Gertrude Morse, land developer and activist, dies at 94

August 29, 2013

Gertrude Morse, a Montgomery County real estate agent, broker and land developer who was also active in Women Strike for Peace and other peace and friendship groups during the Cold War, died Aug. 21 at Arden Courts nursing home in Potomac. She was 94.

The cause was a respiratory ailment, said a daughter, Gale Morse.

Mrs. Morse, a Garrett Park resident, was most active in land development in the 1960s and 1970s but continued off and on for the rest of her life. She also lobbied for low-income housing in Montgomery County, her family said.

Gertrude Gorcey was born in Brooklyn to a theatrical family that included actor Leo Gorcey of the Dead End Kids. She was raised in Long Branch, N.J., and settled in the Washington area by 1950.

She belonged to interfaith groups that tried to bring peace between Israelis and Palestinians. She funded scholarships at the New Jersey Institute of Technology for Jordanian women pursuing PhDs in science.

She was a member of U.S-China and U.S.-Soviet Union friendship associations, traveling to Russia in the 1960s and to China in the early 1970s. She often traveled alone through age 91 and was once airlifted out of Rhodesia during its turbulent rebirth as Zimbabwe.

She wrote poetry and performed it with jazz musicians including Sun Ra and Cecil Taylor in the late 1980s and 1990s.

She was a past president of the Rockville Garden Club and a member of Am Kolel, a Jewish group.

Her first marriage, to Lincoln Wiseman, ended in divorce. Her second husband, Malcolm Morse, died in 1986.

Survivors include two children from her first marriage, Ilene Ianniello of Trumbull, Conn., and Alan Wiseman of Potomac; four children from her second marriage, Michael Morse and Melvin Morse, both of Garrett Park, Sarah Morse of Somerset and Gale Morse of Southbury, Conn.; a brother; 21 grandchildren; and 10 great-grandchildren.

— Adam Bernstein

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