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The first time I met Lumber Morrison was on the golf course.

I was the sports editor of this paper; he was one of the biggest figures in the local golf community.

We played in a nine-hole event, back when 6 feet in golf was a knee-knocking putt for most of us.

For the first four holes, Morrison called me Tom. Heading to the tee on No. 5, I stopped and said, "Mr. Morrison, you know my name is Jay, right?"

"Yeah, yeah," he said before placing a tee in the ground.

"That's right. Jay Tom, from Auburn," he quipped as he striped another tee shot down the middle.

Direct. Golf. Humor. Three of the things that were a large part of the fabric of his life and what made Lumber Lumber.

Add in his love for family and his country and his business acumen, and it's the recipe that made Robert Acuff Morrison Jr. who he was.

As his son Michael remembers, his father was quick to remind everyone within earshot that "Life ain't no dress rehearsal." Lumber lived true to that saying.

His professional career afforded him financial success and the ability to combine his passions.

He was a relentless supporter of the Signal Mountain community, the local and statewide golf scene and part of the philanthropic wave that helped transform Chattanooga.

The thousands of folks around the South who worked, played and laughed with him could likely produce many one-liners about the larger-than-life Lumber. Because as accomplished as he was with his clubs — he won multiple local and state amateur tournaments — he was sharper still with his wit, which was part late-night stand-up and part Yogi Berra.

Said son Rick: "Lumber had a knack for explaining new ideas that were clear to nobody but himself, and out of frustration for his stupid audience — usually my brothers and me — he would throw up his hands and say, "It's just so simple!"

And from Bobby, the oldest of the Morrison brothers, came this truism: "He would always say, 'The hurrieder you get, the farther behind you are.'"

Amen to that, Lumber.

Contact Jay Greeson at jgreeson@timesfreepress.com and follow him on Twitter @jgreesontfp.

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Jay Greeson
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