His forte was swordfishing, earning him the nickname Dr. Sword in 1978 when he caught two fish in four days; in recent years he and his family have been instrumental in the success of the Make-A-Wish Tournament and was an ardent supporter of fishing and fisheries
SAN DIEGO — Martin Leon Morris, M.D. , known as Marty to friends and family and fellow fishermen, quietly passed away in his sleep on July 11, 2012, at the age of 82. Born Oct. 27, 1929 in Chicago, Dr. Morris was graduated from Von Steuben High School and received a B.S. in Liberal Sciences from the University of Illinois. He received his medical degree in 1955 and, while completing his residency in orthopedic surgery at the Northwestern/Cook County Hospital, was drafted by the U.S. Air Force during the Korean War. He served as a physician at March AFB in California. In 1963, he established a thriving orthopedic surgery practice in the San Fernando Valley; the following year, through close friends, Marty met his future wife, Carolyn Myers.
Morris is survived by his wife of 47 years, Carolyn. He was the proud father of sons Kenneth, San Diego; Daniel, Chicago; and daughter Melody, San Diego; older brother to Alan (also an orthopedic surgeon), St. Louis; and grandfather to Noah, Jenna and Amelia.
After moving to California, Marty became an avid fisherman, fishing from the family’s boat, Ken-Dan, for 35 years.
His passion for the sport was reflected in his advocacy for the recognition of billfish to be tagged and released, as well that a 12-pound class be recognized in local billfish tournaments and fishing clubs' annual awards.
To say neither idea initially had support would be an understatement. Many Southern California anglers opposed Marty's visionary ideas vehemently, arguing that lighter tackle was impractical and that the survival rate of billfish was almost nil.
Undeterred, Marty wrote letters and attended meetings, never doubting the importance of his beliefs. Slowly, both ideas took hold. Los Angeles Billfish Club, of which Marty was a member, was one of the first to include a 12-pound category in their Catalina Tournament. The first fish caught on 12-pound was on John Crean's Prowler 76, proving that not only was lighter tackle feasible, it could be accomplished from a large boat. Others clubs followed.
It's hard to imagine how many billfish have survived because of Marty's tenacity for tag and release.
Marty's love for offshore fishing was manifested by his willingness to check out any rumor . . . in season or not. This allowed him and his beloved Ken-Dan to claim the following place in West Coast History:
During the 34 years Marty fished the Ken-Dan, his was the only boat to have caught a marlin in eight out of the 12 calendar months – July through Feb. On Feb. 1, 1984, Marty and son Ken caught what they believe is the only marlin ever landed in the month of February in Southern California. (He took Ken out of school for the day to help run the boat all night from Marina Del Rey to 10 miles off Pyramid Cove).
Marty also managed to land an albacore on the Ken-Dan in nine of the calendar months – from May through Jan. If Marty thought there was a shot at catching fish, he was there!
After retiring from his private orthopedic surgery practice in the San Fernando Valley in 1997, he and Carolyn resided in San Diego County. Marty provided orthopedic care to the underserved at his son Kenneth’s community health center and to veterans at the VA hospital. At the time of his passing, Marty was the oldest active medical staff member of the VA.
Recently, Marty was an avid supporter of, and volunteer for the Make-A-Wish Foundation and its Tuna Challenge. Just days prior to his passing, he enjoyed one last fishing trip with his long-time friend Harry Okuda.
A memorial celebration of life service will be held at the San Diego Marlin Club, 2445 Shelter Island Drive, San Diego on Sun., July 22 at 9 a.m. with a private burial at sea in the near future.
In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations to the Make-A-Wish Foundation-San Diego, 2440 Hotel Circle North, Suite 200, San Diego, CA 92018.
There is a website on Marty www.ken-dan.com It chronicles his fishing endeavors from 1969-2010.