First Take

Legacy of a legend

The grandson of Sac State’s first student carries on the family tradition

Grant Morse

 Grant Morse

The late David Morse ’49 (Education) was the first student to enroll at the new Sacramento State College. His grandson, Grant, told Sac State Magazine the story of the auspicious start to his grandfather’s college career, and how it feels to follow in the senior Morse’s footsteps.

Tell us how your grandfather became the first Sac State student.

My grandfather saw in the newspaper that there was going to be a new four-year college in Sacramento. Sign-ups were supposed to be at Sacramento Junior College, which is now Sac City College.

He went to the campus and there wasn’t really anyone around. Then he ran into a couple of gardeners and asked them if they knew of anyone he could talk to. They told him that they had seen ‘a guy in a suit over there in that building.

The “guy in the suit” turned out to be Guy West (Sacramento State’s first president.)

Grandpa said, 'I heard there’s a new four-year school in Sacramento,’ and asked if he could sign up.

President West replied, ‘We haven’t started sign-ups yet so just write your name down on this piece of paper and we’ll get back to you.’

And that’s how Grandpa ended up as the first student, although he didn’t know that fact for quite a while.

Did your grandfather talk about starting the Alumni Association?

[David Morse was a founding member of the Sacramento State Alumni Association.]

He talked about the Alumni Association quite a bit. He was invited to all the events they had here. He loved this school and it was important to him to stay connected.

Any pressure to carry on the legacy?

I feel pride in what Grandpa did, but no pressure. I feel pride in walking around the campus knowing my grandpa was the first student ever to enroll, to kind of carry on the legacy. It feels good. He’d be really proud to know I was going here. He’d be so happy. And that’s one of the reasons I enjoy it.

My grandfather was probably the most caring person you could meet. Whenever you walked in the room, you were the center of his attention. That’s part of the reason he was so involved with the University. He was so into caring and making people feel good.

Did you always know you’d go to Sac State?

Sac State has always been part of my life, because growing up around my grandfather it was always a major part of his life. He would talk about it all the time, how he loved Sac State. He was thankful for everything it gave him.

So naturally when it came time for me to look at colleges this was a top pick. It was one of the few places I applied because I really wanted to go here—after all, Grandpa went here and it's a great school. And it's a beautiful campus. 

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