Emmett James Morgan, Jr., was born in Cottonplant, Arkansas, on Easter Sunday, April 9, 1950, to the late Emmett James Morgan, Sr., and Priscilla Washington Morgan – both recent college graduates and new grade school teachers. A year later his brother Dennis was born.
One fateful day, 3-year-old Emmett walked up to a “Whites Only” drinking fountain and began to drink from it. Emmett Senior and Priscilla did not stop him. In that moment they decided they would not raise their children under Jim Crow. So they packed up their small family and moved to Los Angeles, California. There the family expanded with the arrival of brothers Gary and Zach and sister Pamela.
At age 10, Emmett joined Bethlehem Baptist church at 44th and Compton Blvd. He played Little League baseball and went to Foshay Junior High, where his father was the Dean. He attended Dorsey High School and, upon graduation, returned to his home state to study at the University of Arkansas, Pine Bluff, but he soon returned to Los Angeles to attend Pepperdine University.
At age 19, he married Juanita Turnbull, and from their union were born his beloved daughter Terrianne Maria and son Erin James. Emmett had a colorful and varied career. He cared neither about wealth nor advancement but rather went where his heart led him, which was always toward great people and interesting projects. His employers included Capitol Records, Abbott Medical Supplies, the Hyperion Plant, the Montgomery Engineering firm, and the Manual Arts High School Career and Guidance Department.
In the late ʻ70s, he and best friend Tolly Harris opened Munchies Pizza, a favorite local spot on Crenshaw Boulevard. In 1998, with best friend Jerroll Dolphin, Emmett founded the St. Luke School of Medicine, which later awarded him an Honorary Doctorate. From then on, we called him “Doctor Morgan.”
Emmett loved to travel and explore the world and counted Amsterdam, Berlin, San Antonio, and New York among his favorite places. However, anywhere with Emmett Morgan was an adventure, and we all just wanted to tag along.
Emmett participated in the programs of Landmark Education, which he credited with causing a positive, permanent shift in the quality of his daily life and relationships. It was there that he met his wife, Candace Shivers, a Landmark program leader. Emmett was a student in her class when he caught her eye and she his. Thus began an extraordinary love affair and partnership. For twenty years, Emmett devoted his life to this beautiful, charismatic, and intelligent woman from Hope, Arkansas. And Emmett meant the world to Candace.
Emmett visited his mother daily, helped to plant and tend her garden, observed the universe, studied the I Ching, and handicapped horse races with his best friend Rueven Harris. But most of all, he blessed us with his presence.
Upon Emmettʼs passing, his 8-year-old grandson Jonahh said simply, “Iʼm going to miss him.” Jonahh speaks for us all including Emmettʼs other four grandchildren: Ryder, Naomi Bella, Nikkia and Tiana; son-in-law Jamal Weathers; brother-in-law Bobby Shivers, Jr., sister-in-law Judy, nephew Nathan, niece-in-law Jennifer, and grandnieces Juliette and Anna Shivers; nieces Ramona, Deanna, and Eboni; nephews Dennis, Jr., Gary, Jr., Jared, Jiovanni, and Di Angelo; great nephews Marlon, Treavon and Israel; sisters-in-law Jena, Charlotte, and Pamela; nephew-in-law Damian; niece-in-law Katy; uncles and aunts; over 200 first cousins; hundreds more extended family members and close friends; and the thousands of waiters, waitresses, bartenders, sales clerks, neighbors, colleagues, and “strangers” who crossed his path.
With his humor, candor, wisdom, intelligence, beauty, coolness, and full-on love, Emmett was second to none. We will carry him in our hearts always and forever.
- Pamela Morgan