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W. Edward MORGAN


1923 - 2017
W. Edward MORGAN Obituary
MORGAN, W. Edward Was born on January 25, 1923, in New York City and died on September 20, 2017, in Tucson at 94. Because of a disability in childhood, he spent long periods in children's orthopedic hospitals and remembers meeting Eleanor Roosevelt when she read to the children in his ward. He and his mother, Mae Morgan, came to Tucson in 1935 because of his health. He attended Safford Elementary, Roskruge Junior High, and Tucson High School graduating from the University of Arizona College of Law in 1945. College dormitories being segregated at the time, he was nearly thrown out of the University for helping to organize an interracial dorm off campus. A civil liberties and criminal defense lawyer for most of his career, he often represented individuals for nothing or whatever they could pay. In countless federal and state court decisions, his legal work vindicated constitutional guarantees and addressed injustices experienced by his clients. Always a passionate and brilliant advocate he did not stop fighting for his client until every possible avenue of relief was exhausted. He represented a broad range of people in criminal cases, public employee rights, laborers and labor unions, immigrant rights, blacklisted individuals, Selective Service draftees, and military personnel. At one time in the 1960's he represented every man on death row (14) in Arizona. He represented the NAACP when Tucson District 1 (TUSD) integrated the public schools in 1951. In 1964 he went to the South on two occasions as part of Mississippi Summer representing African Americans who were fighting for the right to vote. His most well-known victory was the U.S. Supreme Court landmark decision in Elfbrandt v. Russell (1966) in which he represented a public school teacher who refused to sign Arizona's loyalty oath. In the same year he won another Supreme Court case, Westbrook v. Arizona (1966), in which a murder conviction was overturned on the ground that the defendant, who had waived his constitutional right to assistance of counsel, had never received a hearing to determine his competence Morgan was a lifelong opponent of capital punishment believing that, "To hold unto and expand capital punishment corrupts the collective soul of society, and everything else is tainted by it." He founded a free draft counseling service during the Vietnam era training counselors and advising those facing the draft. He served as a Tucson City Magistrate from 1976 to 1978, prefacing each court session with a friendly talk about citizenship and the rights of defendants. Once a faculty member and chair of the faculty of Antioch Law School (Washington, D.C.), he encouraged his law students and young attorneys to pursue civil rights work. For a time, he served as an Assistant Attorney General for Arizona in the civil rights division. He loved reading, wrote poetry, drew cartoons and was a painter in his youth. As a child he was a soloist in boy's choirs and continued singing in choruses as an adult. He was honored by many civic and civil rights organizations, over the years -National Lawyers Guild, ACLU, the Democratic Party, Jefferson Award, The Arizona Center for Law in the Public Interest. He was a vestryman at St. Michael and All Angels for many years. After discovering his Jewish heritage late in life, he was active in Jewish congregations and was bar mitvahed at 84 at Temple Emanu-El. Preceded in death by his mother, Mae C. Morgan and his wife, Eve Kessinger Morgan. He is survived by his children, Katharine Gregg Morgan of Callahan, Florida, Bruce Morgan and Aaron Desmond Morgan of Tucson and Paul Morgan of Kuna, Idaho, and his second wife, Barbara Elfbrandt. Arrangemetns by ADAIR FUNERAL HOMES, Dodge Chapel and Temple Emanu-El. Donations may be made to Death Penalty Alternatives for Arizona, Samaritans, Emerge Center Against Domestic Abuse, or Scholarship Fund for the A Mountain Community Association. There will be a Celebration of his Life Saturday, November 25, 2017, 2:00 p.m. - 4:00 p.m. at the University of Arizona College of Law, 1201 East Speedway, in Tucson.
Published in the Arizona Daily Star on Sept. 22, 2017
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