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Morgan honored in ceremony

Balloons lined the recently-renamed J.W. Morgan Way and signsinside the St. Paul M.B. Church Community Life Center proclaimedSaturday’s honoree as a “Hero” and “True Man of God.”

As Morgan watched from a short distance away, friends, fellowchurch members and other speakers reflected on the impact he hashad on them and his community. Morgan’s ever-present smile was afrequent focus of their comments.

“When he smiles, it’s genuine…,” said Jack Rutland, seniorvice president of State Bank and Trust, where Morgan worked formore than 30 years. “This is an expression of a great man with abig heart and a big faith.”

Rutland recalled Morgan as always being the first to arrive forwork at the bank, his walk with the Lord and his ministering tothousands through a Sunday morning Christian radio program and hisdelivering Poinsettias to nursing home residents at Christmas.Rutland said Morgan’s greatest quality was his commitment to hiswife Elouise, who died earlier this year.

Others also spoke about what Morgan meant to them.

“I’m grateful to him for being the role model for so manypeople,” said Willie “Doc” Harrison, who lives near Morgan on whatwas formerly North Third Street.

Following a parade through the neighborhood, Saturday’s ceremonywas to dedicate the section of the street and to honor Morgan forhis service. The Board of Aldermen earlier this year voted torename the street in honor of the former Ward One alderman whoserved from 1977-97.

“There’s nobody more deserving of a street being named for himthan J.W. Morgan,” said Ward Six Alderman John “Buddy” Allen.

Current Ward One Alderman Dorsey Cameron, who succeeded Morganon the board, said something good can always be said about someoneafter they are dead. He was pleased, though, to be able to talkabout Morgan while he is still alive and can hear it.

“I always admired him for the person he was…,” said Cameron,speaking of Morgan’s love for God, his family and his hometown. “Ithas been an honor and pleasure to know such a man.”

An illness prevented Morgan from staying for the entireceremony, but organizers said it was being taped so he could see itlater. As he left, Morgan said he loved everybody and appreciatedthem for coming.

“I just can’t thank everybody enough,” Morgan said. “I’m sograteful.”

Friends and neighbors in the audience at Saturday’s event alsospoke highly of Morgan.

“He’s a great man, always there when you need him, and a goodneighbor,” said Brookhaven Police Det. Bobby Bell.

Dorcas Mae Thompson, a former classmate of Morgan’s at AlexanderHigh School, said he never had a problem with anyone.

“Every time I saw him with somebody, he was smiling, laughingand talking,” Thompson said. “He was the same person all thetime.”