Mar 212005
Authors: Joanna Thomas

A memorial service filled with thanks and gratitude rather than mourning the life of one of CSU's longest-serving presidents, President Emeritus William E. Morgan took place Monday afternoon.

Rev. Robert Geller officiated the service and said the greatest tribute to Morgan is not loss or grief, but gratitude and thanks to him and the God who gave him life.

"We gather to celebrate a long life that was well lived," Geller said.

The service focused on the triumphs and successes during his lifetime, especially during his tenure at CSU. About 200 community members, faculty and a few students filled the University Center for the Arts, including former CSU president Albert Yates.

Attendees sang the hymn "For the Beauty of the Earth," which according to Geller described Morgan through and through and a string quartet featuring Chris Jusell, Tanya Runkin, Dallin Kuzmmich and Peter Linder also played.

According to Geller, President Morgan lived a life filled with service, teaching, exciting adventures, both here and overseas and a life dedicated to promoting higher education.

"He is not here, but in gratitude he is," Geller said.

Jim Johnson, who delivered one of two tributes, spoke of the numerous accomplishments Morgan achieved while at CSU.

According to Johnson, the campus itself grew enormously during Morgan's 20 years, from about 3,800 students and 242 faculty members in 1949 to over 16,000 students and 739 faculty members in 1969. Two-hundred and eighty seven buildings were built on campus in that 20 year period.

"He wanted CSU to become a major university, not just an agriculture school," Johnson said.

Johnson said Morgan knew students, alums, farmers, ranchers and professors who were still calling on him 36 years after he was retired and spoke of Morgan's attraction and the reason for his constant string of visitors.

"At a celebration of life of a person who lived almost 96 years there usually isn't very many people at the memorial service," Johnson said.

Johnson accredited the high numbers and many friends to Morgan's genuine affection, priceless sense of humor, optimism and love for his children and grandchildren.

"Bill Morgan was a friend, benefactor and inspiration never to be forgotten," Johnson said.

Tom Sutherland, a former CSU professor, delivered the second tribute to Morgan. He said Morgan built upon the foundation laid by the other presidents.

"Being a president was his life and (his wife) Lilith's life. Together they nurtured CSU and raised a fine family," Sutherland said.

Sutherland remembered some of the more tumultuous times Morgan encountered during his tenure, including his administration being challenged by a former editor of the Collegian, John Clyde.

"He never tried to censor students or prevent them from exercising free speech," Sutherland said.

In fact, according to Sutherland, Morgan even offered food to students who were protesting on his front lawn.

Geller ended the service thanking the workers and helpers of Morgan, including family, friends, medical staff, caregivers and colleagues.

Morgan is survived by his family Dorcas and John Murray; Laura, Cody, Bill and Shane Laycook; Carol, Tim, Tatum and Trina Cochran; Axson and Bryan Morgan; Octavia Morgan and Tamarie Spielman; and Darcy, Kathryn and Will Morgan.

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