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Shepherdstown honors former fire chief

October 22, 2000|By BOB PARTLOW

Shepherdstown honors former fire chief



SHEPHERDSTOWN, W.Va. - The Rev. James Embrey held up a lengthy newspaper obituary of D. Lee Morgan Sunday afternoon and marveled at how much the former chief of the Shepherdstown Volunteer Fire Department did with his life.

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"Look at the legacy this man has left us," Embrey told the packed New Street United Methodist Church.

Pews on the main floor and balcony were filled. The seated mourners were surrounded by uniformed fire and emergency service workers.

"This is a man who did a lot of things for a lot of people, " Embrey said. "He was a man of action."

Morgan died Thursday at 72 after a stroke.

Embrey said the huge crowd was a testament to the kind of life Morgan lived - "a man who gave so much back to the community when we're living in a society that says 'I, I, I, me, me, me.'"

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The theme of his community service was universal among those who spoke about him.

"He was unbelievable," said Town Councilman Larry Murphy in an interview. "He did (a great deal) for the town. He got the Fire Department started. He got all the new equipment. He was an unbelievably dedicated person."

"Chief Morgan was a very good and honorable man," said Fred Collis of Shepherdstown, a member of the Shepherdstown Volunteer Fire Department. "He'd do anything for anybody."

"He devoted his whole life to the Fire Department," said Jack Geary, who knew him for 25 years. 'He taught fire safety classes in schools. He'd do anything for the kids."

Morgan had owned a construction company and was active in the state and local chamber of commerce. He participated in dozens of civic, business, and fire-related activities. Among his many honors was being named Jefferson County Citizen of the Year in 1982.

"This man here set an example for a lot of us to follow," Embrey said. "He showed the way."

He added: "He was a man who always said he didn't want to rust out, he wanted to wear out. He saw something in the community that needed to be done and he went ahead and did it."

"He was important in our life," said the Rev. Dee-Ann Dixon. "He offered friendship and a kind deed and a helping hand."

The long procession from the church to Elmwood Cemetery snaked through Shepherdstown, led by two or three dozen fire and emergency vehicles with their lights flashing.

As he was laid to rest, "Taps" was played, followed by a bagpiper intoning "Amazing Grace" while the Fire Department's siren went off nearby.

"It's amazing the amount he gave to others," Geary said. "This community is a better place for his having lived here. I think we all wish people would say that about us when we die."

Said Embrey; "Can you imagine if we had many more Lees what a great place this would be?"

Morgan is survived by his wife, Mary Ann, three sons and eight grandchildren.

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