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Dr. James K. Morrison

Deceased: 2021-06-12


Seminary Graduation Year: 1963

James K. Morrison died on his 51st wedding anniversary on Saturday, June 12, 2021, while his beloved wife was holding his hand. He was 83. A well-known clinical psychologist in the Capital District, he was also well-respected internationally. The author of over 100 articles in professional journals, he regularly received postcards (with interesting stamps!) from graduate students around the world requesting copies of his doctoral dissertation in pre-internet days. For many years, he was a featured speaker and panelist presenting research papers at the American Psychological Association’s annual Convention held in various cities. In 1979, he edited “A Consumer Approach to Community Psychology,” a book analyzing this approach in the Capital District, with numerous contributors from the Capital District Psychiatric Center, the University at Albany, Siena College, the Veteran’s Administration Hospital, and Albany Medical College. He also authored chapters in 15 books authored by other professionals.

Dr. Morrison was born on January 5, 1938, in Plattsburgh, N.Y., to T. Harry Morrison and Emma Goodhart Morrison. He received his B.A. from St. Bonaventure University in 1959. From 1959-1963, he studied in Europe, receiving his S.J.B. and S.T.L. from the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome, Italy. His European educational and traveling experiences made him fluent in Italian and German, with reading fluency in Latin, Greek, and Hebrew. He could get around nicely in Spanish and French as well and had a deep knowledge and appreciation of European art, having been surrounded by classical architecture for years and having visited numerous museums and churches. He developed a love for classical music and a passion for opera.

He came to the capital district in 1969, to accept a doctoral fellowship at SUNY Albany’s then new clinical psychology department, receiving his Ph.D. in 1972. He began his career as a psychologist with the Capital District Psychiatric Center upon completion of his clinical internship there in 1972, and went into private practice in his own firm, James K. Morrison, Ph.D., P.C., in Latham, in 1977. He was still counseling clients five days a week when he was taken ill on May 11, 2019. He taught psychology courses at Russell Sage College and Albany Medical College and conducted workshops around the U.S. and Canada on a type of psychology he called “Emotive-Reconstructive Therapy” and other clinical topics. In his research he created a number of clinical measures used by others in their research.

He lived in the Town of Westerlo, near the hamlet of Dormansville, where upon arrival he painted the exterior of the 1861 house and then moved inside to panel walls and lay carpet. Then he built, modified and enlarged several small barns for horses and their hay. He crafted and put up countless birdhouses. He planted numerous fruit trees and dogwoods, to the delight of the local deer population, until he changed tactics and planted many beautiful peonies, which were blooming when he died. He was an avid gardener for years who made a terrific tomato sauce. He enjoyed snowmobiling in the woods and fields accompanied by the family’s dogs but he did not enjoy snow blowing. He enjoyed the New York Yankees and rooted loyally for the Jets. As a boy, he rooted for the Pittsburgh Pirates, whose radio signal was strong enough to reach Plattsburgh. He was an avid golfer, tennis player, and softball player for years and thoroughly enjoyed playing high school football and baseball at St John’s Academy in Plattsburgh. He vacationed for many years in Europe, the Caribbean, Hawaii, California, and the Rocky Mountains.

He is survived by his wife, Kathleen Liston Morrison, of the home address; and their son, Brian James Morrison, of New York City. The birth of his son in 1986, profoundly affected Jim. He was present for Brian’s birth and never stopped marveling at this gift of new life and the thrill of watching him grow, learn, and mature. Some of Jim’s happiest moments were spent at graduations and throwing batting practice to Brian in the horse pasture, taking bus trips together to championship games at Yankee Stadium, visiting the Grand Canyon and Meteor Crater in Arizona, and being present at a Space Shuttle launch in Florida when Brian was in middle school. Jim is survived also by his sister, Janice Clermont, of Plattsburgh; and his brother, Tom (Mary) of Westmere, N.Y.; and many loving and kind nieces and nephews. He is also survived by his sisters-in-law, Joan Morrison of Plattsburgh, N.Y. and Sister Frances Liston, RDC, of Goshen, N.Y.. He was predeceased by his sisters, Evelyn Greenleaf of Plattsburgh and Dorothy Pirro, of Scotia, N.Y.; and his brother, Robert Morrison, of Wappingers Falls, N.Y.

He was ill for two years but for most of it was able to get around the house on his own and out to the porch early in the morning, watch the sun come up, enjoy the hummingbirds, orioles, barn swallows, bluebirds, and the occasional bald eagle, and read lengthy nonfiction, usually military history or biographies, until the last month. During his early married years he had birded at Hawk Mountain in Pennsylvania and Derby Hill near Lake Ontario. His dear brother Tom was so helpful to him throughout his life (it was Tom’s suggestion to look into the new psychology program at the University in 1969) and especially during his final illness, with visits, sports updates, family news, donut and coffee treats, good cheer and love right up to the end. His dear sister Janice was unable to visit but was always available by phone for good conversation, love, and helpful tips from her extensive nursing experience. The family wishes to express its gratitude for the tender, helpful, comforting and highly professional care provided to him by nurses, Tammy Ryan and Kim Vogelsang. The family also wishes to express gratitude to the Town of Westerlo Ambulance crew and the Albany County Sheriff’s Emergency Medical Services Unit who provided timely, courteous, gentle, and professional services on several occasions. In addition, Jim’s life was made easier and safer by speedy assistance at crucial times from neighbors, Deana and Dan O’Hare and David and Heidi Atkinson, for which we are deeply grateful.

A memorial service will be private. Memorial contributions may be made to a charity, organization, or group of your choice. Arrangements by A.J. Cunningham Funeral Home, Greenville. Condolence page is available at