Longtime Newnan jeweler remembered

by W. Winston Skinner


Fred Morgan

The funeral for Fred Morgan was held Tuesday, and he leaves behind a half century of memories from his downtown jewelry store.

Amanda Irvin said she and her sister – when they were infants – were given silver cups purchased at Morgan’s Jewelers. Debbie Flournoy described Morgan as “such an honest, friendly, down-to-earth – smart businessman.”

Flournoy said her parents would only buy jewelry at Morgan’s and Morgan and his wife, Josephine, were “the main reason.”

Morgan ran a store where customers and employees felt comfortable. “For Christmas every year I would go by Morgan’s and show Fred what I wanted. My hubby would go in there, and Fred would show him what I had chosen, and they would gift wrap it for me,” Brenda Brown said.

Morgan also taught younger folks in Newnan some lessons about money. “When I was a kid, I wore rings on all of my fingers except my thumbs. Mr. Fred would let me buy rings on credit. It taught me so much about being responsible and spending my money wisely,” Anne Marie Rowe recalled.

“He would only allow me to spend so much at a time – and would remind me of that when I was buying. Then I couldn't buy anything else until I paid that off,” Rowe added. She said her shopping with Fred Morgan was among the “great life lessons that I learned in our little town.”

Donna Stuart’s mother, Joan Addison, worked with the Morgan’s for years. “I loved being the errand girl growing up,” Stuart said.

“I would go to buy popcorn at Kessler's or a hot fudge sundae from Lee-King's for everyone at the store. Fred would sit at the watch table, back then, with his ‘eye’ on and await the goods,” Stuart said.

Ame Whitlock also worked at the jewelry store. She remembered the female employees received corsages for Christmas Eve when the shop was “crowded beyond belief – happy… busy… joyful.”

Fred Homer Morgan, 87, died Saturday at his home after a lingering illness. The Haralson County native served in the U.S. Navy. “He never talked about it,” son Jeff Morgan stated.

Josephine Morgan said he only mentioned his World War II service two or three times during their marriage. “Fred was a storekeeper. He was on a ship that delivered food and supplies to all the bases” in an area of the Pacific Ocean, she said.

After his military service, Morgan used the GI Bill to study watchmaking and become a certified horologist. The Morgans married while he completing his studies in Atlanta.

In 2006, Morgan recalled he went to school after his boss pointed out how agile his hands were. "I was working at the telephone company, and my boss said I had the best hands he had ever seen," he said.

Morgan worked for Bo Lazenby at his downtown jewelry store for about 10 years before opening Morgan Jewelers on Feb. 2, 1962.

At first the store was in the building that is now Let Them Eat Toffee. The tiny space meant Fred Morgan did his watch repairs by climbing into the upper level for a time.

Josephine Morgan also recalled they gave every high school senior a free charm at graduation. “We had them lined up all the way up the street,” she said.

About 35 years ago, Bobby and Ruby Bridges were vacating the store where Morgan’s is today. Jeff Morgan said the trick was to convince his father that the move was his idea. The larger store’s back entrance – which would enable Fred Morgan to more easily make his daily visit to Neal Jackson’s feed-and-seed store for coffee and conversation – helped smooth the decision.

Fred Morgan had learned to make watches from components. “Mr. Fred could repair anything and did so often for me,” said Grantville resident Deborah Smith.

In recent years, he continued to come to the store regularly. "It's been a good life,” he said in 2006. “We've enjoyed downtown and the people of Newnan and appreciate our customers very much.”

Morgan loved the outdoors and often went fishing at Lake West Point with longtime friend William Jackson. “He and I ran around together everywhere,” Jackson said. “We used to have some good times.”

Jeff Morgan said his father was good at dividing up tasks and finding something for him and each of his siblings – Jim, Greg and Debra – to do. He would hold up his index finger, point at each child and say, “We’ll get it done,” so often his children nicknamed the finger “Will.”

Fred Morgan also liked to watch his children’s sports competitions – and he expected them to win. Jeff Morgan said he was more “afraid of what he was going to say to me when I got home” than of any punishment the wrestling coach might use.

Morgan and Donald Spradlin restored old Jeeps. The Morgan children learned to drive – starting about age 11 – in old Jeeps that sometimes did not have working brakes.

Morgan was a member of the Veterans of Foreign Wars and the American Legion. He was an Elk and a Mason.

He was a member of Unity Baptist Church and attended the Senior Men's Sunday School Class. His funeral was held at Unity on Tuesday with interment at Forest Lawn Memorial Park.

Morgan’s family asked that memorial contributions go to Unity Baptist Church, 311 Smokey Road, Newnan, GA 30263.

Willene Overstreet attends Unity. Coping with her own physical challenges, she was inspired by Morgan’s making it to church – first with a walker, then a wheelchair.

“She told me that if Mr. Fred could make it to church, then she could as well,” her daughter, Dianne Webb, said. “He encouraged her without ever knowing.”

Newnan attorney Jonathan Hickman described Morgan as “a Newnan icon (who)… will be fondly remembered.”

“Mr. Fred believed that every day was good or better. No need for bad days. They did not exist in his life,” Stuart said. “He was a true problem solver and an innovative soul, with a unique spirit that is an inspiration.”

Reflecting on Morgan’s passing, Jackson said, “I’ve lost a good friend.”

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