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Morris Twist remembered as giving man after decades of community service

Name is often associated with United Way
Morris Twist. Supplied photo

Morris Twist touched the lives of many in the community before a battle with cancer took his life on Aug. 14 at Guelph General Hospital. 

“The community will definitely miss him. He absolutely will be missed,” said Rick McCombie who worked with him at the United Way Community Services of Guelph and Wellington and would often refer to him as Mr. United because of his years of service with the organization. 

Twist led and guided United Way through decades, well into the new century. He put his passion for social work to use by being an active member of the community. He was the executive director of Guelph’s United way for 35 years from 1973 to 2008, a board member at Wyndham House, a member of the steering committee of the Guelph Community Foundation, an intake worker at The Drop-In-Centre and a case volunteer who would work with patients at Hospice Wellington.

“He was a very passionate caring man. He really cared very much about his community Guelph and Wellington community,” said McCombie who knew Twist since 2003. 

McCombie said Twist was the kind of man who recognized gaps that needed to be filled in the community and would follow through by advocating, an example being creating support programs for seniors in the community to make sure their needs were met. 

“He really took a strong position with the volunteers and the staff to make sure that we were doing our role there,” said McCombie.

“For people like that, who looked after the most vulnerable in the community – that’s his legacy, that was his passion – to make sure that those people were looked after and made sure United Way filled that role to do that,” said McCombie. 

After immigrating to Canada at the age of 18 in 1960, Twist worked as a clothing buyer for T. Eaton Company. Subsequently, he completed his Masters in Social Work which gave him the social service background that McCombie says was very much in line with the values of United Way. 

McCombie said Twist and United Way were always connected. 

“When I mentioned to people that I had an association with United Way, the first thing they would ask is, ‘Well, you must know Morris',” said McCombie. 

Once Twist’s role as executive director ended, McCombie said his passion for the community did not stop. 

“Even after he left, I would run into him and he would always ask about how things were at United Way,” said McCombie, adding that his legacy will always be connected with United Way’s legacy. 

“He would give you the shirt of his back,” said Jean Prichard, a member of the board of directors who was mentored by Twist.

Twist mentored many youth so they could develop skills and serve the community. 

Prichard said she remembers Twist as a funny, honest, and motivating man who loved his family.

“He was honest which would occasionally get him into hot water because he would say what he thought,” said Prichard. 

She said from all of his many positive qualities, the thing that would stand out the most was how much he cared about Guelph. She said even after he retired, he was busy serving his community. 

“Some people volunteer to get something back, but I think Morris volunteered just because he felt like it was a good thing to do and the right thing to do and he had the energy and the time and he felt like he should use it for the good of the world rather than some other purpose,” said Prichard.

Twist’s family said if desired, memorial donations to The United Way would be appreciated.


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Anam Khan

About the Author: Anam Khan

Anam Khan is a journalist who covers numerous beats in Guelph and Wellington County that include politics, crime, features, environment and social justice
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