Morris Cheston Jr., a lawyer as well known for his civic work as for his legal skills, died Sunday, June 5, of a heart attack at home. He was 78 years old.

Mr. Cheston joined the national law firm of Ballard Spahr in 1964. He became a partner in 1971 and senior counsel in 2009. His areas of focuses included securities and corporate law, and legal matters involving the pharmaceutical and biotechnology industries.

One of his many notable achievements in Philadelphia came in 1997 when, as board chairman of Pennsylvania Hospital, he campaigned for and implemented the merger of Pennsylvania Hospital and the University of Pennsylvania Health System into Penn Medicine. He served on Penn Medicine's board of directors and its executive committee until stepping down in 2013.

Mr. Cheston's civic reach extended beyond Pennsylvania Hospital. He held many notable board and membership positions: chairman of the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society and the Philadelphia Flower Show; chairman of the board of the Philadelphia Zoo; director of the New Jersey State Aquarium; chairman of the board of Chestnut Hill Academy; a trustee of Springside School; and a director of what is now the United Way of Greater Philadelphia and Southern New Jersey.

A talented ice hockey player, he tried out for the 1960 U.S. Olympic team. Although he did not qualify, he played for many years afterward for the St. Nicholas Hockey Club and the Wissahickon Skating Club.

He served as a director of the Garden Conservancy, Chestnut Hill, Springside Foundation, and Planned Parenthood of Southeastern Pennsylvania, King's College in Wilkes-Barre, and as a member of the vestry and accounting warden of St. Thomas' Church, Whitemarsh.

He is survived by his wife of 49 years, Cynthia Mitchell Cheston; daughter Melinda; sons Morris III and James II; four grandchildren; and three sisters.