George Morris woke up early last Saturday and made coffee for Dorothy, just as he always did for the woman he loved.

The two were high school sweethearts. Married for 54 years. Inseparable. Where he went, she went.

This is how their days always began. Coffee for Dot, as he called his wife.

They had breakfast together. And then, about 9:30 or so, they drove from their home in Oro Valley to a nearby Safeway, where U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords was holding Congress on Your Corner.

George Morris had some questions for Giffords.

"He had some issues that were very important to him that he wanted to discuss with her," said Kim Hardy, one of Dot and George's two daughters. "He was very concerned about the future of our country for his kids and grandkids."

They worried about being late, but arrived early enough that they were standing toward the front of the line, maybe third or fourth, when the shooting started.

George moved quickly to save Dot, throwing her to the ground. Diving for her. But as soon as he reached her, he knew he was too late. Dorothy Morris was one of six people killed in the shooting. George Morris was shot in the chest and the leg, one of 13 people injured, including Giffords.

"He keeps saying that his whole life was my mom and the two of us," said Torrey Nelson, Dorothy and George's younger daughter.

Dorothy Morris was 76 years old. She was born and raised in Reno, Nev. Grew up with horses. In winters, she would ice-skate on a pond. Growing up she had a cousin who was like a sister.

She met George at a high school dance, and they moved through life together. He served in the Marines in the mid-to-late '60s and then worked as a pilot, crisscrossing the skies for Pan Am and United. During their Marine years, she made a cookbook with other military wives. She loved to entertain. She would do anything to support the family.

In one way only were Dorothy and George Morris an unlikely pair. She was afraid of flying. But despite her fears of the air, they traveled together often. For their 40th anniversary, he flew her to Paris. Literally.

It was a night flight, and when the clock struck midnight, he announced "Happy Anniversary!" over the speaker to his wife. He was like that. Loved to make little announcements to family members when they were on board.

Kim Hardy and Torrey Nelson last spoke to their parents on the Thursday and Friday before the Jan. 8 shooting. Hardy had called to get some computer help. She was shopping for a new one. She had "champagne tastes," her mother joked.

Nelson spoke to her father on the Friday before the shooting, but she could hear her mother in the background.

"Right before we hung up, she yelled through the phone, 'I love you!' " Nelson said. "She always said that."

From their homes in Las Vegas, both women caught news of the shooting on Fox News. Nelson didn't think her parents were there, but she was crying out of concern. She and her husband, Van, started making phone calls just to check. They called the Morris home. They tried the cell phone. No answer. They tried both lines again and again for 45 minutes, and then they caught a glimpse of what looked like the Morrises' car on TV.

Hardy had a similar experience, seeing the car on TV and then frantically calling area hospitals, Tucson police and the Pima County Sheriff's Department.

And now they grieve. They hope their father can be released from University Medical Center by early this week. But there is no easing of pain. No way to fill the gaping hole in their lives. There is only the absence of a devoted mother and wife, now suddenly gone.

"Every day you wake up hoping it's a dream," Van Nelson said. "And then you realize you're not at home, and you know it's not."

Contact Josh Brodesky at or 573-4242.