R. Layne Morrill, a beloved Stone County resident and long-time realtor, died over the weekend at the age of 81.
He was born on June 2, 1939.
Longtime friends, coworkers and family mourn his death this week and took time to share their memories of Morrill.
“Our community mourns deeply the loss of Layne Morrill,” said President/CEO of the Table Rock Lake Chamber of Commerce Sheila Thomas. “His passing leaves a big hole in the fabric of Stone County. Layne was one-of-a-kind, and a mentor and friend to many, including me. He was a native son, but he was also very politically connected on the state and federal level and he could get things done. His accomplishments are so many they are hard to list. He was a Realtor and developer and helped incorporate Kimberling City in the 1970s. He has donated land to many organizations in the county. He served on the White River Valley (Electric) Cooperative board of directors for many years, and as president of Missouri Association of Realtors several times.
“In 1998, he served as the president of the National Association of Realtors, which is a big, big deal,” Thomas continued. “Along the way, he also served on many other boards on the local, state and federal level. His influence has truly left a legacy. He was chosen as Table Rock Lake Chamber of Commerce’s Community Service Award winner in 2006, followed by the Trailblazer Award in 2020. We were so thrilled that he was able to attend that ceremony last November. He was my friend and I will truly miss him and our conversations, and I know many others will also.”
Dennis Wood, who is a realtor with Keller Williams and is a former Stone County county presiding commissioner, Missouri state representative, and Kimberling City alderman, said Morrill was “bigger than life.”
“He was always involved in the community and the people that he loved. He’s kind of the only constant, I’ve been here 48 years and he was here and a friend immediately when I moved here. He’s just been a constant source of information and friendship over those years. He was always available when needed, always. The thing I think of with him most is that when he was in debates or in questions he was always the humble winner and a gracious loser if he lost in an effort. In my legislative and political life he was always available for me to use his wisdom in my work. Kimberling City, Stone County, the state of Missouri, even the U.S. will miss our friend, and he was a friend to everybody.”
“Layne Morrill was a great friend, a good advisor, and always willing to help,” said U.S. Senator Roy Blunt (Mo.) in a release. “He had a family history that gave him a unique knowledge of the development of the Table Rock Lake area as a travel destination and an increasingly good place to invest in property and community. Layne’s family connections to the Ozarks and The Shepherd of the Hills were deep and important.”
Former Branson Mayor Karen Best, who is a realtor with Keller Williams, posted a message on Facebook about Morrill.
“I am sad to hear of the passing of one of my greatest mentors, Layne Morrill,” she wrote. “I would have never been in politics without Layne’s leadership. He guided me through many ups and downs throughout the years. He was always there to listen and lead. He had a huge heart for this area and for real estate. He paved the way for so many Realtors over the years. I will miss our calls and visits. Fly high my sweet friend. You are loved and will be missed by so many.”
Morrill was recognized at the Table Rock Lake Chamber of Commerce Lake Splash Awards when he was presented with the 2020 Trailblazer Award in November.
According to the Branson Tri-Lakes News archives, the Trailblazer Award recognizes an individual who has forged a path for others in the area, demonstrated leadership, and influenced the community in a positive manner. According to the chamber, “Morrill has been a national, state and local leader in the real estate business and a long-time contributor to the community. He has a distinguished service record including his career-long political involvement which helped to develop and grow the community.”
The following was said by Cy Murray, White River Valley Electric Coop. (Ret.) during a video presentation at the Lake Splash Awards:
“In the beginning he did a lot to get Kimberling City going to where it is now. He helped incorporate Kimberling City. He got involved in the real estate business. He was president, three times, for the Tri-Lakes Board of Realtors. President of the Missouri Realtors.
“He was fortunate enough to have a wife (Brenda, who died in 2014) that was able to keep the business running, which allowed him to go out and travel the country doing the work of the organizations that he was on the boards and members of. Brenda was very helpful in allowing this Trailblazer to go out and to do things for folks all over the country. He served on the board of directors for the local cooperative. You never came into a board meeting that Layne wasn’t fully prepared for because he wanted to make sure that votes that were being taken were votes that were good for all the members of the cooperative. He even went up to Washington D.C. and was on the finance cooperative board that allowed folks to have money to go out and do developments, so he was very involved in a lot of the cooperative.
“Being innovative on some things that ‘well we’ve always done it this way’, well with Layne Morrill on the board you didn’t always do it this way, it was good for the people that he was representing on those boards to do what he did.
“I think everybody loves Layne Morrill, so let’s stand up and cheer for Layne Morrill.”
The following was said by U.S. Rep. Billy Long during a video presentation at the Lake Splash Awards:
“Layne was the president of the National Board of Realtors, and a lot of people don’t even remember that fact. Being a realtor for 30 years like I was a real estate broker before I went to Congress. I’d run into Layne at the national convention, state conventions, everywhere, I don’t know where he gets the energy.
“We’re what they call ‘fly over country’ and when you have someone local like Layne in a position like that, it really attracts attention to our area and people look at it and it helps the area prosper. Whether it goes in his pocket or not, it doesn’t matter to Layne, Layne’s there to help the community not himself, and that’s what’s so special about him.
“Layne is just a great guy. I don’t know where he gets the energy. I can’t imagine anybody more deserving of this award than Layne.”