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Bar News - August 16, 2017

In Memoriam: Robert I. Morgan, Washington, DC

Robert I. Morgan, 74, died Friday, June 2, 2017 in Washington, DC. The following remembrance was submitted by NH Bar member Richard Foley, also of Washington, DC:

I met Bob Morgan in March 1966. We had both enlisted in the US Marine Corps. I was in my senior year at LaSalle College and Bob had “left” Virginia Military Institute in his fourth year.

We were assigned to the Third Battalion (“Disneyland”). Bob was in the third platoon, two floors above me. After the first week, 12 recruits were selected to be screened for Officer Candidate School (OCS).

Escape from the drill instructors for any time at all was a treat. Bob could call cadence like a drillmaster and our merry group marched from mess hall to mess hall, delaying our return to our platoons as long as possible.

At Infantry Training, Bob and I sealed our friendship. Eventually our orders to OCS arrived. I was assigned to a class ahead of Bob, but our friendship continued at the Basic School. We both requested and received designations as Infantry Officers.

Our next meeting was in Quang Tri. Bob was a platoon commander in 2/26 and I was the Executive Officer of India, 3/26. In December 1967, the entire regiment was sent to Khe Sanh. We would be there for the siege, 77 days under fire, me on Hill 881S and Bob, the 106 Platoon Commander on Hill 495.

We did not see each other again until 1970. We had both left the Marine Corps. Bob was working for New York Life in Washington, DC. After leaving Washington, Bob attended the University of Mississippi, left to work in the Gulf and eventually found his way to Franklin Pierce Law School. He practiced law in New Hampshire until last year, when his cancer was diagnosed with a very dire prognosis.

He started treatment at the VA Hospital in White Water Junction, Vermont. When he learned of his condition, my wife Carol insisted that he transfer his treatment to the VA hospital in Philadelphia and stay with us. Bob was a lifelong bachelor, and with us he would have a solid support group.

Little did we know how solid that support group would become. Shortly after his arrival, we introduced him to our friend, Eleanor, and they started playing bridge together. Determined not to meet his maker as a bachelor, Bob proposed to Eleanor in April.

They were married in Claremont, New Hampshire, on April 22, at the home of Jack and Nancy Yasinski. Jack was the former law partner of Bob and was now a judge. I was the best man, a role I never dreamed of having, and Carol was matron of honor.

Bob and Eleanor intended to leave for Roslyn, Virginia, on May 2 to attend the 50th Reunion of Bob’s Basic Class 5-67, “The Boys of Summer.” By May his condition had deteriorated significantly and Eleanor took him to the VA emergency room. He was admitted that day, but on May 3, he insisted on leaving the hospital and heading for Roslyn. He was definitely attending his reunion.

Coincidentally, Carol and I were going to the Washington, DC, area on May 1. With the assistance of Tom Esslinger, another Khe Sanh vet, we put together a wonderful dinner at a Roslyn restaurant. Attending were Bob and Eleanor, Tom and Sung Esslinger, Dick and Sally Dworsky and several other of Bob’s friends. Despite his pain, this trip invigorated him.

He returned to the hospital May 8 and was transferred to the nursing home May 23 where he died on June 2.

Bob was the recipient of the Bronze Star Medal, two Purple Hearts and all the other Vietnam service medals. He served 19 months in Vietnam.

He was my very best friend for 51 years. He was stubborn beyond description, but the most principled person I ever knew. Those who knew him in New Hampshire found this “died in wool” Southerner an aggressive advocate for “you damn Yankees.”

He never worried about his fee. If you had a legal problem, you had a lawyer.

Bob is survived by his brothers, Elliot, Ronald and Mitchell, his favorite cousin Claudia Simpson and several other cousins, nieces and nephews.

I frequently think about vanishing flags. These are the flags that appear in the newspaper obituaries of WWII and Korean War Veterans. Soon they all will have passed and our flags will replace them.

I will miss Bob terribly, even the arguments we frequently had. Semper Fidelis.

In memory of our colleague, the New Hampshire Bar Association Board of Governors has made a contribution to the NH Bar Foundation.

If you are in doubt about the status of any meeting, please call the Bar Center at 603-224-6942 before you head out.

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