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"My name's Darrell Morton, do you want to play?" When he was three years old, Darrell would stand in front of our house in Pasadena, Calif., calling out that invitation to anyone walking down our sidewalk, young or old. It epitomizes the gregarious person Darrell was throughout his life.

Darrell "Dee" Raymond Morton was born June 24, 1967 in Los Angeles, Calif. to Darrell and Wendy Morton. As the oldest of four children, he was devoted to his sister, Allison and brothers, Adam and Daniel.

He was a person of multitude of tastes and interests, due in part to rich travel experiences provided by growing up in the home of an Air Force chaplain. For those who knew him, the most obvious of those varied tastes was his love of preparing and serving foods from around the world, which led to a career in restaurants across the country.

Dee was an avid and competitive player of sports ranging from Texas Lutheran College tennis, to backyard croquet, to disc golf. He followed with a fanatical interest the fortunes of his favorite professional team, the San Antonio Spurs.

He had a heart for serving people in need, which included volunteering in Biloxi, Miss., post-hurricane Katrina, and at the Akeley-Nevis food shelf, among others.

Most important to Darrell were his friends, family and faith. He made friends wherever he went, not the least of which were those at Bethany Lutheran Church. In his words, "Going to Bethany is like getting a warm hug."

Early in the morning of Dec. 26, he quietly slipped away into the arms of Jesus, surrounded by dear friends, his family and his beloved dog, Peanut. He is terribly missed.

He is survived by his parents, Pastor Darrell and Wendy Morton of Park Rapids-Nevis; sister, Allison (Wade) Alden of Park Rapids; two brothers, Pastor Adam and Pastor Tasha Morton of Lancaster, Pa. and Pastor Daniel (Olivia) Morton of Fertile; many aunts, uncles and cousins.

He was preceded in death by his maternal and paternal grandparents.

Services: 11 a.m. Saturday Jan. 4 at Bethany Lutheran Church, Nevis.

Memorial gifts are suggested to Akeley-Nevis Food Shelf, St. Joseph's Hospice Program, or Bethany Lutheran Church, Nevis.

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