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Morley L. Piper

Morley L. Piper of 52 Lufkin Point Road, Essex, passed away on May 12, 2022 at Lahey Medical Center in Peabody. He had been fighting increasingly hard to manage age related health problems with the same stoicism and humility he demonstrated throughout his life; in the end he let go peacefully with the family who adored him by his side. For his loved ones, friends, and colleagues, he was a legend whose legacy will not be forgotten. 

Born October 18, 1924, in Canton Illinois, he came up an only child in the hard days of the Depression. His mother was a teacher in a rural one-room schoolhouse and inspired in him a lifelong commitment to education, hard work and devotion to family. He was forced to abandon his dream of a college degree after two years when the United States entered World War II and he enlisted in the army. But he was a loyal alumnus of Illinois College all during his life and always knew the latest basketball team scores. 

Loyalty was one of Morley’s defining traits. He was fiercely devoted to his family and kept lifelong friends close. He was stalwart, determined, ambitious, brave, and had a unique brand of humor. In some ways he was at his best when life presented the most difficult challenges; leadership was another of his hallmarks. 

The war years spent in France marked him forever. A decorated Army 2nd lieutenant who fought in Normandy and Eastern France, he was a true patriot and proudly marched in every Memorial Day Parade in Essex. On his many trips over the years back to France he always made a solemn visit to the Normandy American Cemetery in Colleville.

Morley developed a love of Paris and France and kept a service position with the U.S. Army at war’s end. There he met his match in a high-spirited young Polish woman, Wanda Woleyko. Wanda was a Red Cross “girl” working in a recreational center for army servicemen called Rainbow Corner in the 8th arrondissement. They were married in Paris and returned to the United States to start their life together in Hamilton in 1947. They were married for sixty-nine years, had two children Patricia and Jonathan, and had made homes in Hamilton, Salem and Essex. 

An interest in journalism led Morley to found a local newspaper, the Hamilton Wenham Chronicle, in 1949; from there he navigated to the Boston Globe where he harbored dreams of becoming a star reporter. However, young and hungry, he seized the first job opportunity available, which was in the Globe advertising department, and he was off and running. The newspaper industry would become his passion and career for life, although he never got that byline. A dear friend and colleague wrote upon his passing: “If heaven’s Gazette has a church page, they have found their greatest salesman.” (It was an in-joke that Morley suggested selling ads on newspaper church pages to help the papers survive as print journalism began to wain.) 

From the Globe, Morley went on to lead the New England Newspaper Association (NENA) as Executive Director for some 45 years also serving as clerk for Newspaper Association Managers (NAM) for 22 years. He thrived in that environment; he loved the energy, the buzz, the…gossip. His offices were in Boston, later Salem, and in “retirement” at the old Salem News building in Beverly. In the heyday of print journalism, Morley travelled the country organizing or attending newspaper conventions, seminars, training programs. He was a leader and an educator, could warm up a room quickly with a perfectly articulated wry joke, and made friends everywhere he went. People sought his advice and guidance, and he was always happy to “put in a word” to help someone advance their career. He earned more awards and accolades than possible to mention, which he would not have liked to publicize. 

He was trusted, loved and admired for his knowledge, work ethic, quiet kindness, vast generosity, and sometimes smarting sense of humor. He had a nickname for most everyone, whether they knew it or not. (Profumo, Quag, Muldoon, Lunesta, Bow tie, Eljunia…. Are your ears ringing?) 

After newspapers, Morley loved old-time Dixieland jazz, all the beloved family pets, architectural treasures of old movie theatres, popcorn, vanilla ice cream, the best classic restaurants. Or a catfish fry in Illinois. He took a keen interest in politics at every level, a “yellow dog” democrat who usually voted the “straight ticket.” He could always be counted on to defend and help the underdog. 

Morley’s marriage to Wanda was as vibrant and colorful as it was long. They enjoyed city-living in Salem, and later the calmer backwaters of Lufkin Point in Essex. Wanda’s Polish roots had a large impact, and their homes were always filled with people from all walks of life.

Their son Jonathan predeceased them in 2008, a great sorrow and his wife Wanda passed in 2015. Morley soldiered on.  He travelled whenever he could to newspaper gatherings and looked on in dismay and shock at the dramatic decline of print newspapers. 

He is survived by his daughter, Patricia Robert of Essex; two granddaughters, Laura Robert of Essex and Audrey Robert Ramirez and her husband Axel Ramirez-Palacio; two great-grandchildren, Camille Piper and Lorenzo Maximiliano all of Arlington; a niece, Priscilla Koster of Ipswich and her husband Walter, and his wonderful caregiver, Jane Rose Sweet of Gloucester. His gentle companion in later years, cat Taz, died a few days before Morley. 

No one ever loved his family more; “Medrick” (he had a nickname too!) adored each one and gave to them his whole heart his whole life. His legacy of love, generosity, kindness, strength, perseverance, and humor will be everlasting. He left the world a better place, and he is no doubt “putting in a word” for us in the stars.  

It really is the end of the era with the loss of Morley, one of the very best from a remarkable generation.

Moments after learning of her grandfather’s death, his granddaughter Laura played Taps from her laptop. 


In accordance with Morley’s wishes, there are no formal services. For those who wish to do so, memorial contributions in his name may be made to: Cape Ann Animal Aid (https://www.capeannanimalaid.org), The Open Door (https://www.foodpantry.org), or the Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation (https://www.christopherreeve.org). Arrangements are under the direction of the Whittier-Porter Funeral Home of Ipswich.


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