On the last day of Brent Morrison’s life, he woke up for a morning run, told wife Dianne he loved her, and kissed her goodbye. The Morrisons moved to Fort Smith from Hot Springs in 2013. They had only lived in the city for two years, but wasted no time getting involved.
Of particular interest was the city’s plan to build a unified trails system. Chaffee Crossing was a favorite spot for Morrison, so it wasn’t unusual he chose it on the morning of July 11, 2015. What was unusual was what happened next.
After Morrison ran past a parked vehicle, a shot rang out. Then another and another. By the time the gunman finished, he had fired nine rounds from a .22 caliber rifle into Brent, leaving him there to die. The shooter received life without the possibility of parole in 2016. Dianne later honored her husband by launching an annual 5K run in his name. All proceeds go toward funding walking and running trails at Chaffee Crossing.
On Wednesday (April 11), the Fort Chaffee Redevelopment Authority asked the city’s parks commission to consider naming phase one of the district’s 6.5-mile trails system the Brent Morrison Memorial Trail. FCRA Director of Marketing Lorie Robertson called Morrison “one of our most dedicated runners and appreciators of trails and outdoor activity at Chaffee Crossing.”
“Brent Morrison represents the spirit and the joy and the happiness that can come from having these trails and the things that can be done,” Robertson said, adding the FCRA had approached Dianne — present Wednesday — about the decision and “she would be honored if we would commemorate this section of the trail in Brent’s honor.”
“We just feel like it’s an appropriate thing to do,” Robertson added.
Parks Commission chairman Casey Millspaugh said he was “100% in favor of naming the section after Morrison.
“I met Brent when they first came here,” Millspaugh said. “They were very excited to be here in Fort Smith, and they were part of the change that was happening. I got to interact with them a lot and see the excitement they had. When I saw the horrible news of what had happened, it was overwhelming. And the fact that they came here and were so excited to be part of the community and something devastating like this happened — it was horrible.”
Commissioners were unanimous in their recommendation, which will start the formal naming process. The city’s Board of Directors will vote on the recommendation at a future Board meeting.