Robert Morgan – A Man for All Seasons

Last Tuesday was a terrific evening celebrating once again the remarkable Robert Morgan.  Before I tell you about Robert the person, let me tell you about his legal and political career.  A graduate of Wake Forest Law School, Robert was quickly elected Clerk of Court in his native Harnett County.  Then, as a practicing lawyer in Lillington, he was many times elected to the North Carolina Senate where he ultimately became the majority leader.  Elected Attorney General in 1968, Robert started the office’s Consumer Protection Division, the North Carolina Justice Academy, which helps to train law enforcement, and basically modernized the State Bureau of Investigation.

In 1974, Robert was elected to succeed Sen. Sam Ervin in the United States Senate, where he served one full term. After several years in private law practice, he again agreed to serve North Carolina as the Director of the State Bureau of Investigation.

For many years, Robert was a Trustee of the Smithsonian Institution and was its strong supporter.

And if this isn’t enough, for many years, Robert was the Chairman of the Trustees of East Carolina University and was a major force in that University’s development of a medical school in Greenville.

But all these accomplishments are not the reason so many folks came to honor him yet again at the 42nd Street Oyster Bar in Raleigh when they put U.S. Senate #2 on the wall.  No, it was because of the man Robert Morgan has always been…honest to a fault, innovative and forward thinking, and the best friend many of us have ever had.

There were so many good friends there that to mention a few would run the risk of leaving someone out, and as Judge DuPree used to say, “you know who you are”.

But all of this is so personal to me.  You see, Robert Morgan gave me my first job out of law school in the Attorney General’s office, helped me become an Assistant United States Attorney and recommended me for a permanent position as United States Attorney to then President Carter. 

But most of all, when I got in trouble years ago, he was there for me.  He never wavered, not one time…never.  And then the first day I was in his law office on work release, when I told him people might not want me there because I wasn’t too high just then on the social ladder in Raleigh, he said to me, “You know, Jim, if people don’t like it, they can kiss my you know what.  What kind of friend would I be if I was only there when you were on top and not there for you now?” 

That is unconditional friendship. That is who he is. And he is that for everyone who was there at the Oyster Bar this week and for countless others.  He is and will always be…truly…a man for all seasons.


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