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March 13, 2014

Area woman celebrates 104 years of life

Athens — Eugenia “Gene” York Morton was born in the Pleasant Glade community in Van Zandt Country in the area that is now Purtis Creek State Park.

The sixth of the eight children born to Charles Nathan York, a broom maker and Jessine Elizabeth Marshall, Genie moved to the Big Rock area when she was about 8-years-old.

According to Genie, her mother, Jessine, was one of the happiest people in the world, and she loved her husband, Charles Nathan York, dearly. Her parents’ home was filled with music and dancing.

Genie fondly remembers moving the furniture in her home to make way for weekly dances held there. This love of dancing has followed her throughout her life. At 104, she still loves dancing.

An accomplished young woman, Genie was told that she could not be both the Valedictorian of her senior class and the lead in the school play, so the thespian chose the play, and became the Salutatorian of Eustace High School class of 1928.

Upon graduation, she had several local friends attending North Texas State Teachers College in Denton. Although she had wanted to be a gospel singer, this was during the depression, and she did not know what she was going to do with a music degree.

She chose to come back home, but her lifelong love of music lead her to take piano lessons well into her 70s.

Life changed for Genie when her brother, James Haslam York, introduced his handsome and good friend, Jesse Myron Morton, to his beautiful sister. They were married in the mid-1930s in the Eustace home of Preacher Williford.  The two worked hard farming and raising cattle.

They did not have much money, but they were rewarded with a greater gift – eight wonderful children: Garth York, Dallas; Barbara Morton Christopher, Irving; Jerry Myron Morton, Eustace; James Larry Morton, Eustace; Dr. John Michael Morton, Athens; Jack Henry Morton, Omaha, Texas; Charlene Morton Irvin, Port Aransas; and Just Rusty Morton, deceased.

The two loved their farm and their family. They taught their children the value of hard work and good education. Their 46-year marriage lasted until the death of Jesse in 1981. Together, they had 18 grandchildren, 20 great-grandchildren and four great - great-grandchildren.

As the matriarch of the York/Morton family, for many, many years, Genie opened her home every week for large Sunday dinners. She did this to bring her family together and keep them close. Countless meals were served in her home to her children, her siblings, her nephews and nieces, grandchildren, great-grandchildren and great - great-grandchildren.

Friends who wanted to share in the meal were welcomed as family. Genie always ate last, after making sure that all her family and friends had plenty to eat. Everyone could always count on love, laughter and wonderful food.

Genie has been known for so many things over the years. She is the maker of delicious wild-plum jelly, a beautiful  seamstress who can outfit an entire wedding, and adventurous traveler whose bags are always packed and ready to go, a very serious 42 player, a dancer and a woman so happy and content with herself that she will tell you she is never lonely.  To know her is to want to be just like her.

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