Saturday, December 13, 2003

Morris earns merit badge

Deerfield Township woman wins berth on 'Survivor' finale

By Perry Schaible
Enquirer contributor

DEERFIELD TWP. - Members of Boy Scout Troop 617 have been gathering on Thursday nights.

But instead of discussing troop business or working on merit badges, they've been cheering on their longtime scoutmaster.

Cheers erupted at J.F. Burns Elementary Thursday night after a tribal council on Survivor: Pearl Islands revealed that Lillian Morris made the final four, sending her on to Sunday's two-hour season finale (8-10 p.m. Channels 12, 7).

More than 100 Scouts, parents, family and friends crowded into the cafeteria to watch the show with the Deerfield Township woman and her family.

"From the very beginning, when my mom said she was going to be on it, I said she would make the final two," said Christian Green, 18. "There's just something about her, I think, that lets people trust her."

Visitors could have heard a pin drop in the cafeteria between 8 and 9 p.m., apart from occasional cheers for the scoutmaster and jeers toward other cast members.

Morris could be seen covering her head, whispering to her husband, Lonnie Morris, or yelling for joy while the show aired. During commercials she received hugs from friends and signed T-shirts for Scouts.

"They've supported Lill from the beginning win, lose or draw," Lonnie Morris said. She's not allowed to discuss the shows, which were taped last summer.

Troop 617 committee member Scott Douglass said he wasn't surprised that Morris made the final four.

"I've seen her camping with the boys. She can handle herself out in the wilderness," he said.

She has been scoutmaster of the troop for 12 years. Traditionally the group meets on Thursday nights, but since Morris has been on the show, meetings have been held Mondays or Tuesdays at the Loveland Church of Christ.

Troop 617 will view Sunday's finale at Newport on the Levee. CBS will occasionally "look in" to see the reaction of Morris' hometown fans.

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