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Emma Lee Morgan

The Emma Lee Morgan Scholarship has been established in honor of Emma Lee as she celebrated her 100th birthday.

Emma Lee Vance Morgan is a 1939 graduate of Northwest Missouri State University.

Emma Lee, a valedictorian at Smithville (Missouri) High School, enrolled in the fall of 1935 at what was then Northwest Missouri State Teachers College, majoring in commerce and math. She had been inspired to follow in the footsteps of her mother, who earned a college degree in 1904.

She put herself through Northwest by working as a secretary for Dean J.C. Miller. In 1938, when Miller left to accept the presidency at another college, future Northwest President J.W. Jones assumed the dean’s role and Morgan stayed as his secretary until 1941. She worked from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. each weekday, except when she left the office to attend classes.

Emma Lee fondly recalls attending dances, Homecoming events and other social activities on the Northwest campus. She claims she never missed a Bearcat football or basketball game as a student.

She also met June “J.P.” Morgan, her husband of 57 years, at Northwest. J.P. had taken a break from school to teach and earn enough money to finish his degree when he returned to Northwest around 1937.

Emma Lee and J.P. married in 1941 as the United States was close to entering World War II.

J.P. later earned a law degree at the University of Missouri-Columbia, and the Morgans eventually settled in Jefferson City, Missouri. The couple raised three children while J.P. went on to become an attorney and later a judge on the Missouri Supreme Court from 1969 until 1982, serving as chief justice from 1977 to 1979. He served on Northwest’s Board of Regents from 1961 to 1969, and he wrote and issued the Oath of Office to Dr. B.D. Owens during his 1977 presidential inauguration.

Tragically, J.P. died in Jefferson City in 1998 as the result of a car crash. Emma Lee moved to Houston to be closer to her son, Bill, and daughter-in-law, Sara.

Although Emma Lee is no longer living near Bearcat Country, she continues to follow the Bearcats online.  Once a Bearcat, Always a Bearcat.
Scholarships associated with Emma Lee Morgan
  • Emma Lee Morgan Scholarship