WHO'S WHO - STEWART MORRIS, SR. & W. CARLOSS MORRIS, JR.
The Morris Brothers, Carloss (right) and Stewart (left), were brought up to work together in the title-insurance company established by their grandfather.
Together, they grew Houston-based Stewart Title Company into one of the four largest title companies in the country and have instilled a sense of family continuity in their children. Now, their sons are heading up various functions of the company.
"We were privileged and blessed to have our father help us," Stewart Morris said. "We were trained to work together, and my brother being older; always seemed to help me."
The Morris brothers served as co-CEOs of Stewart Information Services Corporation, which oversees the various title service and insurance companies that make up the family business. Each brought a unique background to the partnership.
Carloss Morris was a trial lawyer for 15 years in addition to his work in the family business. The experience served him well as he steered Stewart Title on a road of expansion. He said, "As we spread across the nation, I had all these contacts that helped me a lot."
One of Carlossí early decisions was to hire his brother, seven years his junior, after Stewart finished a distinguished Navy career. As Stewart Morris said, "Nobody else ever offered me a job."
The brothers began expanding the company, first into Albuquerque, then into Phoenix and California, and finally nationwide. As it grew, Stewart Title emerged as one of the Big Four in the title-insurance industry. In order to differentiate itself from the competition, the Morris brothers adopted a strategy of putting up their reserves to make the company the most liquid, thereby achieving the best financial rating among the Big Four.
Lately, Stewart has been concentrating on international ventures, bringing title insurance for the first time to places such as Argentina and Israel. It was Stewart Morris who obtained financing from Rice University and First City Bank to establish Houston Baptist University. He also co-authored the preamble to the university charter and remembers a time "when we occasionally ran short of cash, I had to sign notes to pay professorsí salaries."
"An old man convinced me that my children would never go to college the way I went to college unless somebody created more classrooms," Stewart said. Two of his three children graduated. from HBU; the third started there and transferred to Rice. Carloss Morris made a significant and positive contribution to the urban-housing field in the 1970s by chairing the American Bar Associationís advisory commission on housing and urban growth, which examined the legal interrelationships among land-use controls, planning, and housing. He also served as director of Goodwill Industries, chairman of the Star of Hope Mission board, chairman of the Baylor University College of Medicine, and president of the Texas Safety Association.
"Thereís nothing spectacular that Iíve done or my brotherís done," Carloss Morris said. "We just had to make sure we got enough liquid assets to pay off any claims we may have had and to help out our community."
W. Carloss Morris, Jr., died on Nov. 17, 2005, he was active for more than 50 years with the Star of Hope Mission for the homeless, assuming his father's position on the organization's board in 1950.