Michael Ray McMorrow (Mike), age 63, died at his home in Durham on September 1, 2023. Mike was born December 30, 1959 in Gnadenhutten, Ohio, the second child of Harold Gaile and Marion “Liz” McMorrow. He grew up with a love of sports, and his parents instilled in him a strong respect for hard work. This is a value that would persist throughout his life. He attended the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill on a football scholarship, after a high school career as a star athlete of the football and track and field teams.
While attending the University of North Carolina, he met another student who would become his wife of nearly 42 years, Carol Dashner McMorrow. They married while still attending college, and Mike worked as many jobs as he could to help put her through the Duke University Physician Assistant Program.
One of these jobs was with a limousine company, and eventually led to him starting his own private transportation company, Carolina Livery Service, in November 1987. This company would become his life’s work, and a major point of pride for the McMorrow family. Started with one car on a line of credit in 1987, the company has now grown to be one of the largest mid-size bus fleets in the country. He worked tirelessly building this company alongside Carol, as she started her career as a physician assistant. Today, Carolina Livery Service employs more than 70 people and serves local businesses as well as major university systems and corporations in the region.
Once the company was more established, and Carol’s career was underway, Mike and Carol turned to family life, welcoming their first daughter Jennifer in 1992, followed by Becky in 1994. They were dedicated and involved parents, and found great joy in supporting their daughters in academic achievements, dance studies, and drama productions over the course of their school years. Throughout this time, Mike continued to run the day-to-day operations of Carolina Livery as it grew beyond what he could have imagined. Employees from this time will recall Mike being involved in every aspect of the business, from cleaning and driving the vehicles, to taking reservations and meeting with clients, to invoicing. When his daughters were young, they were often at the office with him after school, and liked to help out, although unfortunately this once resulted in Becky shredding a pile of invoices waiting to be mailed out! The McMorrow family grew up together steeped in the culture of family business.
In the early 2000s, Mike began experiencing fatigue and difficulties he was not used to. As a former athlete, his decline in activity was notable. Ultimately, he was diagnosed with Myasthenia Gravis, a neuromuscular illness that led to a long and slow decline of his muscular function. Over the next twenty years, this condition led him to progress from mobility aids such as walkers and canes to eventually using an electric wheelchair on a full-time basis. As someone who was used to hard and physically demanding labor, this adjustment challenged him. Anyone who worked with Carolina Livery during that period can attest that he did adapt and stay involved at the company, even if he did have to shift toward more administrative and strategic tasks.
Throughout both the challenges of his growing business and developing disability, he remained dedicated to and focused on his family. Following his daughters’ growing interest in the performing arts and musical theater, the family maintained season tickets to local Broadway touring shows first in Raleigh and later at the Durham Performing Arts Center. The family also traveled together frequently, often to New York where they would attend as many shows as they could together. The family enjoyed passionately discussing the performances and comparing shows over the years. They also all rooted passionately for the Tar Heels, honoring the university where Mike and Carol met, and enjoyed the spoils of rivalry by making Tar Heel cookies for friends and colleagues anytime the Tar Heels triumphed over the Blue Devils. He encouraged his daughters as they pursued studies, and always dove deep into researching and studying places they were traveling to, often trying to experience their travels vicariously through his research.
Mike is survived by his wife, Carol McMorrow, his daughters Jennifer McMorrow and Becky McMorrow, his parents Harold Gaile and Marion “Liz” McMorrow, his brother Timothy (Joyce) McMorrow, and his sister Michelle McMorrow (Dave) Ramsell, as well as many nieces and nephews he cherished. Mike’s family is forever grateful to the wound care team at UNC Hospital, as well as numerous medical providers at Duke University Medical Center for the stellar and attentive care he received over the last 20 years. They are also grateful for the caring transition to hospice care orchestrated by Duke Hospice.
A celebration of Mike’s life will be held in the Geib Funeral Center at Dover, OH on September 17 at 1:00 pm, with visitation an hour prior and a meal to be served afterward in the Funeral Center’s Hospitality Room.
Linn-Hert-Geib Funeral Home & Crematory
116 Second Street NE, New Philadelphia, Ohio 44663
Geib Funeral Service
5600 North Wooster Avenue, Dover, Ohio 44622
Geib Pet Crematory
5600 North Wooster Avenue, Dover, Ohio 44622