Trail named in honor of coach Vince Morris will be remembered for sharing courage and strength

By Carol Kinsley

"Coach Vince Morris was probably the strongest and smartest person I've ever known," said Andrew Hoffman, a member of Morris' cross country team at Seaford High School for four years. Morris fought two kinds of cancer, he explained, both leukemia and lymphoma, losing the battle in Hoffman's senior year. Hoffman and his sister Jennifer, who is on the team this year, turned out April 25 for a 5k walk/run at Chapel Branch on a trail there which was renamed in honor of Morris. There were a number of brief ceremonies on that bright Saturday morning. Welcoming visitors, Marlene Mervine of the Nanticoke River Watershed Conservancy Inc. said the conservancy had purchased the 196-acre parcel across from what was then DuPont in the 1990s. The land was typical of Seaford and Sussex County. Ralph Keene, former DuPont chairman, said he used to walk the area and had always thought what a great place it would be for a nature trail. Then at a meeting at the DuPont plant, when the discussion turned to how the company could be more environmentally friendly, he suggested creating a nature trail and opening it to the public. Eventually the project was approved and funded, and Keene was one of the small group of people who did the work. "Before the trail was created," he said, "there had been talk of cutting the timber for a golf course."

The Sussex Bird Club recognizes the uniqueness of the area and supports Chapel Branch through clean-up and Adopt-a-Wetland. A total of 69.3 acres of the tract was recently discovered to be "inland dune and ridge/forest," which is globally uncommon. The variety of forest species and number of birds in an area within walking distance of Seaford also makes it unique, said past president David Weber, who accepted on behalf of the group an "Adopt a Wetland" sign presented by the State of Delaware. Steve Kimpton, operations leader at Invista Seaford, a partner in the walk/run project, said he was especially pleased to take part in the dedication for Coach Morris. Proceeds from the event will benefit restoration of trail markers and maintenance and upkeep of future endeavors. A kiosk, provided by Ken Covey of Covey's Car Care, was dedicated and will be used to list events and provide information on the trail. Coach Rob Perciful gave the speech dedicating the trail now designated "The Vince Morris Trail at Chapel Branch." Morris was, for 16 years, his friend and inspiration, Perciful said. "I celebrated his victories and mourned his loss. He was passionate about this place. He hauled me in here with weapons of mass destruction – like chain saws... The general public who come here will not have a clue who he was, but when they get here [and experience the place] they will say, 'If someone thought enough about him to name a place this beautiful after him, he must have been quite a guy.'" Perciful then fired a signal to start the 5k walk/run.

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