FAIR BLUFF — Bob Morgan, 79, passed away Tuesday, Aug. 12, 2014 at McLeod Hospice House, Florence, S.C.
He was born in Columbus County, March 9, 1935 in the old Mollie Drake house along Railroad Street in Fair Bluff.
Bob was the son of the late Claude and Annie Mae Simmons Morgan and the grandson of the late Lon and Artie Howell Simmons. He was preceded in death by one brother, Howell Manard Morgan; and a niece, Ellen Morgan Price.
Mr. Morgan graduated from Fair Bluff High School with honors, including being judged best artist, in competition with all the high schools in the county. Ironically, he never had an art lesson. After graduation he married his high school sweetheart Dorothy “Dot” Powell from Marietta. The couple had two daughters, Cindy and Shelia.
Morgan loved his hometown and became active in many organizations to further support his town. His first professional job came in local radio, at WFMO in Fairmont; he later worked at WENC in Whiteville and WTAB in Tabor City. In 1967, he along with Carl Meares and Marion Davis founded WWKO, a 1000 watt AM station in Fair Bluff. When the station was sold in 1981 he began his first venture in journalism. He and his family founded the Myrtle Beach Journal, a local newspaper in Myrtle Beach, S.C.
In 1988, he returned to Fair Bluff and founded the Fair Bluff Times newspaper, which was later merged with the Columbus County News in Chadbourn, at which time it became The News Times.
Mr. Morgan had a long history of community service and won the State Governor’s Award for volunteer service. He became a member of the Fair Bluff Rotary Club in 1967, and served as its president three times. During his first term as president he established the “Citizen of the Year” award. This was designed to recognize a person or persons who had demonstrated outstanding citizenship in the community.
In 1981, he and Burnett Coleman founded the Greater Fair Bluff Chamber of Commerce and through the years has served as its president three times.
One of his proudest achievements was founding the Greater Fair Bluff Historical Society in the late 1980’s. He called a meeting of interested citizens to meet him at Bullard’s Restaurant. By the time he called the meeting to order, the room was full of people who liked the idea. One of the most enthusiastic was Bettie Renfrow, who he later asked to be co-chairman of the group. Bettie accepted the position and a board of directors was appointed to steer the society. The rest has been a series of successful projects.
In the early 1990’s and working through the newly formed historical society, Bob fulfilled another lifelong dream, that of establishing a museum in Fair Bluff. He personally went to see Carl Meares Jr. and asked if he would consider donating the old train depot to the the historical society to be used as a depot museum. Meares agreed to do so. Bob immediately began plans to move it to its present location. There was a lot of enthusiasm for the depot museum but money was short. To finance the museum, Bob designed display cabinets and went over town and sold sponsorship and memorials on the cabinets totaling $20,000.
This gave the group enough money to keep the idea afloat. Today, the museum is noted to be one of the finest in the state. It has been featured in the State magazine and the Raleigh News and Observer.
Bob called his project for the museum a “labor of love.” It’s a 25-foot long replica of Old Fair Bluff as it was in the early 1900s. The display begins with Mack Elvington’s Old Hotel (now the local senior center) and continues down Main Street by Roger’s Drug Store to Scotty Theatre, where “Gone with the Wind” is now showing on the marquee. After that, there’s Floyd-Anderson Drug Store, G&G 5&10 cents Store on down to Scott Motor Company. It took him about a year to complete. “I had to design and construct every piece that went into it from old photographs,” he said.
Bob was a member of Fair Bluff United Methodist Church, where he taught Sunday school for several years. He served as a Zoning Board member, and had served on various committees with the Chamber of Commerce and the Rotary Club. He also received an award from the Chadbourn Chamber of Commerce for meritorious service to Chadbourn. He was also a member of the Fair Bluff Watermelon Grower’s Association, where he served as publicity chairman.
The family will receive friends from 6-8 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 13 at Meares Funeral Home, Fair Bluff. Final rites will be held at 11 a.m. Thursday, Aug. 14 at Fair Bluff United Methodist Church with Dr. Ray Lundy and Rev. Neill Smith officiating. Burial will be in Powell Cemetery.
Mr. Morgan is survived by his wife, Dot; two children, Cindy Morgan Buffkin and husband, Chadwick, of Florence, S.C., Shelia Morgan Godwin and husband, Kent, of Cerro Gordo; three grandchildren, Bobby Godwin and wife, Heather, Drema G. Nance and husband, William, and Erica Morgan Buffkin; and five great-grandchildren, Kloey, Noah, Skylar, Alex and Lyllian.
Memorials may be made to Fair Bluff United Methodist Church, P.O. Box 492, Fair Bluff, N.C. 28439.
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