Paul “Mr. Drake” Morrison
There’s something truly special about the Drake experience—ask anyone. For Drake legend Paul Morrison, JO’39, also known as “Mr. Drake,” that experience has lasted nearly 70 years. The 96-year-old’s family ties to the University go back to 1902 when his parents were students; 14 members of the family have since earned degrees from Drake. With questions submitted online by alumni, we sat down with Mr. Drake—in his museum-like office on campus, where he still shows up every day to volunteer—to learn about his longtime love affair with Drake University.
Jenna DeLong, JO’11: Dear Mr. Drake (aka DU’s MVP), how many different jobs have you held with the University over your tenure?
I went on the payroll at Drake on Dec. 15, 1945. I was hired as the first full-time director of the news bureau. A few months later, I was appointed to the position of athletics business manager and later served as the sports information director. Now I’ve retired, but I’m a full-time volunteer. I like to say I’ve had a longtime love affair with Drake University. I don’t know what I would do if I didn’t come to work every day. I feel good knowing that I get things done that wouldn’t get done otherwise.
Terri Seibert Holmgren, ED’72, GR’96: Hey, Paul, what is the most exciting sports moment in your career?
I suppose when we went to the Final Four. Had a great game with UCLA. I think that’s probably it. I’ve had a lot of them, so it’s hard. I used to say I refuse to answer that question, but you don’t go to the Final Four very often. We actually went to three straight NCAA regionals during that time with Maury John, the coach.
Troy Sheets, BN’00: Who is your favorite Drake basketball player?
That’s one of those questions I refuse to answer. There’s been too many. I answered that question for somebody else a few years ago, and when I came back to check what I had said, I forgot Dolph Pulliam! That’s what you do; you forget to mention people. We’ve had a lot of them. I really can’t name a favorite.
Alissa Johnson Tripas, JO’91: Mr. Morrison, what is it about your Drake experience that continues to inspire you to support our great institution?
Great student body and great faculty and staff. We’re large enough to have everything you need, small enough to allow students to know each other and their professors. We don’t have 400 kids sitting in a classroom or listening to a lecture. It’s the intimacy of the entire campus and student body.
Cody Austin, AS’13: What’s the secret to a happy and meaningful life?
I love people. That’s the best answer I know. I’ve been very lucky to have a lot of friendships over the years. I’m proud of that. And—I’m speaking egotistically now—a lot of the former players, coaches, and former staff come back to campus to stop in and say hello, and that makes me feel good. To know I have had a good relationship with them.
If Walls Could Talk
- Paul Morrison, “Mr. Drake” himself
- Jack Wallace, former football coach
- Bob Ortegel, former basketball coach
- “Bus” Mertes, former football coach
- Lynn King, former athletic director
- Millard “Bill” Easton, former track and cross-country coach and director of Drake Relays
- Bob Ehrhart, former track and cross-country coach and director of Drake Relays
- Lonnie Clark, former head athletic trainer
- Betty Miles, former tennis coach and women’s athletic director
- Morrison in a holiday photo with all of the women working in athletics at the time.
- Paul’s 500th Drake Football Game on September 9, 1995.
- A photo at a celebration to honor Ben Mankowski, former athletic trainer. Mankowski is in the dark coat. The other man pictured is Bob Karnes, former head track and field coach, athletic director and Drake Relays director.
- A piece of track from Drake Stadium before it was renovated in 2006.
- Jim Duncan, Drake Relays announcer, former professor and head of radio and TV department for many years.
- Tom Deckard, former track coach and director of Drake Relays
- Bob Ortegel, former basketball coach pictured with Al McCoy, Drake alumnus and former “Voice of the Phoenix Suns.”
- Drake Basketball team 2003-2004
- Bert McGrane, former reporter for the Des Moines Register who covered the Drake Relays for years.
- From left to right: Ted Payseur, Drake alumnus and former athletic director at Northwestern; Ike Armstrong, Drake alumnus and former athletic director at the University of Minnesota; William J. “ W.J.” Monilaw, one of the very first athletics staff members at Drake—he received his degree in 1903; Frank “Bucky” O’Connor, Drake alumnus and former basketball coach at University of Iowa; Paul Brechler, Drake alumnus and former athletic director at the University of Iowa.
- Warren Gaer, former football coach, between former co-captains—Tom Newell (left) and Garland Seibert (right).
- “Red” Murrelll, former basketball player and record holder
- Willie McCarter, former basketball player—one of the most outstanding Drake basketball players of all time. McCarter later played for the Lakers.
- Paul and the Drake football team celebrating a victory.
- Walter O’Connor, former basketball player