Sept. 12--For a guy who let his voice soar on the wings of the gospel songs he sung during mission trips to Russia and Croatia, John Morgan didn't do a lot of preaching at home while his kids were growing up under his roof in Westover.
That's because he didn't have to, said Jason Morgan, one of the three in the brood.
"Dad did everything by example," the younger Morgan said, as he was finalizing plans for his father's funeral services today, in Westover. "Everything I learned about being a man, I learned by watching him."
John Morgan, 65, a minister and Westover councilman, died Saturday, in Morgantown, from a heart ailment. His funeral is 1 p.m. today, at Kingdom EM Church, on Fairmont Road.
Morgan was in the middle of a four-year term on council and had also served from 1996-2000. The city has 30 days to fill the seat. If that doesn't happen, a special election will be held.
Jason Morgan, who is a Monongalia County sheriff 's deputy and a Desert Storm veteran, said he was impressed that his father could be steadfast without being stubborn -- be it in politics or interpersonal dealings.
Well, maybe he could be a little stubborn, said Larry Morgan, John's brother and Jason's uncle. Larry, who also pastors at area churches, will help minister his brother's funeral.
John, a U.S. Navy veteran of Vietnam, was nearly nine years into his military service when he felt the call of the faith. He didn't re-enlist. He came back home to spread the gospel.
Larry and other family members tried to get him to change his mind. If he stayed in the military for 20 years, he'd be rewarded with a good pension, they reasoned.
John, though, said then he was more about checking souls rather than checks in the mail. His reward, he said, would come from hard work and the hope of making a spiritual difference.
"We'd say, 'John, you've got 8 1/2 years. Why don't you stay in?' " Larry recalled. "He'd say, 'No, I really need to do this.' "
Larry said it was part of what he called "the bulldog faith" that defined his brother. "He wasn't afraid to stand up for what was right. He had some knockdowns, but he always got back up. Always."
John went on to earn a master's in theology, while carving out a 35-year career in the insurance business. He also pastored at Fairmont Church of God, in Marion County.
Westover Mayor Dave Johnson said he always saw a little bit of the clergyman in the councilman.
"John and I didn't agree on everything," Johnson said, "and I enjoyed having him on council for that. He was a good man who cared about his city. There weren't many personal agendas with John. If the vote didn't go his way, he wouldn't make a mess about it. He'd go on."
Just as long as he wasn't watching the Mountaineers or Steelers on TV, his son said. Then, he might let his voice soar in righteous indignation over a bad call or belly-up play.
"He'd jump up and yell at the screen," Jason said. Judy, John's wife of 47 years, would call her husband by his middle name to get his attention, Jason recalled laughing.
"She'd say, 'Ron, will you sit down and relax? It's just a football game.' "
(c)2012 The Dominion Post (Morgantown, W.Va.)
Visit The Dominion Post (Morgantown, W.Va.) at www.dominionpost.com
Distributed by MCT Information Services