William N. Morris

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William N. "Bill" Morris is a Tennessee politician who served as mayor of Shelby County, which includes Memphis, Tennessee. He also served as Sheriff of Shelby County.[1] He was the president of the Tennessee County Services Association, an organization of county officials. [2]

Morris served as the sheriff of Shelby County from 1964 to 1970. During his tenure as sheriff, Morris was in charge of the custody of assassin James Earl Ray. Ray admitted while in custody to the 1968 murder of civil rights leader Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.[1] However, Ray later claimed he was coerced into pleading guilty.[3]

Morris was Mayor of Shelby County from 1978 to 1994. Morris was instrumental, along with park superintendent Tom Hill, in introducing a herd of bison to Shelby Farms.[4]

In 1994, Morris campaigned for the Democratic nomination for Governor of Tennessee, placing second in the race to Phil Bredesen.

Tennessee State Route 385 in Shelby County, which was originally known as Nonconnah Parkway, was renamed as Bill Morris Parkway.


  1. ^ a b [1] (Accessed October 27, 2009)
  2. ^ 25 years ago 1983 Commercial Appeal, November 12, 2008 (Accessed October 27, 2009)
  3. ^ Marc Perrusquia, David Waters King's assassin, Ray, dies Commercial Appeal, April 24, 1998 (Accessed October 27, 2009)
  4. ^ Tom Charlier Oh, give me a home ... where new buffalo roam at Shelby Farms to improve bloodline Commercial Appeal, February 1, 2009 (Accessed October 27, 2009)