Ashley Johnson | Times-Journal Veteran of the y: Clifford Morrison, 75, was surrounded by family and friends as he was recognized by the YMCA of Selma for his 50-year membership and veteran participation in the aquatics programs. --Ashley Johnson
Ashley Johnson | Times-Journal
Veteran of the y: Clifford Morrison, 75, was surrounded by family and friends as he was recognized by the YMCA of Selma for his 50-year membership and veteran participation in the aquatics programs. --Ashley Johnson

YMCA of Selma celebrates most devoted member

Published 7:52pm Thursday, March 7, 2013

For the last 50 years Clifford Morrison, 75, has worn a swimsuit to the YMCA of Selma, but Thursday he was wheeled in wearing a suit and tie.

With his hands curled slightly because of his cerebral palsy, Morrison grinned while YMCA executive director Bill Porter presented him with a plaque that recognized him for being a member of the YMCA for 50 years now in Selma. And in all 50 of those years the pool at the new facility as well as the Paul Grist YMCA, was one place that Morrison loved to go to, “be able to just move around,” Morrison said.

“You mean a lot to the YMCA and I know the YMCA means a lot to you,” Porter told Morrison who was surrounded by family and friends. “So we want to put this plaque in the swimming area because that is your area.”

The plaque had a picture of Morrison in his very own inner tube — one that is specifically reserved for Morrison every time he swims — and stated, “In honor of Clifford P. Morrison January 8, 2013, a veteran of YMCA aquatics and an example of YMCA mentality.”

This to which Morrison quickly quipped that the photo on the plaque was taken at the old YMCA, and the whole poolside laughed.

“They call him the CEO, or Crazy Eccentric Officer, “because wherever he is, he is the boss,” Inge Bergeron joked about Morrison.

Bergeron has been taking Morrison to the pool for the last 15 years and each week he bicycles through the water and mingles with whoever is there, Bergeron said. Morrison added in the 50 years of swimming, more than 40 employees of the YMCA over the years have helped him in and out of the pools. The YMCA pool facility actually has handicap accessible lifts due in part to Morrison, who ordered them when the new facility was built.

“He also has his own inner tube we keep for him and it’s his — nobody else can use it — but I’m sure he would share if someone needed,” lifeguard Teal Cabe said.

Those who came to the reception laughed about memories when Morrison had crossed the street and caused traffic problems while wheeling across Dallas Avenue. Others recalled the first time he went swimming in his uncle’s pool at age eight, where he fell in love with swimming.

Once when the YMCA needed to train lifeguards to pull disabled people out of the water — Morrison volunteered himself as a victim.

“How many laps have you done here, Clifford, that’s what I want to know,” Morrison’s cousin Nancy Bennett asked. “Clifford and the word ‘Y’ are just synonymous. People associate the two together.”

Morrison said his favorite part of swimming weekly is, “being able to just move around and meet new people he would not have otherwise met.”

And when asked what his least favorite part of swimming, was he had no answer, probably because Bergeron said, “He has never complained in the 15 years I have known him.”

To which he replied, “I do complain just to other people and not you.”

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