2005-08-18 / Community

Barbara ‘West End’ Morris Takes A Bow

Story & Pix By Alyssa Goldstein

Barbara Morris at the Rotary Club meeting on August 17, representing West End Realty for the last time.
Barbara Morris at the Rotary Club meeting on August 17, representing West End Realty for the last time.

  • A local woman, who transformed herself into a no-nonsense real estate mogul while at the same time sponsoring popular local events and earning the title “The Heart of Rockaway” from friends, announced her retirement this week.
  • Barbara Morris, the former owner of West End Realty, shared the news with friends and associates in a brief e-mail sent to about 60 addressees Tuesday.

    “Good Morning,” she began, “For those of you who know me, this is not dribble. I wanted to let each and every one of you know that as of yesterday I am retired.”

    She explained that she has “not been herself” since the heartbreaking loss of her teenage granddaughter, Samantha, in April.

    Morris opened West End Realty 11 years ago, and has enjoyed the same kind of success that the community has as a whole. Her first office was crammed in to an “8x10-foot room with no air conditioning,” she recalled for The Wave. The conditions, she said, were less than ideal.

    The community’s success – and the strong local real estate market – helped her to grow in to West End’s current location, 209 Beach 116 Street. Morris said her success also helped her develop a no-nonsense personality. At first, “I was much more shy,” she laughed. That description now seems unfitting – if not completely ridiculous. Now she says, “I’m not shy at all.”

    Indeed, Morris became known for running a tight ship, while giving people a place to feel secure when purchasing a home, associates said. She was involved in hundreds of land transactions, and while the curious could only guess at her profits in the real estate market, Morris has not been able to keep her devotion to the community secret.

    Morris developed strong Rockaway roots as she attended Public School 42, Junior High School 198 and Far Rockaway High School before going to work as a controller for Park Nursing Home and then becoming a broker and entrepreneur.

    She has since become involved with organizations such as the Rockaway Rotary Club, where members wished her well in her retirement Wednesday at their weekly luncheon.

    “She worked very hard for a long time and made Rockaway a better place to live,” said Harold Graham of Dragon’s Den Florist. Brooklyn Golf’s Kelley Brooke – who operates the Pitch N Putt in Riis Park where Morris has been known to scare pins with precise tee shots – credited Morris with bringing her to the Rotary. Mark Dana, of HSBC Mortgage said, “Barbara is one of the kindest, most giving, caring people in my life and I will miss doing business with her.”

    And as her affinity for a round golf proves, the woman wasn’t all business all the time. She started the Annual Sand Castle Contest, which just celebrated its 10th year and the annual “Name the Teddy Bear” contest.

    “I like to think of it as my Rockaway,” said Morris, who has been witness to the peninsula’s ongoing resurgence. “I love the changes. Everyone keeps saying that there are too many people moving here, but I don’t think that. Rockaway is coming back.”

    Whatever happens in the future, Morris is certain she “will still be around” to witness it, but she’s made only one set of concrete plans for public consumption.

    “Since [my husband] Dennis is retired and looks no worse for it, I will be joining him for lunch every day except Wednesday, when I will have lunch with my Rotary Family,” she typed in the e-mail. The letter reveals one other bit of info that will be of interest: “Tighe Leavel and Paul Garcia are the new proud owners of West End Realty,” she confirms.

    Leavel, hailing from Virginia, became a licensed broker in New York about a month ago. Garcia, has lived in Rockaway his whole life and even knew Morris in high school. Garcia said that he and Leavel “hope to continue selling houses with honesty and integrity.”

    “I’m very happy,” Morris told us on Wednesday, “I will be with [Rockaway] forever.”

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