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James Bruce Morgan
Taps Article

Written in parts by Jim Morgan, classmates Mike Daley and Joe Schwar, and his daughter, Marianne. Feb 20, 2017

James Bruce Morgan was born and raised in Cincinnati, Ohio, the oldest of Austin and Elizabeth Morgan’s six children. He graduated from Purcell Marion High School with academic honors and a well-decorated athletic career that included winning the Ohio State HS Football Championship his senior year. Attending West Point was Jim’s lifelong ambition; however, he started his appointment process too late to start immediately after high school.  He attended the University of Cincinnati for one year, where he was a member of Beta Theta Pi Fraternity and ROTC. Both played a large part in his cadet life after he was appointed to West Point the following year. Leadership, ability, imagination, and intelligence were the hallmark of his cadet career.

Plebe year presented few problems for Jim, in large part due to his earlier ROTC training and his natural easy going approach to any situation. His fraternity experience led to his becoming the social leader not only for his Company I-2 classmates, but also virtually anyone he encountered.

He was undoubtedly the cause of much chagrin within the tactical department. There were few trips not marked with a Morgan soiree. Need some under-the-radar West Point gift paraphernalia? JBM was the man to see.

Jim’s athletic ability made him the go-to guy on company intramural teams as I-2 twice dominated the Corps competition for the Banker’s Trophy, a trophy awarded to the cadet company with the best record in all sports during the course of a year. His coaching ability helped the basketball team win the brigade championship.

Following graduation he attended the Field and Air Defense Artillery Officers’ Course. The course began at Ft. Sill, Oklahoma and ended at Ft. Bliss, Texas. This was followed by Airborne, Ranger, and Flight Schools. His was the first class to have all their aviation training at Fort Rucker, Alabama. Five subsequent generals came from that class. This combination of training was matched by only a few classmates and placed him among the most highly trained soldiers in the Army. Succinctly, in the army of that era, saying someone was “Airborne, Ranger, Army Air” said it all.

Jim’s performance as a pilot resulted in his becoming a flight school instructor.  His lifetime love of aviation was obvious. At every opportunity over the years, he wore a baseball-style cap, originally white, but ultimately yellowed with age,   emblazoned with “Aviation” and wings on the front. This drawing card encouraged aviators to stop and get into conversations with him.

During his time at Fort Rucker he met Peggy Tindol. They were married on 12/1/62, which was the same day as the Army-Navy game that year.  They had three daughters: Deborah Morgan Sanders, Cynthia Morgan Moss and Marianne Morgan Persico, and five grandchildren.

While Jim’s military career was short, his dedication to West Point and the Military was deep in his blood. The West Point motto Duty, Honor, Country-truly defined who Jim was. It taught him what he “ought to be” and paved the road for “who he wanted to be and who he became.”

Joining the Meade Paper Company after leaving the Army, he eventually founded, with Peggy, the P.T. Morgan Packaging Company and the P.T. Morgan Paper Company, both of which flourished due to the couple’s combined skill and leadership. 

While Jim and Peggy were successful in their business ventures, they had to weather storms and an ever-changing business climate. Perhaps the biggest storm they faced was Peggy’s unsuccessful battle against cancer, endured with the unflagging spirit that was the hallmark of everything they did together. With Jim by her side until the very end, they kept family and business together. His West Point and Army training aided Jim in such difficult times, as he knew failure was never an option. If a door slammed in his face, he moved on to the next door. He made cold calls until he was 80, always searching for the next new customer. A longtime business consultant said upon his passing, “He didn’t know how to quit.”  Jim continued to oversee the operation of both companies until his death.

Jim loved being around his friends and classmates and tried to attend every Class of ‘58 reunion he could. Everyone who knew Jim knew that once Labor Day rolled around, he would be found on the 50-yard line at West Point’s Michie Stadium cheering on his beloved Black Knights.  He had “The Best” tailgate spot overlooking beautiful Lusk Reservoir and was in his glory having old friends and classmates stop by. His children are aware of his missing only a handful of Army-Navy games since graduation.

To know Jim was to know that three basic things mattered in his life:  family, work and West Point. Whether you called him Dad, Jim, Jimmy, Daddy Jim, Uncle Jim or Mr. Morgan, you always knew who you were going to get. As his daughter stated so eloquently in her eulogy at his funeral, “While our loss and pain is immense, we have such solace and peace knowing that the true honor in his life was his wife Peggy and they are together again.”

Jim had a favorite saying used in WW II to support the pilots and crews of the Army Air Corps. Ground crews were known to say to pilots before takeoff “Y’all Keep ‘Em Flyin.”   Jim said it as a goodbye to his family and friends.

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