went on to college at the University of Montana in Missoula. After attending college for a few years Red came back to Libby and began working in the woods. Over the years Red worked various jobs in the forest industry, including planting and inspecting trees. Later he was employed by St. John’s Lutheran Hospital in the maintenance department until health issues forced him into an early retirement.
In 1978, Red married Susan Pumm and his two beautiful children, Megan and Cameron, were born soon after. In the early 1980s the family bought the home on 2nd Street in Libby where Red would live for the rest of his life.
In 1996, Red and Susan divorced and two years later Red married Sara Espy. Sara was with Red through sickness and health, until the end of his days on earth. Red and Sara’s door was always open to friends who wanted to stop and visit, play music or just relax in their quiet backyard.
Red had many passions throughout his life. He enjoyed traveling, fishing, hunting, reading and cooking. However, his greatest passion was music. Red loved to play guitar and sing with his friends and perform for the enjoyment of others. He spent many happy hours playing with all of his musically talented friends. He also loved listening to all kinds of music and had an extensive collection of vinyl.
Red loved reading and learning about new things and enjoyed sharing books he had read or new music he had found with his friends. Red was an open-minded, non-judgmental person who could talk to just about anybody about just about anything. He had friends all over the state, country and even the world. He loved taking road trips to visit them when he could or having them come visit him when it became difficult to travel. Red had a huge heart, so it goes without saying that he also had a huge amount of friends. When Red was in the hospital he still welcomed all his friends to come visit, right up to the day before he passed on. This caused the hospital staff to comment how they couldn’t believe the amount of visitors he got. They did not know they had a celebrity in their midst.
Red was preceded in death by his parents, Jean and Houston Morton. He is survived by his wife, Sara Morton; his two children, Megan Morton and Cameron Morton; his two beautiful grandchildren, Myra and Brendan; his brother, Lee Morton and wife Jeanette; his half-sister, June; his cousin, Vern Morton; his niece, Amie Morton; and several aunts and uncles. Red is also survived by many friends, too numerous to name.
Everyone who knew and loved Red is saddened by his leaving and will miss him dearly, but all of us have had our lives enriched by just knowing him. We all shine a little brighter because of him and wish him well on his next journey. He is singing “Make me an angel that flies from Montana” right now. Fly free Redman — and play on.
A memorial service to celebrate the life and times of Red Morton will be held at the Elks Lodge on Sunday, Sept. 23. There will be an open mic for music and bring your stories and memories to share with all who were honored to call Red family and friend.