Friday, June 14, 2013

Great Dad from the Greatest Generation

On July 21, 2013 my father turned 95 years old. He was living in a nursing home for veterans in Land o Lakes, Florida near Tampa. Artist, athlete, veteran, family man, business man and a genuine role model. You learn a lot being around a guy like that. As near as I can tell, he's the sort that rises to every occasion and every challenge. He made it look easy. On August 20, 2013 he left us. (He will be missed.) 

James O’Connell Morgan was born July 21, 1918.  An artist, veteran of WWII, loyal husband and father, Jim Morgan was founder of Morgan Studio in Cleveland, Ohio, the advertising, art and photography business he started and ran for the better part of four decades. Later in life, he lived in the village of Key Biscayne in Miami, Florida and Keller, Texas with his wife Mary until her passing in 2011. He then moved to Tampa, Florida.    

He Graduated from St. Ignatius High School in Cleveland. (He was an average student, but showed early talent as a promising artist and illustrator.)

He Graduated from John Carroll University where he was a Three-year letter winner and two-year starter as both offensive and defensive lineman on John Carroll's first and only Big Four championship team in 1939. Team's record was 13-3-1 (.794) in his two years as a starter.(He was 60-minute Morgan at John Carroll University in Cleveland). Years after he graduated, he was installed in JCU’s sports Hall of Fame.

He studied at Pratt Institute of Design in New York where he began to solidify his career path before the call of military duty caused him to take a detour. The year at Pratt and the time he spent in New York City influenced him greatly.

He was a soldier during World War II. First enlisting and later entering officer candidate school (OCS). He served as a leader of a camouflage unit and led Black troops (at a time when the army was still segregated). He went wherever they asked him to go and yet was able to stay out of harm’s way. He served his country with honor for over four years.

After his time in the U.S. Army, he began his career at Malmquist Studio as a commercial artist until he left to to start his own business in Cleveland, Ohio. He founded Morgan Studio in 1951 as “the architects of the printed page.” He was convinced that design was a noble and worthy profession. Along the way, Morgan Studio
served a roster of blue chip clients including Ohio Bell Telephone, Youngstown Steel Door, Cleveland Electric Illuminating Company, L’erin Cosmetics, Ernst & Ernst, Glidden Paint, Stouffers Restaurants, Lake Erie Screw Corporation, Mooney Chemicals, Cleveland Federal Savings and Bonne Bell Cosmetics.

He was a devoted husband to Mary Francis Lawton Morgan (married in December of 1942 –Mary died May 2011). They were married for almost 70 years.

James O’C. Morgan and his wife had six children: Sundance (formerly James O’Connell Morgan Jr. – born 1944), Mary Lynn (born 1952), Wesley (born 1955), Gregory (born 1956), Daniel (Born 1958) and Robert Morgan (born 1959).  

He has nine grandchildren:

Lynn’s children
James O’Connell Varney*
Philip Varney

Wes’ children
Lindsey Lawton Morgan
John Benjamin Morgan

Greg’s children
Wesley Morgan
Matthew Morgan

Rob’s children
Megan Morgan
Tara Morgan
Kevin Morgan

* Jimmy Varney and his wife Susan have two children -  a girl and a boy: Colleen and Lane.

Dut-Duts. Ferris Wheel in the Flats. Old Rocks. Lake Erie Fresh Water. Snake Oil. Water Colors of beaches, lighthouses and horses. Cartoons and Christmas books. In the cold gray dawn when the stars were gone. Ohio Bell. Bonne Belle. Mooney Chemical. Youngstown Steel Door. Morgan Studio Black Pencils. Razor Blades. Captain Linguini. The 8-year plan.And Bang? (Game over.) John Carroll University HoF. WWII Camoflague Impressario. Great Dad from the Greatest Generation.  

I had a dream last night, I dreamed
I had to pick a Mother out.
I had to choose a Father too.
At first I wondered what to do,
There were so many there is seemed,
Short and tall and thin and stout.
But just before I sprang awake,
I knew what parents I had to take.
And this surprised me and made me glad:
They were the ones I always had!
(Andre by Gwendolyn Brooks)





Dan Morgan said...

...and 2 great grandchildren, Colleen and Lane.

Bill Ellis said...

What a beautiful tribute to your Father Wes. Thanks for sharing.