Mariquita ‘Maggie’ Morrison, 68, passed from this Earth after a courageous battle with depression and dementia on Friday, October 20 in Durham, NH. She was born June 8, 1955 in Cleveland, Ohio, the third of four children of Nancy Dygert Morrison and Hunter Morrison Jr.
As the only girl in a family of boys, Maggie had a special place in her father’s heart. He planted a crabapple tree when she was born and was known to say “she’s quite a gal”. Her childhood was filled with loving family, misadventures with her brothers, and outdoor pursuits. She spent many summers at Camp Aloha in Fairlee, VT where she fell in love with the northeast and became an avid outdoorswoman and environmental steward.
Her dedication to environmental and political action led her to work as an intern for Ohio congressman Charles Vanik in Washington, D.C., advocating to establish Cuyahoga Valley National Park and to her work for the Trust for Public Land. Later, she earned a B.Sc. in Community Development from the University of New Hampshire. Her early days in New Hampshire were marked by hiking in the White Mountains, contradancing, and establishing friendships that would continue for her entire life-- a testament to her loyalty and warmth.
Among those friendships emerged Nat, who became her husband of 36 years. The two met when he asked her to take care of his plants. Nat and Maggie were married October 3, 1987 at the Community Church of Durham and they raised their two daughters Emily and Eliza in Dover then later, Durham. She loved nothing more than spending quality time with her family and she lit up their worlds with her bright laugh, goofy impressions, and commitment to finding simple pleasures in life. She was an excellent mother.
Maggie worked for many years at the University of New Hampshire Alumni Association and was well connected to her colleagues and clients there. She served as the Sustainability Coordinator for the Oyster River Cooperative School District, working across fronts to reduce waste and carbon output of the district. Students called her "The Earth Lady" as she partnered with their teachers to plant vegetable gardens and learn about local food. She led high schoolers in strategic environmental leadership, composting, and plastic waste initiatives, as well as the district's first and recurrent "power-down" challenges.
She was an active member of the Community Church of Durham throughout her life. She served as chair of the church council and was skilled at knitting together local people and resources to build a more just and conscious community. She worked creatively and tirelessly to build interfaith environmental capacity in Durham and beyond.
Maggie is remembered by her insatiable sense of adventure. She loved planning vacations to visit far-flung friends and family and dreaming up elaborate outings closer to home. She relished her kindred friendship with homestay 'son' Michele Milia, visiting him back in Italy and sharing many wonderful moments together.
Maggie's ideal days were spent on long bike rides with friends, complete with a stop for a tasty sandwich, pastry, or a fancy tea drink. She cherished the seasons, taking advantage of moments in time to ski on the frozen Lamprey River, or take an ice-cold dip in a mountain stream in the heat of summer. Walks in the woods were filled with delight and wonder-filled discoveries at the vast and intricate world around her. She loved fairy houses, do-it-yourself projects, the garden, children's books, and family traditions. She believed in using the fancy china for everyday purposes.
Maggie’s family and friends stood by her side through her battle with depression and dementia. Her care team and incredible community showed grace and determination as they helped her navigate this challenging last year of her life. To them we will forever be indebted.
She is sorely missed by her husband Nathaniel ‘Nat’ Small Balch (69), and daughters Emily Morrison Balch (31) and Eliza Catherine Balch (27) and their respective partners Alfred Russo and Lillian Hartman. She leaves behind her three brothers Hunter Morrison (Barbara Orton), Edward ‘Ed’ Morrison (Bei Morrison), and Thompson Morrison (Mary Beth Camp), siblings-in-law Ben, Barney, and Paty, and nieces and nephews Jessica, Katie, Lu, Jason, Caitlin, Thomas and Sara.
She is predeceased by her parents and many beloved family members and friends.
Maggie's family invites you to remember her by contributing joyously to a fairy house village by the falls in the Oyster River Forest (natural materials only). Donations in her memory can be made to Community Partners of Strafford County. A celebration of life will be held in Durham in May, 2024.