A beautiful soul slipped away from us in this season of Thanksgiving when Noel Morfin, 76, died in his own bed on Nov. 23, surrounded by his family who loved him and will miss him so much.
Noel was born on March 13, 1936, in San Antonio, Texas, to Isaac and Beatrice Morfin and the family moved to La Mesa, N.M., shortly after. Noel lost his mother before his second birthday. He was comforted knowing he would one day be reunited with her in heaven.
The Morfins moved to Idaho when Noel was 9. His father pastored Spanish-speaking Assembly of God congregations in the Treasure Valley, and the entire family worked as migrants in that area just to make ends meet. Noel had never spoken English until a caring third-grade teacher taught him to speak, read and to write in his second language. His appreciation for education and teachers was life-long. The same teacher also taught Noel to box when he was teased by others who saw him as different.
In his early teens, his aptitude for boxing led him down a path that included an athletic scholarship to the College of Idaho, to the Golden Gloves boxing program and a professional career in a sport where the size of the body didn’t matter as much as the size of the heart. They called him the “Baby Faced Assassin,” and rightly so.
Noel joined the Army Reserves in 1958 and was stationed at Fort Ord near the Monterey Peninsula. This began his life-long love of the California coast, Carmel in particular. He was a successful businessman in the San Francisco area and Orange Country. He moved with his young family to Rupert, Idaho, in 1982. Here he became a wonderful coach and life mentor to many young people and started the Babe Ruth baseball program in that area. He was a community-minded man, and social justice issues were his passion. He lost his wife, Jean, to cancer in 1986 and became both father and mother to his youngest children.
Following in his father’s footsteps, he became involved in ministry as a rural chaplain and as a missionary to the Hispanic people through the Methodist church.
Noel met his wife, Dana Morfin, in 1999 and the two became life-long friends and partners in ministry and education. Together they began the Hispanic Heritage Scholarship Pageant that completed its 11th season this summer. Noel interpreted for Dana’s students and their families and loved working with those who needed his compassion and understanding. He pastored for the Filer United Methodist Church for four years and enjoyed being part of congregational life. He loved cooking for his family and friends, and many people in this valley will remember for years to come his chicken enchiladas and salsa. His beautiful fine-boned features will live on in his amazing children and grandchildren who were so blessed to have him as a father and grandfather. He was fluently bilingual in Spanish and loved language itself. As we remember him, think how wonderful it would be if we could all learn to say the words, “I love you,” “I forgive you,” “Don’t be afraid” in every language on this fragile planet we call home. Noel was a man who longed for peace but understood deeply that peace comes hand in hand with justice. We should remember that as well. In lieu of flowers, his family asks that you donate to your favorite causes for social justice and education in his honor. We will miss you Silver Fox and try to live our lives in ways that reflect Christ’s light and the faith you had in each of us.
Noel was preceded in death by his father and mother; his sister, Pricilla; his wife, Jean; his son, Anthony; his son-in-law, Casey Dessel; and his step-daughter, Denise Kelsey. He is survived by his wife, Dana; his daughters, Michelle Elliott and Amber Dessel; his son, Troy Morfin, married to Yvonne; his stepsons, Nick (Molly) Waters and Joe (Rachel) Quatrone; his step-daughter, Abby (Joshua) Baker; his grandchildren, Amanda (Nathan) Borg, Brandon Elliott, Blake Elliott, Blake Caldwell, Michael (Merri) Morfin, Troy Morfin, Christian Morfin, Saiera Hernandez, Nadia Perri, Krystan Dessel, Kendra Dessel, Slade Dessel, Riley, Brandon Troy Jr., Braxton Morfin, E’mya Jean Morfin, Jonathan Waters, Amos Waters, Daniel Quatrone, Frank Quatrone, Nick Quatrone, Sam Quatrone,; great-grandchildren Kaylynn and Wyatt Morfin; and siblings Cecilia Vasquez, Cindy Baldwin, Paul Morfin, David Morfin, and Phonecia Vega.
Memorial services will be held at 7 p.m., Tuesday, Nov. 27 at the First United Methodist Church in Twin Falls.