Morris Dees Jr. had a lot going for him. His parents had high expectations
for him as a boy who graduated as valedictorian from his junior high
school. His parents, especially his father had high hopes for him to
acquire and accomplish a better life than he himself had known.
But Morris Dees didn't necessarily want to go down that path. Religion
had always been a part of his life. His family helped build the Pike
Road Baptist Church which he attended frequently. He wanted to preach.
He thought about being a preacher as a young teenager. And throughout
much of his life, he at least wanted to preach part time.
Morris was also a farmer. As a small boy he had delivered papers. He
had picked bottles of cola off Pike Road and turned them in at the corner
store for change. He saved all this money up until he had enough money
to purchase a bull. He purchased a bull from a neighbor and bred it
with one of his father's bulls. Then he fattened them up and sold them.
Soon he had more money. As he had more money, he also bred and sold
pigs and chickens. By senior year, he was dressing 250 chickens a week
and earning himself nearly $5000 a year. He worked at his business very
diligently rising often before dawn to feed the animals. At the time.
Pigs weighing up to 80 pounds were sold for five dollars. He fattened
them up to over 210 pounds and sold them for forty-five dollars. And
he did this all for free. During his lunch break, he went over the cafeteria
and collected four fifty-gallon barrels of scraps from the lunchroom.
The staff allowed him to take the scraps so long as he returned the
barrels clean the next morning, which he did.
High School Sweetheart
In September 1954, Morris Dees Jr. entered his senior year of high school.
He had chosen to go to a vocational school instead with less academic
courses despite his academic talent. That year, a girl named Beverly
Crum entered her sophomore year of high school. She was a slender girl
dressed with a blouse and skirt topped off with a black pony tail. She
had come from Kentucky where her relatives owned a horse ranch. Her
father was a colonel in Air War College which meant a lot of moving
for the family. Beverly and Morris shared something in common, their
love for the farm. From the first time they meant next to a radiator,
they adored each other. After a few dates, Morris brought her over to
Mount Meigs and introduced her to his parents. She was amazed at their
farm and wanted one of her own. And most of all, she wanted roots. The
Dees approved of her.