Meet Gerry Morrell, founder of Morrell Printing, one of the oldest family businesses in Lafayette. Through the years he has been an active voice in the development of the town we all love and enjoy today. And until a few years ago he has also been your local Fire Chief for over 20 years!
Thank you Gerry for your service, your forward thinking for future generations, and commitment to family.
Q: What inspired you to led you to start Morrell Printing?
A: I went to Boulder Valley Technical Center during my last two years of high school for Graphic Communication and Applied Arts. I received a 2-year certificate in the program, but at the time nobody would hire an 18-year old photographer. However, I had the background in graphic arts and had learned how to operate the presses, so it was easy for me to get a job as a printer.
I was married at 18 with a kid and went to work at the University of Colorado in their printing shop, that was in the stadium. That was in 1970, which was the time of Vietnam. They had changed the draft sequence to be a lottery and in 1971 my number came up. It was either get drafted or join the Air Force. So, I joined the Air Force and took their skills test to bypass all of their training, which allowed me to go to directly into printing. Even while I was in the military, I was thinking about having my own business. I got out in March of 1975, and resumed work at the University of Colorado. Then in September of 1975, I decided to open my own printing business.
At the same time of opening my printing business, I joined the volunteer Fire Department, which kind of led me into two careers. I was a volunteer fire fighter for many years. Then around 2000, the city was looking to hire a full time Fire Chief, so I applied for and got the job, retired from printing, and became the Fire Chief of City of Lafayette for the last 20 years.
I was also an avid fly fisherman and within that same time I opened Two Guys Fly Shop with John Happs, who was another volunteer fire fighter. We ran the shop together and offered classes for nearly 10 years.
Q: How long have you lived or worked in Lafayette/Louisville?
A: I was born in Derby (which is now encompassed in Commerce City) and I moved here to Lafayette in 1964. I was about 12 years old, so I’ve seen it all. I graduated from Lafayette High School.
Q: What is your favorite restaurant in Lafayette/Louisville?
A: It would be Senor Gomez Restaurant or Efrains Mexican Restaurant. My wife, Janet, and I love Mexican food.
Q: If you could travel anywhere in the world right now, where would it be? And why?
A: I want to go back to Alaska. It’s a wildlife photographer’s dream. I also have a brother in law who lives there who’s a pilot which is a nice thing for getting into remote areas. (To view some of Gerry’s photography click here to his FB page.)
Q: What is your favorite movie? What is the first movie you remember seeing in a theater?
A: My wife hates it, but my favorite is Blazing Saddles or maybe Young Frankenstein, ha-ha. Either one of those two is absolutely my favorite, Mel Brooks is just a genius. The first movie in a theatre was 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea. My mom took me and my brother to downtown Denver, dropped us at the movie theater, and said she’ll be back later to pick us up. I remember that not just because of the movie, but because after the show we went out to meet our mom and didn’t see her… so we went back and watched the movie 3 times! We were in sooo much trouble with her!!
Q: What advice would you give to a crowd of people?
A: Quit taking life so seriously. Everybody is so involved with so many different things. People need to slow down a little bit, take a deep breath and say, “I got this, the world’s not going to end tomorrow if I don’t do something.” Too many people take too many things seriously and you’ve got to take life as it comes right now instead of thinking so much about what you need to do tomorrow.
Q: What is something on your bucket list?
A: I’ve been able to do a million things in my life, so I’m not sure. It’d probably be to take my grandkids to Africa. To see the wildlife, experience the culture and people, and show them how our bubble isn’t the same as other peoples’ bubble and the difference in how people live.
Q: What is your favorite music or three bands that you would like to see (dead or alive)?
A: I really like Motown Music. When I was in high school I played guitar in a rock band. We were kind of an eclectic band and mostly played either Motown or that of bluesy 60’s sound of music.
Q: What current or former local business makes you the most nostalgic about Lafayette/Louisville?
A: Of course the Lafayette Florist. Then there’s Anspach’s Jewelry, Stan’s Automotive, and us – Morrell Printing. We are the four oldest businesses here in Lafayette. But, there are a number of family businesses that I miss that nobody knows about.
Q: If you could choose anyone (dead or alive) and not a relative with whom would you love to have lunch? Why? And where locally would you meet for lunch?
A: A dead guy, Ansel Adams. I’d obviously take him to Senor Gomez! I’ve spent so many years in the dark room (today’s dark room is a digital dark room) and he was a master of it. For example, his photo “Moonrise Over Hernandez,” he manipulated the original so much doing all these different things to make the photograph come out to what we now see. If you were to buy an original Ansel Adams photograph that he printed, it’s hundred of thousands of dollars.
Q: What is your favorite thing or something unique about Lafayette/Louisville?
A: It’s so big and so different now, but I think our main street is a little unique. I like the different things that we have around town like Waneka Lake. Most people don’t know that it was originally “Plant Lake” because the boathouse was the location of the power plant in the early 1900’s. We also have really great open space. I was on the city council for eight years and we tried to get open space as much as we could. I’m not opposed to growth, but I’d like to see it be smart growth.
Q: (Even for friends or family), what is something interesting that most people don’t know about you?
A: I had a twin brother, he passed away 20 years ago. He was a volunteer firefighter with me and then later moved to Cheyenne where he was quite the cowboy.
Q: What 3 words or phrases come to mind when you think of the word HOME?
A: Family, Security, and Community. Family really extends beyond just immediate children and family members, and into that sense of community.
Q: If you were cast into a major motion picture and had your choice of anyone to be your co-star, who would you choose?
A: I love cowboy stuff, so I’d say John Wayne.
Q: If you had a full-time staff member that is fully paid for, who would you choose? Driver, Nanny, Personal Trainer, Chef, or anything you want.
A: My wife and I will both agree – to have a cook.
Q: Is there something that you could add that would benefit or add value to the community, what do you think would that be?
A: I would tell people that when building businesses or building homes, ensure that you think about quality as opposed to quantity. Quality business will last forever. When I speak about something that’s for a long term plan of 30, 40 or 50 years, it’s not for me. It’s for my kids, my grandkids and my great grandkids. You build for the future, not just for right now.