Founder Dr. David Morris, dies at age 87
February 2, 2017, Onalaska, Wis. – Allergy Associates of La Crosse founder and pioneering allergy provider, Dr. David Morris, passed away on Wednesday, February 1, at Gundersen Health System in La Crosse, WI, following a long battle with Parkinson’s disease.
Board Certified in Allergy and Immunology and Family Practice, Morris was a graduate of the University of Wisconsin – Madison Medical School. Following graduation from medical school and completing an internship in Duluth, Morris served in the US Air Force as a flight surgeon, caring for airmen and their families. His service included time aboard the first Strategic Air Command B-47 based in Guam. In 1957, he joined a private practice in West Salem, Wisconsin, where his long-standing interest in allergic disorders propelled a life-long quest to find better ways to treat patients suffering from a myriad of related issues.
Morris was a naturally self-driven problem solver, researcher and advocate for patients. Throughout his career, he met hurdles he encountered with pragmatism, logic and creativity that others often didn’t understand initially; but in hindsight came to respect as standard medical treatments. In the late 50s, he was one of the first Wisconsin doctors to suction middle ear fluid then insert tubes in children suffering chronic ear infections – a procedure he’d learned from ENT doctors in the Air Force. In the early 1960s, he was one of the first US doctors to use a defibrillator outside of surgery. His use of intradermal flu vaccinations enabled him to expand the number of patients receive vaccinations during times of shortages.
Morris is most recognized in the US and internationally for his work in using sublingual immunotherapy as a safer way to treat a broad range of allergies, including molds, environmental allergies, and foods. The treatment, which delivers precise doses of substances causing a patient’s allergic reactions through drops delivered under the tongue, has been used more extensively in Europe but has received growing attention in the US in recent years. Patients have traveled to Morris’s clinic Allergy Associates of La Crosse, in La Crosse and subsequently Onalaska, from around the US since it was founded in 1970; some traveled internationally as word spread of the help he and his colleagues offered. Morris and his partners published their patient-tailored treatment method, The La Crosse Method Protocol, and have shared it with thousands of other US allergy providers so that more patients could receive disease-modifying treatment closer to home. He founded Allergychoices as a means to educate providers and allergy sufferers about the treatment, and later to offer additional services to practices that had limited staff and resources.
In addition to an experienced clinician, Morris was interested in research and sought out information to refine the protocol he and his partners developed. His children fondly remember family vacations in Europe that were often side trips to Dr. Morris’s ultimate destination – seeking out European allergists to share ideas and learn about published studies that hadn’t made their way to the US. Those studies led to some of his own studies and papers, which included patient quality of life studies using sublingual immunotherapy, use of sublingual immunotherapy in treatment of food allergy, nickel allergy, and a number of related topics.
Aside from his professional accomplishments, Morris was a model of optimism and kindness. He loved his work and caring for his patients. He loved his family and modeled joy—taking his children along on house calls in the early days while singing loudly with the windows wide open. He inspired them to do the right thing, even if it wasn’t the popular thing, understanding that criticism was ok as long as they were doing what was ethical and honorable. He was an avid photographer, and his photographic gallery from local and international travel can be seen throughout the clinic he founded. He strongly believed in giving back, resulting in the initiatives including the Morris Institute of Respiratory Research at UW-Madison, local behavioral health initiatives, and countless others that serve a variety of community needs.
Morris retired from his practice after more than 50 years of caring for his patients. He was most proud of getting to practice with his daughter and partner, Dr. Mary Morris, for 22 years. His legacy will continue through Mary’s dedication to their patients.
Morris is survived by his wife, Sacia, his children Tim (Lisa) Morris of Boca Raton, FL, Mary (Jim Killoran) Morris of Onalaska, WI, Kathryn (Greg) LeMond of Medina, MN and Greenback, TN, Lisa (Scott) Kee of Plymouth, MN and Galesville, WI, 11 grandchildren (Andrew Morris, Spencer Morris, Preston Morris, Sacia Killoran, Moira Killoran, Emma Killoran, Geoffrey LeMond, Scott LeMond, Simone LeMond, Charlie Kee and Elisabeth Kee) and one great-granddaughter Lennon LeMond, extended family, friends, colleagues and patients with whom he shared a special bond. He was preceded in death by his parents and brother, John, and sister, Helen.