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Humbled and honored: Thomson's Morris to be honored as Woman of Excellence during Friday night gala

When Lillie Morris learned the Central Savannah River Council Girl Scouts selected her as the 2005 Woman of Excellence in Arts, she thought their cookie dough wasn't quite done.

"...I was a registered nurse for 25 years, and I still work part-time at University Hospital in critical care. I spent so many years as a nurse, and I considered it a very fulfilling career...I could see myself chosen for healthcare, but I am most humbled they thought about me for arts. I stand in admiration of so many others in the arts community," Mrs. Morris said.

But the Girl Scouts know how to recognize a smart cookie. Mrs. Morris is a founding partner of Broadstrokes Art Gallery on Artists' Row in Augusta. She is a member of "Women on Paper," a participant in local art shows, and an illustrator of a childrenės book, Wally the Whale Learns to be a Winner.

Last season, Mrs. Morris enjoyed the challenge of painting on stage during the Augusta Symphony's Publix Family Series. She painted her interpretation of "The Sorcerer's Apprentice" while the symphony played the song.

"I think I only had about six minutes to finish it, so that was fun. Plus I wound up selling the painting to someone in the audience after the concert," she said.

Mrs. Morris was a Girl Scout from second through seventh grades, meeting at William Robinson Elementary School. She took violin lessons as a "young girl through the public school's program." Mrs. Morris continued her lessons at Augusta State University, under the tutelage of Eloy Fominaya.

"I just never felt I had what it took to play in a symphony, I just played for my own enjoyment," Mrs. Morris said. "Until I was at a festival where I heard a girl playing Celtic fiddle and it sounded like something I wanted to try."

Today, Mrs. Morris performs at local events, and teaches traditional Celtic fiddling to students who "range in age from 5 to 65." Once a week, Mrs. Morris teaches Katherine, a young woman with cerebral palsy. Mrs. Morris said it seems Katherine helps her, more than she teaches Katherine.

"We share a common interest of music and art. Sometimes we sing, sometimes we paint. It's like therapy," Mrs. Morris said.

Mrs. Morris also combined her love for art and music as a participant in the Augusta Symphony Guild's "Painted Violin Project." She was one of 10 professional artists chosen to paint a violin, which was exhibited everywhere the symphony played on tour. At the end of the season, the violins were auctioned to raise money for the symphony.

Mrs. Morris has learned to love Celtic music so much, that she looks for ways to increase the audience. Once a month, she brings in Celtic artists "from all over," and "converts Broadstrokes Art Gallery into a concert hall."

Mrs. Morris said persons may request to be put on an email list for notification of each concert.

Mrs. Morris said she has pursued her art career seriously, because she feels like she "entered it so late in the game that I didn't have time to lose."

According to Susan Simmons, public relations director for the CSRA Girl Scouts, this dedication is why Mrs. Morris was selected as a Woman of Excellence. "We began with over 80 nominations for the seven categories, so it's a real selective process," Mrs. Simmons said.

Since 1988, Women of Excellence has been an annual recognition of women in the fields of arts, business, community service, education, government, health, and professions. A selection committee of 15 members, all former Women of Excellence, choose one woman based on her achievements at work, her impact on the community, and her strength as a role model for girls and women.

"Humbled is the word that keeps coming to mind," Mrs. Morris said. "I'm honored."

Web posted on Thursday, June 2, 2005


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