Calvin Morrow

1924 - 2021

Calvin Frank Morrow was born on April 12,1924, to William Henry Morrow and Hattie Robertson Morrow. He was one of the nine Dudley High School (named for James B. Dudley) students who joined, and because he was still a credit short when he enlisted, he came back to Dudley after the war and is officially a member of its class of 1946.

Morrow in 2007. Photo by Jenn Doscher, Greensboro News & Record

     Afterwards, he attended A & T, playing in the band under the direction of his B-1 bandmate Walter Carlson. He earned his B.S. in business administration and M.S. in elementary administration and also did post-grad work at UNC-G and Duke University.
       His first teaching job was at Second Ward High School in Charlotte. He and his wife, Gertrude Nash Morrow, returned to Greensboro where he taught at A & T for ten years, including classes in shoe repair and business. The rest of his career was spent at elementary schools in the area: eight years teaching at Caldwell, and then as the first principal at Reeder, 1968-1971; Murphy, 1971-1974; Claxton, 1974-1979; Lindley, 1979-1983; and Peeler Open, 1983-1986, when he retired after 36 years in education.
       He and Gert were regular attendees at B-1’s reunions, an inseparable couple, and they often traveled together to talk about B-1 and its legacy. He died on April 11, 2021, the last of the B-1 veterans. He and Gert had two sons, Calvin and William.
       His vivid recollections of service with B-1 were critical to the history of B-1 written by Alex Albright. “I couldn’t say how many times I called Calvin up to ask him a question,” Albright recalled. “He usually had the answer, and it was always fun to talk to him and even more so to see him and Gert together. They were troupers, always ready to join me in a program if it had anything to do with B-1. One of our best times was our live interview with Frank Stasio for WUNC radio.” [Listen to it.]
        Former NC Poet Laureate Fred Chappell, also a Greensboro resident, called Morrow “one of the friendliest persons I ever met.”
        Morrow is also featured in a U.S. Navy video produced in 2017 as part of the band’s 75th reunion celebration. [Watch it.]

Calvin signs copies of “The Forgotten First” at Scuppernong Books in Greensboro

“It was like a family,” Morrow recalled about being a part of B-1. “Before that, the only image the Navy had of blacks was as servants. Anybody that saw that band, they could say the Navy has made some progress. We could be seen as a role model, so others could say, I can be something more than just a servant. Some of the white sailors’d see our music insignia and wouldn’t believe it, but we broke the barrier.”