Members of the Merced-area community, friends and loved ones are mourning the loss of Ethan Brown Morse who died tragically on March 15 in Atwater. He was 22.
Morse was shot and killed shortly after dropping off his beloved daughter Ava at daycare.
Large gatherings of friends, relatives and local residents attended services in Merced last weekend, including a Rosary at Our Lady of Mercy Catholic Church, a Funeral Mass at St. Patrick’s Catholic Church, and a Celebration of Life at the Boys & Girls Club.
“We all say, and we know, there are no words that can provide any comfort or solace, or that can heal our broken hearts,” said Emily Tsakoumakis, Ethan’s aunt, at the Rosary service. “I implore you to do the only thing we can do: Remember Ethan with love and honor, and pride and joy, for the beautiful human being that he was.”
Presiding over the ceremonies was Father Rex Hays, a pastor of Sacred Heart Catholic Church in Patterson, and a lifelong friend of Ethan and the Morse family.
“This is truly the worst of all possible circumstances,” Hays said with great emotion during the Mass at St. Patrick’s. “Ethan was cut down in a cruel, inhuman, hateful and cowardly way. … And I think a lot of times our initial responses are: Get mad at God. … But God is the God of Light, and the God of Love. … And this had nothing to do with God.”
In a trembling voice, Hays described the heart-wrenching phone call he received on the day of the tragedy. It was from his longtime friend, Larry Morse, devastated with overwhelming grief. Hays also detailed his own relationship with Ethan over the years that was filled with mutual love and respect.
Ethan’s brothers, Dylan and Ryan Morse, gave the Eulogy. The brothers recalled joyful and touching times while growing up, along with other special family moments. They described a brother who was loving and thoughtful to friends and family, and an athlete who was intensely and completely dedicated to the sport of wrestling while attending Golden Valley High School.
They said Ethan’s wish was to endow a wrestling scholarship at Golden Valley with the proceeds from damages he was awarded previously by a federal jury for a wrongful arrest. They said their family is honoring that wish.
Finally, the Morse brothers said their brother Ethan was devoted to his daughter Ava, wanted her to be happy, and: “When he was with her, he was truly the most happiest, and the most himself.”
In his obituary, Ethan was described as a “Kind, respectful, loving, loyal young man, who had the uncommon courage to stand up for truth and justice. His parents, brothers, family, and friends were privileged to have him in their lives and will mourn his loss each and every day.”
May 11, 1996 – March 15, 2019
Ethan Brown Morse was born Mother’s Day, May 11th, 1996, in Merced.
He attended Merced Montessori, Our Lady of Mercy, Fremont Elementary, Hoover Middle Schools, graduating from Golden Valley High School in 2014.
Ethan was a standout wrestler at Golden Valley, winning numerous tournaments in his weight class, earning academic all-league honors. He was a Team Captain and a winner of Golden Valley Wrestling’s Ironman Award.
In his senior year, Ethan was one of only two Golden Valley wrestlers to make the CIF State Wrestling Championship Finals in Bakersfield. Ethan earned a wrestling scholarship to Ouachita Baptist College in Arkadelphia, Arkansas.
In May 2016, he became a father to his beloved Ava Tahara Morse, who survives him. Ethan was a loving and devoted father whose happiest moments were spent with Ava.
Ethan loved being a part of his large and extended family.
He is survived by his parents, Larry and Cindy Morse of Merced, older brother Dylan of San Francisco, and younger brother Ryan of Albany, NY.
He is survived by Alexis Leverett, mother of Ava. He is also survived by his grandmother Saranne Morse of Carlsbad, CA, his uncles Brian (Beverly) Morse of Corralitos, CA, Neil (Teresa) Morse of Merced, Claude Roberson of Little Rock, AK, his aunts Anne Mahoney of Encinitas, Emily (John) Tsakoumakis of Westchester, CA and Ellen Shine of Carlsbad.
He was also the cherished cousin of Michael Mahoney, Lettye Walsh, Matt Morse, Rachelle Morse, Michael Tsakoumakis, Cortland Morse, Adria Sargent, Elise Medeiros, Jenny Roberson, Millie Roberson, and Sam Roberson, his adored “Nana” Rachel Cortinas, and “Uncle” Freddie Cortinas, and many second cousins across the United States.
Contribution to the Ethan Morse Golden Valley Wrestling Fund can be sent care of Neil Morse, 760 West 20th Street, Merced, CA.