Nevada Guardsman takes his change to Virginia City church |

Nevada Guardsman takes his change to Virginia City church

Karen Woodmansee
Appeal Staff Writer
Karen Woodmansee/Nevada Appeal Nick Nicosia, administrator of St. Mary in the Mountains Catholic Church, shows the coins in a silver tin donated by National Guard Sgt. David Morris at the Bank of America branch in Virginia City on Tuesday.

A love of history and the knowledge that his mother’s family came from Virginia City, compelled a Reno man to donate a silver cookie tin full of change to St. Mary in the Mountains Catholic Church.

Sgt. David Morris, of Reno, said an ex-girlfriend gave him the cookie tin.

“She always put her pocket change in it,” he said. “She gave it to me and told me it was for my sweet tooth.”

Instead, he put his change in it and two years later, found that he had $327.50 saved up.

Morris had heard of St. Mary in the Mountains attempt to raise $700,000 in matching funds to qualify for Save America’s Treasures National Park Service Grant to restore the historic church, and last month brought up the coins to be put toward that purpose said church administrator Nick Nicosia.

St. Mary also operates the Mad Monk Wine Cellar, the proceeds from which are put toward the restoration effort.

Morris said he loves Virginia City, ghost towns and history; also his mother’s family is from the mining town.

“They had to leave due to my uncle,” he said. “He wasn’t a role model of sorts.”

He said St. Mary needs to be preserved.

Morris, 30, is a police officer for the Defense Department at the Sierra Army Depot in Herlong, Calif., when he’s not in uniform for the Nevada National Guard. He avoided deployment to Iraq with the rest of the 539th because he transferred from the Yerington unit after they deployed.

“I didn’t make it to Iraq,” he said. “I just transferred to motor transportation.”

Morris was a gunner on an M-1 tank at the Yerington unit, but said the unit was going mechanized and didn’t need him anymore.

His sister is a combat medic in Iraq now, and Morris said he wouldn’t be surprised if he ended up there as well, driving trucks and escorting convoys.

“It’s something that you got to do,” he said.

For now though, he’ll take Geiger Grade to Virginia City, then head down Six Mile Canyon Road to see his parents, who live in Silver Springs.

“It’s a peaceful drive,” he said.

• Contact reporter Karen Woodmansee at or 882-2111 ext. 351.

You can help

To donate to St. Mary in the Mountains, call (775) 847-9099.


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