The Way We Were: The Cannon Siblings

The Way We Were: The Cannon Siblings
Selby, Linda and Kin with mother, 1944

For Linden Kinder “Kin” Cannon, III and his identical twin sisters Linda Cannon McMorrow and Selby Cannon Kaiser, the fact that they, their spouses, several children and grandchildren mostly live within the San Jose area hints at the closeness of this family. For these constantly moving military kids, nurturing family relationships, spending time together and creating a permanent hometown are priorities.

After living in approximately 50 different locations throughout their lives, the possibility that most of the Cannon family would eventually settle in the same hometown seemed beyond remote.

“People think we’ve lived here all of our lives, but I was the first to move to Jacksonville in 1966,” Cannon said. “In the back of my mind I always thought that if I could get one sister here, the other would follow…then we’d have some or all of the children and that is exactly what happened. As the only enlisted man in a family of career officers, I had to bide my time until my brothers-in-law retired.”

Linda and Selby, March 1941

Linda and Selby, March 1941

Cannon spent seven years in active duty in the U.S. Army Reserves; his sisters both married West Point graduates. They date most family milestones against a continuous timeline of U.S. history and military events. All sides of their family, for consecutive generations, are connected to the defense of the country, instilling a sense of intense patriotism in what Cannon calls a “super-military family.”

Cannon’s father and brothers-in-law were military officers and two maternal great-uncles were Vice Admirals in the Navy. Linda’s husband, Tom McMorrow, is the son of an Army Major General. 

Cannon finished law school at the University of Florida in 1966 and moved to Jacksonville to join Mahoney, Hadlow, Chambers & Adams. The young attorney completed his bar exam and within days was called to Army Reserves Active Duty.

In 1968 Cannon fell in love with Barbara Schurer, a Riverside native, 1964 Lee High School and FSU graduate who taught at Annie R. Morgan Elementary School.

“We met on a blind date arranged by my cousin, who taught school with Barbara. It was an unusual first date, to the 1968 Ye Mystic Revellers Ball, but it was my good fortune to meet Barbara. We were married June 14, 1968,” Cannon said. “I’ve been blessed on both sides of my family. Linda, Selby and I had wonderful parents and I married into a loving, principled family. My in-laws, Frank and Bertie Schurer, were great role models.”

The Cannons first lived in a Riverside apartment, then an Avondale duplex. In 1969 their daughter Kimberly was born.

“When Kimberly was three we wanted a yard where she could play. My friend Ellis Zahra (fellow attorney and Army buddy), learned from his mother, Dorothy “Dot” Zahra, that the home next to her on Ardsley Road was going on the market,” Cannon said. “We moved to Ardsley Road in 1972. Our son Kinder was born in 1974.”

In 1975 the Cannons bought a Granada home on Alhambra Drive North from Mr. and Mrs. Jack Saalfield. The Saalfields had bought it from its original owner, U.S. Federal Judge Charles Scott. Judge Scott told the Saalfields, who shared the story with the Cannons, that the home was built with salvaged brick from the old downtown post office. The Cannon children enjoyed attending San Jose Episcopal Day School, Octoberfest in Granada Park and the annual Halloween Pumpkin Contest.

In 1982 Cannon accepted a position as executive vice president and general legal counsel for an air quality products company in Orlando, but the family missed Jacksonville, and they returned within two years.

“We got lucky and bought one of the last lots in San Jose Forest II. Mitch Montgomery built our home on Christopher Creek in 1984,” Cannon said. “We’ve considered downsizing, but love the neighborhood and neighbors too much. Van and Jane Monroe have lived on our street longer than we have, Jeff and Barbara Ricke and Mark and Toni Woods are all terrific people.”

Cannon retired as a senior partner from Holland & Knight, LLP in 2013. He practiced law for 46 years, the last 12 as the firm’s general counsel.

Selby, Kin and Linda in Crystal River, Florida, 1999

Selby, Kin and Linda in Crystal River, Florida, 1999

Twins follow brother to Jacksonville

Linda Cannon McMorrow was the first twin to follow her brother to Jacksonville. After her husband, Lieutenant Colonel Tom McMorrow (Joint Chiefs of Staff – Middle East), retired from the Pentagon and fulfilled his dream of earning a Georgetown law degree, his brother-in-law encouraged him to practice law in Jacksonville. That possibility, plus his mother’s move to Sarasota and their desire to live near family, sealed the deal.

The McMorrows moved to Beauclerc in 1980. Tom McMorrow worked for The Charter Company until shortly after a tragic plane crash in Ireland in October 1981, which claimed the lives of several of the company’s top executives. He practiced private and corporate law until he retired in 2014.

The McMorrows bought their 9409 Woodhaven Road home after falling in love with the picturesque street and its canopied trees. Their neighbors became great friends and they recall some epic garage sales and memorable Christmas parties.

“The Waits (Bobby and Joanne) rented a beach house every summer and invited all the neighbors. That’s when everyone met and really got to know each other,” she said. “During the early 1980s Selby and I lived on opposite ends of Woodhaven and our children attended the University of Florida. We opened our homes for Florida/Georgia weekend to invite all of our sons’ college friends. We had a hot tub and Selby had the pool so 20 or more kids would go back and forth between our houses having a great time. We got to know our children’s friends, knew they were safe and every morning when we got up, the houses and street between us were completely picked up and clean. We loved having them all home.”

As the McMorrows were driving back from their youngest son Christopher’s college graduation, they knew it was a red-letter day in their lives. Soon they downsized from the Woodhaven home, which had proved more challenging than expected. In 1987 they moved to Epping Forest where, like Goldilocks, they subsequently tried out three different homes until finding exactly the right condominium to accommodate their grandchildren’s sleepovers. A bonus was that Epping was even closer to the Cannons.

