James Carl Morgan, 98, of Rossville passed away peacefully at home Saturday, October 30, 2021. Born in McMinn County, his uncle, Willard Morgan, a 1920’s pioneer businessman of East Ridge, brought him to Chattanooga where he graduated from Central High School in 1943. Carl immediately enlisted in the Navy serving as a pharmacist’s mate on the USS Hutchins (DD-476). He diligently attended the men under numerous attacks including their participating in the invasion fleet at Leyte Gulf to take back the Philippines, eventually fighting in the Battle of Surigao Strait. After the Iwo Jima operation, on to Okinawa where Hutchins was attacked by a Maru-ni suicide boat which severely damaged the destroyer taking it out of action. Carl helped to break it down in dry-dock. He was a sensitive and astute observer of the various trials of the men with whom he served. On several occasions his life was actually saved due to his assignments in navy bands and other musical ensembles for officers. Frequent battleship reunions were a sense of comfort in his later years.
Music also afforded him his thirty-two-year career at Tennessee Valley Authority. TVA had decided to hire artists and musicians as cartographers due to their attention to detail. His having graduated with a degree in music theory and history from The University of Chattanooga led to both an exemplary career and an avocation that blessed his community.
Carl’s musical gifts contributed to the community for almost a century as performer, composer, and choir director. His tenor voice, guitar, and bass enhanced Sweet Georgia Sound as well as numerous other venues where he performed with his wife, Evelyn, an accomplished pianist. He was the director of the Shop Rite singers created to develop the talents of community youth. He was a published songwriter with compositions recorded by major artists. As a charter member, his renowned church choirs during the 1960’s won competitions from New Orleans to Ridgecrest, helping to grow his young church. Having witnessed powerful performances of commitment presented by the adult choir and they themselves having been required to pursue excellence in the children’s and youth choirs, the faith of an entire generation of baby boomers was strengthened by this inspiring choir director. Many have carried out his legacy in churches throughout the Chattanooga area, and beyond.
His cherished daughter, Kay, has served on worship teams for decades and as worship leader for the past decade. Granddaughter Kelly and husband Kris also lead worship. His grandson, Morgan, earned first a B.A. in Religious Studies and then a Masters of Divinity from Princeton Seminary, and is now serving churches in the New York area.
He was preceded in death by his parents, Jim and Lena Morgan; brother, Dean Morgan; sister, Bobbie Ballinger; nephew Jim Roderick; and his wife, Evelyn Brown Morgan, pianist and organist, with whom he literally made beautiful music for sixty-nine years.
Survivors include his daughter Kay (Tim) King; grandson Morgan King; granddaughter, Kelly (Kris) Nott; great-granddaughter Olivia Nott; sister, Joetta Roderick; and nieces Carla Stevens and Babs (Barry) Richards.
A private family graveside service will be 10:30 AM, Wednesday at the Chattanooga National Cemetery with Rev. Jason Thomas officiating. Many people were a blessing to Carl in his later years including his pallbearers Ronnie Born, Tim Bannister, Ben Friberg, Bryan Griffin, Ed Hartline, and David Kammerdiener. Honorary pallbearer will be Stuart Mosman.Thanks to Brad Lewis for music, and Andy Addison for providing taps.
In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to The National WWII Museum, New Orleans, or the Free to Be campaign at the First Baptist Church of Fort Oglethorpe.
Arrangements by Heritage Funeral Home & Crematory, Battlefield Parkway.
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