Honorary degree, scholarship memorials to former PDN reporter

Mark Morey, who died Sunday, an award-winning journalist

Mark Morey is pictured in 2019 on City Pier in Port Angeles. (Paul Gottlieb)

Mark Morey is pictured in 2019 on City Pier in Port Angeles. (Paul Gottlieb)

PORT ANGELES — Mark Morey took every journalism class available when he was a student at Peninsula College, and even though he never earned a diploma, he nonetheless went on to a long and an award-winning career as a newspaper reporter at the Peninsula Daily News and Yakima Herald-Republic.

This spring, Morey will finally get his degree more than 25 years after he left school.

But he won’t be here to receive it.

Morey, 46, died Sunday in Port Angeles after an 18-month battle with colorectal cancer.

The last-minute campaign to present him with an honorary associate of arts degree wasn’t fast enough to outpace the course of the disease, but Morey did know the award was coming.

“Yeah, I didn’t quite make it over the finish line,” Morey told his friend Rich Riski. “But I appreciate the gesture.”

Riski, a Peninsula College journalism instructor and former PDN reporter, was among a group of Morey’s friends and former co-workers who rushed to organize the honorary degree and establish a scholarship in his name at the college in the weeks leading up to his death.

(Morey insisted the scholarship include his father’s name, thus it is the Brian and Mark Morey Scholarship Fund.)

Morey’s mother, Patty Morey, said she didn’t think receiving his degree had been a priority for her son because the people he worked with always respected his journalism.

“He kind of joked about beating the system, that he got a degree even though he didn’t complete the work,” Patty Morey said.

Morey’s interest in reporting was sparked in high school, Patty Morey said, when he had a work study job at the Quad-City Herald near their home in Brewster. He came to Port Angeles in 1994 to live with his grandparents, Lyle and Marge Lindelein, while he attended Peninsula College on a Webster Scholarship.

Robbie Mantooth, who taught journalism at the college from 1983-2000, said Morey immediately made an impression as someone who was passionate about reporting and that she wasn’t surprised by the outpouring of support he had received.

“He had a nose for news that just wouldn’t stop,” Mantooth said. “It’s been really something to see how people not only admired his abilities and his work ethic and persistence, but about how they just loved him as a person.”

Morey took classes at Peninsula College for five years, piling up the credits but not in the subjects that were required for a degree.

His lack of a diploma — or experience in broadcast — didn’t seem to matter when he began his professional journalism career as a reporter at KONP in 1997.

“He was probably one of the most voracious reporters I think I’ve ever worked with,” KONP operations manager Todd Ortloff said. “Frankly, I didn’t have to assign him a lot of stuff. He was the ultimate news hound.”

Former Peninsula Daily News Publisher John Brewer had admired Morey’s work at KONP and in 1999 asked him to come in for an interview. Morey impressed both Brewer and Rex Wilson, executive editor, who hired him on the spot.

Brewer called Morey an “old-fashioned shoe-leather reporter” with “high-level ethical standards.”

Morey was the lead reporter on the newspaper’s coverage of the murder of Clallam County Sheriff’s Deputy Wally Davis in August 2000. That coverage earned the PDN the C.J. Blethen Award from the Pacific Northwest Newspaper Association for Distinguished Excellence in Breaking News Coverage for newspapers under 50,000 circulation.

It was a real loss, Brewer said, when Morey left to work for the Yakima Herald-Republic in 2001.

While at the Herald, he was part of a team that won the national George Polk Award — one of the most prestigious prizes in journalism — in the category of Regional Reporting for a series about the Thirtymile Fire that killed four U.S. Forest Service firefighters near Winthrop on July 10, 2001.

PDN photojournalist Keith Thorpe worked with Morey at the Peninsula Daily News and the two covered hundreds of stories together. Thorpe recalled that Morey was the first person out the door when news happened.

“I can remember many late evenings in the PDN newsroom poking fun at dispatches on the police scanner with Mark using his distinctive voice to repeat highlights of the mostly routine calls,” Thorpe said. “He often used the phonetic alphabet used on the radio, which he knew by heart.”

Retired senior reporter Paul Gottlieb became friends with Morey when they both worked at the PDN. Gottlieb said that behind Morey’s outer appearance — always dressed in black and wearing sunglasses — and quiet, solemn demeanor was a person with a dry sense of humor, a big laugh, a deep sense of fairness and a desire to help others.

That outlook informed Morey’s work, Gottlieb said.

“He had a really good sense of right and wrong journalistically,” Gottlieb said. “He was really tuned in to what the public needed to know.”

Gottlieb sat in on a Facetime chat Morey held with some of his friends not long before his death, when one asked if he had any advice.

“He said just care about your friends and remember to take care of others,” Gottlieb said. “It wasn’t ‘follow your dreams’ or whatever. It showed how really human relationship-oriented he was.”

A GoFundMe crowdfunding campaign his friends established to help pay for Morey’s medical care has so far raised over $26,000. To contribute, go to tinyurl.com/4xhwna2v.

Bruce Hall met Morey when they were first-graders and the two remained close. Hall said Morey never allowed cerebral palsy to become a barrier to his goals.

“That was a thing about him, with both journalism and life in general, it was never ‘no,’ it was like, ‘here’s what I need,’” Hall said. “He always found a way to be able to do all the things he wanted to do.”

Hall said the characteristics that made Morey a great friend were also what made him a great journalist.

“The thing about Mark is, he did a lot more listening than talking, and he waited until he knew what he was gonna say,” Hall said. “He was just that guy who was always there for you.”

The Peninsula College Board of Trustees at their Feb. 14 meeting will vote on awarding Morey an Honorary Associate of Arts Degree. When or to whom it will be presented will be determined at a later date, according to the college.

Scholarship fund

To contribute to the Brian and Mark Morey Scholarship Fund:

By check:

Peninsula College Foundation

1502 E Lauridsen Blvd

Port Angeles, WA 98362

MEMO: Brian and Mark Morey Scholarship Fund (or simply “Mark Morey”)


Go to https://pencol.edu/foundation/ways-give

Click the link to PC Foundation’s secure online giving portal.

Under “Fund,” select “Other” from the drop-down menu.

Enter “Brian and Mark Morey Scholarship Fund” (or simply “Mark Morey”) in the comments section.


Reporter Paula Hunt can be reached at paula.hunt@soundpublishing.com.

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