Monday, December 5, 2011

The Original Founder of Morgan Studio

My father, James O’Connell Morgan is a great man and always will be in my mind. Morgan Studio is the business he started and ran for the better part of four decades. A few highlights on him are presented here.

He Graduated from St. Ignatius High School in Cleveland. (He was an average student, but showed early talent as a promising artist and illustrator.)

He Graduated from John Carroll University where he was a Three-year letter winner and two-year starter as both offensive and defensive lineman on John Carroll's first and only Big Four championship team in 1939. Team's record was 13-3-1 (.794) in his two years as a starter.(He was 60-minute Morgan at John Carroll University in Cleveland). Years after he graduated, he was installed in JCU’s sports Hall of Fame.

He studied at Pratt Institute of Design in New York where he began to solidify his career path before the call of military duty caused him to take a detour. The year at Pratt and the time he spent in New York City influenced him greatly.

He was a soldier during World War II. First enlisting and later entering officer candidate school (OCS). He served as a leader of a camouflage unit and led Black troops (at a time when the army was still segregated). He went wherever they asked him to go and yet was able to stay out of harm’s way. He served his country with honor for over four years.

After his time in the U.S. Army, he began his career at Malmquist Studio as a commercial artist until he left to to start his own business in Cleveland, Ohio. He founded Morgan Studio in 1951 as “the architects of the printed page.” He was convinced that design was a noble and worthy profession. Along the way, Morgan Studio served a roster of blue chip clients including Ohio Bell Telephone, Youngstown Steel Door, Lake Erie Screw Corporation, Mooney Chemicals, Cleveland Federal Savings and Bonne Bell Cosmetics.

He was a devoted husband to Mary Francis Lawton Morgan (married in December of 1942 –Mary died May 2011). They were married for almost 70 years.

James O’C. Morgan and his wife had six children: Sundance (formerly James O’Connell Morgan Jr. – born 1944), Mary Lynn (born 1952), Wesley (born 1955), Gregory (born 1956), Daniel (Born 1958) and Robert Morgan (born 1959).

He has nine grandchildren:

Lynn’s children
James O’Connell Varney
Philip Varney

Wes’ children
Lindsey Lawton Morgan
John Benjamin Morgan

Greg’s children
Wesley Morgan
Matthew Morgan

Rob’s children
Megan Morgan
Tara Morgan
Kevin Morgan

Why Dad says he started Morgan Studio
Dad: Did I ever tell you why I started Morgan Studio?
Wes: Yes you have. (I do not think he heard me. Or maybe he decided to repeat the story for Greg) I was working for Malmquist Studio in Cleveland. I was routinely putting together this magazine for GE. I had been there about four years. On payday, I got the wrong check by mistake. It was the paycheck of a new hire. I realized very quickly that this new guy, who was doing pretty much the same thing as me, was getting a bigger paycheck. I decided then and there to learn as much as I could about running this kind of shop and open my own.
(I love that story. As I understand it, it took a little while longer before he worked up the nerve to leave and open Morgan Studio in 1951. Apparently the office manager made the mistake with the paychecks. He got her to agree to help him understand the systems for keeping and collecting time sheets and how to handle billing, making it clear that he was not happy with the inequity of the situation.)

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