Dick and Eleanor Morrell in the living room of their home in Brunswick. Photo Thalassa Raasch/MaineCF

Dick and Eleanor Morrell are true champions of education. A Brunswick native and successful businessman – he and his family owned Downeast Energy – Dick has been devoted to his alma mater, Bowdoin, where he is trustee emeritus. “Education is vital to society,” he says.

Eleanor, who grew up in New Britain, Connecticut, has been equally committed to supporting the University of New England, which she attended when it was Westbrook Junior College. She praises the leadership of former UNE Presidents Sandra Featherman and Danielle Ripich, pointing to the expansion of the health education programs, including pharmacy and dental schools, and opening a campus in Tangiers, Morocco.

The Morrells come from modest backgrounds. “My parents and Eleanor’s parents didn’t have all that much money, but they were generous with what they had and active in the community,” Dick notes. “They set a good example.”

The couple love their community and have been generous in their support of local and regional nonprofits, from Mid Coast Hospital in Brunswick to the Maine State Theater, making use of their donor-advised fund at the foundation. “We’re in a position to be helpful to a lot of organizations through the Maine Community Foundation,” says Dick.

Their support goes beyond the financial. Eleanor volunteers at the hospital every week, working at the café. For many years she also has helped to organize the annual Grand and Glorious Yard Sale, a major fundraiser for the hospital.

The Morrells have the community foundation in their will to provide permanent ongoing support for the causes they care about, to continue their philanthropy with the help of their children, and help address future issues in Maine. “We certainly couldn’t do it on our own,” says Eleanor. Adds Dick: “It makes us feel more comfortable if our legacy is being done thoughtfully and professionally – this is the business way to do it.”

 

When Senator George Mitchell addressed the audience at the Maine Community Foundation’s Inspiring Philanthropy evening at USM’s Hannaford Hall in 2012, he started by acknowledging several individuals. High on his list was the Morrell family. He explained how he worked his way through Bowdoin College as an employee of Brunswick Coal and Lumber. “I really owe my college education to the Morrell family business,” Mitchell said. They are, he added, “one of the most wonderful families I have ever met.”
Photo Dennis Welsh, courtesy Mitchell Institute

- Carl Little