WINONA, Minn. – When the long-term Winona activist Joe Morse learned he was dying of cancer in 2014, his friend Doug Nopar, also a cause-driven activist, suggested he put his journey’s story on tape. Now it’s a book, pulled together from the audio tapes by Jerome Christenson, the retired dean of Winona journalism. The book, “No Ordinary Joe,” is largely in Miroe’s own words. It’s has been called oral history at its best. The book, 166 pages, has been out since May. Morse, of course, never got to see it. He died in 2017. Nopar and Christenson say he would be pleased.
The Morse saga
At 20, Morse ventured to Mississippi help black people register to vote, this was in the 1960s after three civil rights workers were murdered. Morse had run-ins with the Ku Klux Klan and spent time in jail. He was undeterred. As he says in the book: “If you ain’t caught shit, you ain’t done shit.” Back in Winona, he jumped into numerous causes ty the next 50-some years:
> Men Opposing Sexism and Violence, for counseling men against domestic violence.
> Beyond Tough Guise, a related cause.
> The Prairie Island Coalition Against Nuclear Storage, an environmental cause.
> Bluff Land Environment Watch.
> Citizens Against Incineration. In the 1980s.
At the end, as he was dying, Morse and Nopar were at the core of Citizens Against Silica Mining. The cause succeeded in Winona County’s historic ban against frac-sand extraction.
His day job
Morse made his living as a county-appointed guardian for children’s interests in divorces and other family difficulties.