“They Don’t Make ‘Em Like Morris Hood”: Former State Senator Remembered

Morris Hood III, a longtime Detroit lawmaker, died Monday at age 54 of complications related to COVID-19.

Former state Sen. Morris Hood III (D-Detroit) was a rare kind of lawmaker in Lansing, say friends and past colleagues.

“Mo, he transcended the parties. It wasn’t about the party. It was about what’s right for Detroit.” — Former state Sen. Goeff Hansen (R-Hart).

They remember “Mo,” as many call him, as someone who put his constituents before politics and built relationships on both sides of the aisle. He was an ardent Democrat, but was beloved by many of his Republican colleagues all the same. “One of the good guys,” a former colleague wrote on Tuesday

Related: Listen to Morris Hood III’s impactful 2013 speech.

Hood came from a family with a long history of public service. His father, Morris Hood Jr., represented Detroiters in the Legislature for 27 years. The younger Hood died on Monday from complications of COVID-19. He was 54 years old. He will be deeply missed. 

Listen: Former colleagues and friends remember former state Sen. Morris Hood (D-Detroit) on Detroit Today


State Sen. Curtis Hertel Jr. (D-East Lansing) is a former colleague of Hood in the Senate and was a close friend. He says they were both sons of prominent members of the state Legislature, a shared experience that helped develop a close bond.

 “He was just a wonderful legislator and friend.” — State Sen. Curtis Hertel Jr. (D-East Lansing)

Hertel says their fathers were also very close friends.

“Too often we see, I think, sometimes people take away from the legacies that their families create. He added to the legacy,” says Hertel on Detroit Today with Stephen Henderson. “He was just a wonderful legislator and friend. And he will be truly missed.”

Former State Sen. Goeff Hansen (R-Hart) represented Michigan’s 34th state Senate district from 2011 to 2018, serving with Hood that entire time. Hansen says he and Hood became close while Hansen’s son and Hood’s wife were both battling cancer at the same time.

“He was very instrumental in helping me to put things together.” — Former State Sen. Goeff Hansen (R-Hart)

“Mo, he transcended the parties. It wasn’t about the party. It was about what’s right for Detroit,” says Hansen. “It’s just a huge loss for the entire state”

Hood and Hansen also worked on multiple bills together, including 2016 legislation that restructured public schools in Detroit. Hansen was the original lead sponsor of that legislation and worked closely with Hood and other Detroit lawmakers to pass bipartisan legislation out of the Senate. He famously withdrew his support for the final package in an emotional speech on the Senate floor, saying much of that bipartisan work was undone in the House. Hood called Republican supporters “cowards” in his own floor speech opposing the final product.

“He was very instrumental in helping me to put things together,” says Hansen about Hood’s help with the original legislation. “Being friends, we could go out, have dinner…or just go down and sit in his office and say, ‘Help me understand what we’re trying to do here to make sure we’re doing this correctly because we want to make sure that we give you the best possible product that we can. He was just so helpful in this.”

Former state Rep. Fred Durhal III (D-Detroit) was another member of a powerful political family who represented Detroit in the state Capitol, and a close friend.

“Mo definitely was a bridge to the community.” — Former state Rep. Fred Durhal III (D-Detroit)

“Coming into the Legislature, we’d be able to talk about old times, and obviously a lot of the tutelage and lessons and legislative acumen that we gained from our fathers,” says Durhal, who succeeded his father Fred Durhal Jr. in the state House. “So it was really, you know, just a really strong bond on that part.”

“Mo definitely was a bridge to the community,” Durhal continues. “Mo was at every community meeting. You know, he was down to earth. He was the guy that was there listening. And I would tease Mo often when I would come to a lot of these community meetings, I’m wearing a suit and Mo would be there dressed sometimes in jeans and a fleece. But that’s just the type of guy that Mo Hood was. The senator was just really down to earth, really in touch with the people and was able to bridge the gap.”

Chad Livengood is senior editor with Crain’s Detroit Business, and covered the state Capitol during Hood’s tenure there. 

“He had a sense of pride about the place, about the institution, about respecting people.” — Chad Livengood, Crain’s Detroit Business

“He had a sense of pride about the place, about the institution, about respecting people and about relationships, too. And that’s increasingly in short supply at the Capitol these days,” says Livengood.

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