By Allyson Duckworth

John Jordan Morgan, affectionately known as Johnny Morgan, was a man whose life painted the canvas of his community and the state of Mississippi with vibrant hues of generosity, friendship, and vision. His journey was tragically cut short on May 17th, 2023, and resonates deeply within the hearts of those who knew him and the countless lives he touched. Johnny Morgan, doing what he loved more than anything in this world, was piloting his King Air airplane when tragedy struck last May during landing in Fayetteville, Arkansas. The news of his crash sent shockwaves through our community and the state of Mississippi. Speaking of him in the past tense will never feel right, for his spirit and passion for life continue to resonate within us, forever alive in our memories.

Johnny’s roots ran deep in Oxford, Mississippi, where he spent his entire life as a proud Oxonian. His alma mater, the University of Mississippi, held a special place in his heart, evident in his unwavering loyalty and passion for all things Ole Miss. As an alumnus, he bled the university’s iconic red and blue colors, embodying the spirit of a true Rebel. More than a successful businessman, Johnny was a cornerstone of friendship, family, and community. His family, by blood and choice, formed the bedrock of his life.

Johnny’s generosity knew no bounds. Whether quietly aiding a neighbor in need, spearheading community initiatives, or advocating for legislative changes that would benefit all Mississippians, he left an indelible mark of kindness and compassion. His humility was as remarkable as his impact. He often preferred to work behind the scenes, ensuring others’ success and well-being preceded personal recognition.

Johnny Morgan was a master storyteller, a trait inherited from his legendary father, Eddie Mack Morgan, and his Uncle, Shine Morgan. Their storytelling prowess was renowned and passed down through generations, making Johnny a captivating presence in any gathering. His parents, Eddie Mack and Beryl Morgan, hailed from the Mississippi Delta and found each other at Ole Miss, laying the foundation for their family in Oxford’s Avent Acres.

Johnny was also a savvy and meticulous businessman. He approached decisions with careful research and sought advice from like-minded individuals, embodying the philosophy of learning from those who had walked a similar path. In 1987, he and his close friend and business partner David White embarked on a remarkable journey by founding MorganWhite Group. This insurance brokerage would eventually become a national insurance enterprise covering all 50 states. Their story began long before the inception of MorganWhite Group, back in their college days at Ole Miss, where they were members of the Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity. Their friendship blossomed further as they lived together in Jackson after college, sharing not just living space but also a deep bond of camaraderie and shared ambitions. The early days of friendship and partnership were marked by countless hours spent at Harlow’s Donuts in Jackson, MS, where, over coffee, many millions were lost and earned without one dollar leaving the table.

The Morgan Towers on North Lamar Boulevard in Oxford run deep, rooted in Johnny’s family’s history and his vision for the future. The site where The Morgan now stands was once home to the Oxford Laundry, owned by Johnny’s father. When Johnny embarked on developing this property, his initial plan was to create an office space for the Oxford branch of MorganWhite Group. However, he recognized the potential for something greater and transformed it into a mixed-use building. Johnny’s pride as his family name adorned both towers was a testament to the legacy he was building. It was more than a project for Johnny; it symbolized his commitment to his roots and community.

Having had a deep passion for politics, Johnny once said, “If you’re not involved in politics, it’s still involved in you.” He emphasized the importance of staying informed about local, state, and national issues and encouraged active participation through voting. While he may not have seen himself as a mentor, he was exactly that and much more. His political journey included serving as State Senator from 1984 to 1992, representing Lafayette, Yalobusha, and Calhoun counties. Later, he was elected to the Lafayette County Board of Supervisors for District 2, where he served as President for several years.

An event close to Johnny’s heart was the Good Ole Boy’s and Gals cookout, an annual gathering that originated in Oxford in 1990. In the late 80s, he was invited by Jim Owens, a close friend of New Albany, to an event called The Grove of Trees, hosting law enforcement, state officials, and local government for a cookout, with Audie Randle as the host and MC. When Audie fell ill, Jim asked Johnny to take on the role of MC, leading to the shift of this political event to Oxford, where it flourished under Johnny’s guidance. His love for government extended to every facet of public service, making a lasting impact on the political landscape.

He leaves behind his brother Chip Morgan and a huge chosen family of friends like Jim Owens, with whom he shared his love of politics. Johnny keenly watched the local Oxford political scene, often staying informed through his cousin John Morgan. Johnny rarely missed joining the Tuesday coffee crew at the Beacon, where he soaked in local news and gossip. He relished catching up with his crew at the local airport and was passionate about trips to Destin, FL, especially with Ed Morgan or anyone willing to join him for a “guys’ trip.”

Johnny Morgan had his hands in everything. No rock went unturned. He was a man who cannot be replaced. His legacy of giving will continue through the Johnny Morgan Foundation, which supports endeavors near and dear to his heart: his community, church, and alma mater. He was loved by many and left a legacy that will live on forever.