Johnny D. Morgan, 96, a resident of Portales for over seventy-five years, passed away peacefully May 9, 2013, at the home of his daughter and son-in-law in Albuquerque. Funeral services will be at 2:00, Thursday, May 16, 2013, at Wheeler Mortuary in Portales, with Rev. Michael Brunk officiating. Burial, with military honors, will follow in the Portales Cemetery, next to his wife of 64 years, Oma Dene Graham Morgan. They were married August 28, 1943.
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Serving as pallbearers are Gordon Little; Addison Morgan; Scott Little; Hubert Morgan, Jr.; Celesta Morgan Ernst, Mickey Morgan; Roland Morgan; and Eric Koontz. Honorary pallbearers are Gene Wise; Maybeth Wise Bradshaw; Jay Brown; Colonel Mike Woolley (USAF, Ret'd); Stuart Ingle; Glen Howl, and Beth Little.
Johnny was born May 2, 1917, to M.C. and Hattie Wise Morgan at their Taiban, NM homestead. The Morgan family lived in Arkansas and several places in Texas before returning to New Mexico and settling in Portales.
Johnny loved sports and was an avid Dallas Cowboys fan. He played most sports in school; football was his favorite. He was quite an athlete playing both halfback and defensive back. He played for Willis, TX, Clovis (under coaches Rock Staubus and Al Garten), and Mineral Wells, TX. During a Mineral Wells game at Ft. Worth Johnny broke his neck which ended his school and football careers.
Johnny was one of the original Roosevelt County National Guard members called to active duty in January 1941. Fourteen of those soldiers became part of the 804th Tank Destroyer Battalion of the Fifth Army which saw combat in North Africa and Italy. Thirteen returned home safely from WW II. The 804th was the first Allied unit to enter and liberate Rome in 1944. As a combat medic, Johnny treated many soldiers and civilians, wore out 3 jeeps during the war, and was awarded the Bronze Star for his courage while evacuating wounded U.S soldiers to safety during an artillery barrage. Johnny was the last remaining veteran of those original 14 Roosevelt County soldiers in the 804th TDB.
After the war, he came back to Portales. With his love of sports, he was one who raised money to purchase part of the old H-BAR ranch to build a golf course which became the Portales Country Club. 100 members paid $25 each and built the course themselves. In the early years, members could play all day for free. Johnny played in many tournaments, winning a collection of trophies.
Johnny joined his dad and brother Hubert Sr. in the real estate business (M. C. Morgan and Sons). Johnny would also buy a house, fix it, and move in it until he could sell it. Oma Dene said they moved 44 times. After selling real estate, he worked at the Portales Post Office until his retirement. After Oma Dene retired from teaching, they traveled in almost every state, including Alaska. They both said they would not trade Portales for any place they saw.
Johnny and Oma Dene worked hard and devoted their lives to their children and their families. They supported them in their school activities and sports. Education and hard work were valued and emphasized, as was the uniqueness of each person. They provided many opportunities through the years and were proud of each one's success.
Johnny is survived by daughter, Dr. Kay Morgan and Dr. Joy Griffin of Albuquerque; son, Bob and Linda (Hobbs) Morgan of Fort Collins, CO.; daughter Sandra and Gordon Little of Albuquerque; three grands, Kimberly and Eric Koontz, Aurora, CO; Addison Morgan, Fort Collins, CO; and Scott Little, Orlando, FL; and two great-grands, Karter and Riley Koontz.
Johnny was preceded in death by his wife, Oma Dene, and infant daughter, Karen Gayle; his parents, M.C. and Hattie Morgan; brothers, Floyd, Hubert, Sr. (Shorty), and James (Babe); baby sister, Grace; and granddaughter, Amanda Little. (Written by Johnny Morgan, April 26, 2013)
Arrangements are under the direction of Wheeler Mortuary of Portales. 575-356-4455, wheelermortuary.net
Published in the Clovis News Journal and Portales News-Tribune on May 12, 2013
500 East 3rd Street Portales, NM 88130