Robert Morgan, advocate for ECU, passes

From 1975 to 1981, East Carolina alum Robert Morgan rose in his unforeseen political career to President Pro Tempore of the State Senate, to N.C. Attorney General, then to U.S. Senator. In the above photo, taken during Jimmy Carter’s administration as United States President, Morgan (left) is on board Air Force One — sitting in the President’s seat! He described the photo thus: “We were flying across North Carolina. [The President] had been walking around the plane and I sat in his seat. When he came back in, I started to get up. He said, ‘No. I’ll sit right here.’ — on the floor. You probably will never see another picture [of] a freshman Senator in the President’s seat and the President sitting on the floor.” Morgan, a key figure in a number of milestones in his alma mater's history, passed away on Saturday at 90. (Photo submitted by the Morgan family for the 2007 edition of Bonesville The Magazine.)



Editor's note: The articles about Robert Morgan linked below were published in 2007 in that year's edition of Bonesville The Magazine and on this site, respectively.


The Battle for East Carolina: Leo’s Field General Tells All

Football coaches sometimes say, “It’s not the size of the dog in the fight, but the size of the fight in the dog,” when describing the value of heart and perseverance in adverse circumstances.

“I was always too small to play any ball,” said former United States Senator Robert Morgan, who graduated from East Carolina when it was a vastly different center of higher learning.

Despite limited stature, Morgan emerged victorious from many a political dogfight, some of which were essential cornerstones in East Carolina’s progression from its origins as a training ground for teachers. ... More from Al Myatt (from the 2007 edition of Bonesville the Magazine)...

Don't take the 'chip' lightly

Did you ever wonder about the genuine origin of that collective chip on the shoulder that is associated with East Carolina partisans?

Even among those of us who matriculated at ECU in the 'sixties and 'seventies, there are many who misguidedly think of the chip's history in relation to athletics. ... More from Danny Whitford (from in 2007)...

By Al Myatt
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Robert Morgan confided in a 2007 interview that he went to East Carolina because his family couldn't afford for him to go to nearby Campbell.

Morgan, who succumbed Saturday at age 90 after a lengthy career in political service and private law practice, was one of six children who grew up in house that didn't have running water or electricity.

Despite those circumstances, education was valued in the Morgan family. An older sister, Ester, enrolled at East Carolina Teachers College before Morgan arrived at the Greenville institution in 1942.

Morgan recalled that annual tuition at ECTC at that time was $300.

He met his wife-to-be, Katie, after supper one night on campus when she broke in as he was jitterbugging with another coed.

After a wartime hitch in the Navy, Morgan graduated in 1947. His political career began the following year while he was in his first year of law school at Wake Forest — on the old campus. A group of Harnett County power brokers asked him to run for Clerk of Court and Morgan emerged triumphant after a grassroots campaign.

Morgan won election to the State Senate after one term as Clerk of Court and teamed with former East Carolina College President, Dr. Leo Jenkins, in legislative battles that resulted in university status for his alma mater as well as a much-needed medical school for the region.

Morgan's effective style in dealing with the entrenched status quo resulted in political momentum that helped him become North Carolina Attorney General and subsequently a United States Senator from 1975 to 1981.

He served one term in Washington as health issues prevented him from campaigning full scale for a second term.

Morgan served nine terms as chairman of the board of trustees at ECU.

He also served as Director of the State Bureau of Investigation before returning to his hometown of Lillington to practice law. His office on Front Street showed Morgan in photographs with five Presidents, a testimony to his status as a well-connected mover and shaker on the national scene during that portion of his professional life.

Morgan was surrounded by family as he passed away at his home in Harnett County.

Funeral arrangements are to be announced today by the O'Quinn-Peebles Funeral Home of Lillington.

07/17/2016 02:55 PM