Contra Costa Times Article

By Chris Treadway
Contra Costa Times

Posted: 04/16/2010 09:05:06 PM PDT
Updated: 04/17/2010 12:45:39 PM PDT
Reprinted by permission of Chris Treadway, CoCo Times

The influence James "Jim" Morehouse had on the El Cerrito High School community is evident in the outpouring of admiration and memories from generations of students and staff since his death this month at age 73.
While "site supervisor" was his official job title, he played a much larger role at the campus where he dedicated himself for 35 years.
"He was the heart and soul of the school community," said Jenn Rader, director of the school's health center, which in January was officially renamed the James Morehouse Project. "Before they had a school health center, he was the health center. So many people were lifted up by his help and his care."
A memorial service and celebration will be held Monday at the Richmond Memorial Auditorium to honor Morehouse, who died April 7.
Five former principals attended the January renaming celebration for Morehouse, who was known as a mentor, role model, confidante and peacemaker at the school. The ex-principals included Mike Aaronian, who first met Morehouse as an El Cerrito High student and recalled him as "an institution, an icon."
"Regardless of the situation, he always had a calming influence on people," Aaronian said. "He was always a gentleman. He always had positive things to say."
Former El Cerrito coach Steve Werren also met Morehouse as a student and said "he has been like a second father to me."
Like many students before and since, Werren found guidance during a troubling time.
"My dad passed away, and he helped me through that. He was there any time I had a personal crisis in my life," Werren said. "He could brighten your day no matter what. Every kid at that school felt like they could go to him."
Morehouse was born in July 1936 in Lake Providence, La., came to Richmond in 1963 and began working for the Richmond Unified School District in 1964.
He became the site supervisor at El Cerrito High in 1968 and was a fixture on the campus until his retirement in 2002. That included being at every campus event, particularly athletic contests.
"Every rally, every game, every activity in the evening, he was there," Rader said.
Aaronian noted that for five years running, Morehouse accompanied a class of special education students on trips to locales such as Monterey and Yosemite, adding, "He was just always there for the kids. He didn't ask for anything extra, but he always gave."
Even after retiring in 2002, Morehouse remained a presence until last year at the school, where he and his wife, Oveida, sent three of their four sons.
James and Oveida Morehouse have also been active members of Rock of Ages Missionary Baptist Church in San Pablo for 45 years.
Morehouse is survived by his wife; sons James, Les, Paul and Darnell; and one grandson.