Soon after her sister and brother-in-law moved to Jacksonville, Selby and her husband George Frederick “Fred” Kaiser, came for an Easter visit and ended up house-hunting. Fred Kaiser had retired from Fort Monroe, Virginia where he was a Colonel in Field Artillery. The Kaisers returned to Virginia, made retirement plans and in 1983 moved to 9475 Woodhaven Road at the opposite end from the McMorrows.

Fred Kaiser began a successful second career in Jacksonville as a legal administrator for several law firms over the next 23 years. He retired for the second time in 2006.

The Kaisers lived five years on Woodhaven, five years in the Villages of San Jose and eventually traded that house for a riverfront St. Johns County home. Their current Epping Forest condominium is next door to the McMorrows.

Kin Cannon is used to seeing double when it comes to his sisters, yet he swears he could always tell them apart. He said they are his personal dynamic duo and have always been protective of him. They are brilliant, individually unique, inseparable, and have an astonishing mental and emotional connection that amazes everyone, said Cannon.

“They showed up in similar colors, clothing or the same hairstyle to family gatherings, even when they lived on different continents. They seemed to always know what the other was thinking or feeling,” he said.

“We always had a strong mental telepathy and connection no matter how far apart we were living,” Linda McMorrow said. “We often call each other at the same time…our mother said we sent her the same birthday cards or gifts. When Tom and I moved to California and Selby and Fred were stationed at Auburn University, we talked at least once a week. Long distance calls then were expensive, and we could never just talk for a few minutes, so Tom strongly suggested I limit the long distance calls.

“I tried, until I started to have a strong feeling that I needed to call Selby. I waited a week until Tom was so tired of my comments about missing my phone time with Selby he said to go ahead and call her. It turned out she had been trying to reach me, but only had Tom’s office number and everyone did not have answering machines back then. Not only was she worried about not being able to reach us, she wanted us to know that a dear friend was wounded in Vietnam and would be recovering at an Army hospital near us. Her husband Fred, was serving in Vietnam at that time. I understood why I had felt such a need to call her. She needed me,” Linda said.

The identical twins, just 4 feet 11 inches tall, often answer questions with the same words. The only visible difference between them is that each wears a slightly different hair style or clothing. Their brother recalled they have enjoyed playing jokes on people who could not tell them apart.

As children, the twins used to softly sing old songs like “Side By Side” and “Blue Skies.” Selby sings soprano melody and Linda sings alto harmonies, although neither had formal training other than church and school choirs. They sang duets together as children and often sang themselves to sleep at night.

“They would rock in tandem harmonizing when we rode in the car. We didn’t need the radio on, we had the twins!” Cannon said.

The twins enjoy reminiscing about attending not one, but three different high schools. The last was in Pennsylvania only for their senior year and 1958 graduation.

“It was really just like the ‘Happy Days’ television show,” they said. “We got together with classmates after school, drank Coca Cola and ate hard pretzels…we never had tasted a hard pretzel until then.”

The McMorrows married on September 3, 1960 at Fort Myer, Virginia U.S. Army Base (renamed Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall in 2005). They have two sons, Thomas Francis McMorrow, Jr. and Christopher Cannon McMorrow, and three grandchildren.    

Selby Kaiser and Linda McMorrow with their needlepoint

Selby Kaiser and Linda McMorrow with their needlepoint

In 1962 Selby Cannon graduated from FSU and taught second grade in Fayetteville, North Carolina. She met Fred Kaiser when both attended Episcopal services at the main post chapel at Ft. Bragg. They married six months later on April 20, 1963 in that chapel and have two children, Frederick Thomas Combs “TC” Kaiser and Lara Elizabeth (Kaiser) Pierce, and three grandchildren.

The families have been volunteers, supporting community organizations and charities while stationed at Army bases, through their churches and Northeast Florida Realtors’ Association, including American Red Cross, HabiJax, Sulzbacher Center, Fresh Ministries, Operation New Hope, DANIEL and its Independent Living Village, WomanadeJax, The Cummer Museum and the Museum of Contemporary Art Jacksonville.

The twins enjoy needlepoint, which they learned in college from their FSU Alpha Delta Pi Sorority house mother, who assured them that “idle hands are the devil’s workshop.” They describe themselves as “former needlepoint addicts” and refer to their passion as a BRE – Before Real Estate Hobby. The sisters create their own design patterns, have taught needlepoint and have at least 10 in-progress projects waiting for completion.

A perfect example of the twins’ creativity is the business luncheon Kaiser was hosting years ago, when she decided to make birdhouses for table centerpieces and door prizes. She asked McMorrow to help.

“I said, oh sure Selby, I’d love to help with that,” McMorrow said. “What I did not know was that she was making 45 of them, one for each table and hand-painting birds, flowers and a unique design on each birdhouse! I ended up painting on base coats…they were works of art and so beautiful everyone at the luncheon wanted one.”

These days Cannon spends with his wife and three grandchildren, and enjoys walking their Golden Retriever puppy, Lucy, in the neighborhood. While their spouses enjoy retirement, Linda and Selby are still hard at work. They have been Realtors for more than 30 years and have earned more credentials, honors and held more professional association positions than can possibly be listed.

In 2006 they opened their firm, The Legends of Real Estate. Their career choice fits like a glove, because it is likely that few people could value, cherish and understand the idea of home more than these two, who spent most of their lives moving.

By Julie Kerns Garmendia
Resident Community News

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