Alicia Maureen Willard Morphew passed away peacefully on the evening of August 16th, 2023, at home on Whidbey Island, Washington, after a short illness. Many tears have been shed since her passing. She died the way she lived, bravely and determinedly, in the arms of her beloved husband of 52 years, Karol Morphew, with her sister Christi and her niece Marli close by.
Alicia was born on March 9, 1941 in Shelby, Nebraska. She was the daughter of Guadalupe Ramos Ortiz and Winfield Wayne Willard. She was a beauty, due to the wonderful combination of her Mexican Mother and Irish Father. She grew up in Kansas, Nebraska, and ultimately Golden, Colorado.
Alicia was a highly accomplished woman. She was the mother of 5 children. She graduated from Colorado Women’s College with a degree in Political Science, at a time when it was unusual for women to be in that field of study. She was a gifted cook and seamstress. She was very curious and read voraciously. She loved learning and applying new skills and abilities, always confident that she just didn’t know something “yet,” but was fully capable of developing the understanding necessary to accomplish her aims. She was blessed with both intellectual and emotional strength, giving her the unique ability both to comprehend the information she was given and assess how best to apply it.
While attending college, Alicia met a tall, handsome and brilliant man named Karol Morphew. In 1971, she married him and they embarked on a life of adventure! In 1979 they bought a sailboat and christened it “Karalicia.” Together they sailed on this 43’ boat from Seattle down the west coast of the US, Mexico, and across the Pacific Ocean to Hawaii. They continued their voyage to Alaska, then South again down the Inland Passage to Seattle.
They lived aboard Karalicia for 10 years.
Their love story progressed from the open sea to the open road, when in 1989 they bought a 33’ diesel bus, which had been converted into a home on wheels. It was complete with everything they needed to travel extensively–to nearly every state in the US, parts of Canada, and Mexico. After seven years of life on the road, they were ready for a new adventure.
Lured by the lush beauty of the Puget Sound, they bought 10 acres of land on Whidbey Island, in Washington state, and set about a 5-year plan of building a house. They rolled up their sleeves, cleared the land, and-for the most part- built the home themselves. Alicia was particularly proud of her finish work on the hardwood floors and wainscoting made with oak from Karol’s family farm in Minnesota. She created a beautiful home filled with treasures–and they finished it right on time. The interior of the home remains a showpiece and a reflection of her fine taste and immaculate housekeeping!
Upon completion of their home, wanderlust struck again. They set off to China for a year to teach English and Economics. Teaching in China was truly a highlight in Alicia’s life. She felt a kinship with her students and developed a deep connection with them in a very short amount of time. They became trusted friends of hers, with one of her students even accompanying her and Karol on their travels through China–serving as their translator, guide and very beloved friend. Her students loved her and she loved them. She remained in touch with many of them long after her time there was finished. Following the teaching assignment, she and Karol traveled through Russia, Mongolia, and other countries in Eastern, Central, and Western Europe. They did, indeed, circumnavigate the globe together.
Alicia’s story wouldn’t be complete without mentioning her love of family. How she loved her family! She did her best to keep in touch through phone calls, visits, letters and emails–always expressing her interest in their lives–as well as her love for them. This love extended beyond her living relatives. In 1979, she joined the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints; she remained a faithful member the rest of her life, particularly embracing the church’s focus on family history. With the help of her friends at church, she became skilled in the process of connecting the branches of her family tree and seeking out the details in the lives of those who had gone before her. She went to great lengths to make sure her entire family knew where their ancestors came from and did what she could to ensure that their stories were not forgotten.
Alicia was the second of nine children. A younger brother preceded her in death, Daniel Justin Willard (survived by his wife, Marilyn Willard), Alicia is survived by her older sister, Anita Paz (Hugo), twin brothers, Raoul Victor “Vyc” Willard (Mary), Roque Lynn “Lyn” Willard (Jeanne), Carlos Lance Willard (Sue), Christi Yohannes (Tel), Shawna Mistretta (Bill), and Lori Garcia.
Between them, Alicia and Karol had eight children from previous marriages. Alicia’s children include Joseph Dirk Monzon (Sheila), Tehmi Marsh (Ken), Meri-Louise Monzon, Glenn Monzon (Sharon Wong), and Rex Monzon (Lisa). Karol’s children include Dana Morphew, David Morphew, and Tom Morphew.
Alicia gracefully transitioned to “Gammie”. Visits with her grandchildren were one of the great joys of her life! She would put other cares aside and focus all her attention to doting on them when they came to her house. Her 19 grandchildren miss her dearly. Her 37 great-grandchildren will always know her story.
She loved the role of “Auntie Alicia!” She and Karol provided a place of refuge not only for their children, but also various nieces and nephews. She had an open-door policy for all! The visits would often start with a tour of her lovely home, followed by wonderful meals she expertly prepared. Her nieces and nephews will be forever grateful for their Aunt Alicia and the lasting impressions she made in their lives. She imparted life lessons freely, sharing her “Pearls of Wisdom” and influencing them for the better. She was also beloved by her many great-nieces and -nephews, who are grateful for the time they were able to have with her. She set a shining example of hard work, perseverance and making time for those she loved.
Alicia was a prolific writer, a lover of movies, and an avid telephone talker. She recorded many of her life experiences for the benefit of future generations. She was quick to invite those around her to sit back and enjoy a show together. And she never ended a conversation with a loved one without saying, ‘Okay, I love you, honey!”-and you knew that she meant it!
A beloved daughter, sister, wife, mother, grandmother, great-grandmother, aunt and great-aunt, Alicia is survived by her loving husband, Karol Morphew. Oh, what a stunning couple! Their love story will continue into the eternities.
In 2019, Alicia’s niece, Marli Jenkins, her husband Jason, and their five children moved into the home that Alicia and Karol built, so that “Aunt Alicia and Uncle Karol” could age in place. The multi-generational home was filled with love and laughter. This was a special time for all. Marli and Jason made sure Alicia made it to all her various appointments, took her medications and made a mad-dash for who got the washer on Tuesdays! We are forever grateful for Marli and Jason and all they have done–and continue to do–for Alicia and Karol. A special thank you to Alicia’s younger sister, Christi Yohannes, who attended to her for the last six weeks of her life–a loving and selfless time that Alicia cherished.
We miss her, but we are comforted by the knowledge that she is safe and sound–not gone forever–just off having another adventure, until we meet again…
All who knew the remarkable and beautiful Alicia “Li” Morphew are welcome to attend a Celebration of Life to be held in her honor on September 16, 2023, at 3 PM at The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, located at 5425 Maxwelton Rd, Langley, WA.