Clarissa Luistro Morris
Our sweet Claire was a world citizen of the highest order. An advocate for humanity, both here and abroad. Veramente, una bella figura.
Classy, elegant and truly beautiful from the inside out, her brilliant light illuminated all of those around her. She was one of those people that everyone thought of as their best friend, and they weren’t wrong. An expert listener, she was always one hundred percent present and positively brimming with ideas of how to make anything happen. She was passionate about people, making connections around the world with her sunny attitude.
Born in Zamboanga City in the southern part of the Philippines on July 21, 1951, she immigrated to California where she immediately enrolled in college, becoming at age 16, the youngest student ever to attend Cypress College (transferring later to Cal State Fullerton). She spent most of her life in Santa Barbara, along with several memorable years in Rome, leaving this world behind on March 1, 2019.
A long time contributor to the County of Santa Barbara, she built paths to success for many through programs such as Career Pathways, YouthBuild Collaborative Project and the Workforce Investment Board. She forged community alliances, bringing together SBBC, UCSB, and Chambers of Commerce to support Summer Youth Employment efforts. She loved her work.
Fearless and inspiring in equal measure, she moved to Rome in 2005, in spite of speaking not one word of Italian. Nonetheless, she ended up working as an Operations Officer at the United Nations, a Cambridge English professor and finally an International Marketing Consultant at the Vatican.
Her previous experience, as Social Services Division Chief with the County of Barbara, prepared her well for her Italian adventures as she was in charge of no less than eleven (!) public social services programs including Child Welfare and Protection Services, Adult and Senior Services, Disabled and International Refugees Program, Employment and Training Services, Child Adoption Services, Foster Care Licensing and Recruitment, as well as Facilities Management, State Conference Planning and Fiscal Budget Management.
She held degrees from Antioch University with a Masters of Arts in Organizational Management and Public Administration along with California State University in Fullerton with a Bachelor of Arts in Languages and Social Sciences. She spoke Italian, French and Spanish in addition to English, but really, she could talk her way into anything, including Pope John Paul’s funeral.
A passionate explorer, traveler, fire starter and love giver. Wise, wonderful and mischievous. A truth teller and joy maker, blessed with an abundance of contagious laughter. She was gentle and stubborn, creative and caring, showing us all how to live by her fine example. How very lucky we were to have had her in our lives.
Survived by her son Brandon, her partner Paul Collins, sister Lilli and brothers Louis and Rick, numerous nieces and nephews and a grand extended family. She was a positive and devoted leader for her family and will be truly missed by all. Preceded in death by her parents Lilia and Farnacio Luistro and beloved husband Wayne Morris.
A Celebration of Life will be held at Mission Santa Barbara, at 11 am Saturday April 13 with a reception for close friends and family to follow. Please wear bright happy colors, saving your funeral clothes for another day, per Claire’s wishes. In lieu of flowers, donations are being accepted for a memorial bench near Carpinteria beach, which she loved.
“A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity, an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty”.
— Winston Churchill