Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Beaches' Sand Castle Guru Dies on Vacation; Alan Morris Was Known as "The Sandman"

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Beaches' Sand Castle Guru Dies on Vacation; Alan Morris Was Known as "The Sandman"

Article excerpt

Byline: Maggie FitzRoy

Alan Morris, 53, known to many around the Beaches and Jacksonville as "the Sandman," built his last sand castle while vacationing in Costa Rica Monday. The Ponte Vedra Beach man died there of apparent food poisoning after eating a fish dinner.

"He was the hardest-working man I ever knew. He loved me. He wanted to make everybody happy," said his wife, Nancy, who was with him when he died.

"I'll miss him," she said. "We've been together 41 years."

Morris taught himself how to build professional-quality sand castles after moving to the Beaches in 1981. He entered the Opening of the Beaches sand castle contest every year, winning several times.

Last winter he built a giant sand castle in the shape of Alltel Stadium and the Super Bowl logo for the cover of The Florida Times-Union's Super Bowl guide.

He had been asked to create a sand castle for an upcoming story about Harry Potter for The Times-Union's Lifestyle section and was looking forward to it, Nancy Morris said.

He enjoyed his reputation and skill. Shorelines ran a story about him on April 16, prior to this year's sand castle contest. He demonstrated for readers, step-by-step, how to build an elaborate Cinderella-type structure. During the contest, many people were building castles like her husband's, Nancy Morris said. He got a kick out of it.

While he didn't win, this year's contest creation was his best ever, she said. "He loved it, it was his best year."

Alan Morris was "in great shape," said Lyn Lichty, a long-time friend of Nancy Morris. His death was a shock, she said.

Lichty and several friends stayed in phone contact with Nancy Morris after her husband's death. She said they arranged to get her help in Costa Rica and another friend flew there. Nancy Morris returned home this week.

Morris was born Nov. 24, 1951, in Atlanta. He graduated from Briarwood High School there and attended what is now the University of West Georgia. …

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