SPRINGFIELD — The love that Clarence Edward Morgan always showed to Effingham County was returned many times over Saturday.
Hundreds gathered at the gymnasium at Clarence E. Morgan Recreation Complex Gym to say goodbye to its namesake, a driving force in the sports and recreation community. Morgan died at his residence Jan. 5 at the age of 75.
Morgan worked with the Effingham County Recreation since 1980. It had a small budget when he started but he still managed to build a prominent program after becoming its director in 2001. The culmination is the Clarence E. Morgan Complex that features a state-of-the-art gym, several athletic fields and handicapped accessible playgrounds. Other amenities are currently in the works.
Sen. Billy Hickman, Rep. Jon Burns and State Representative Bill Hitchens were among those in attendance. Speakers included Effingham County Board of Education Chairman Lamar Allen, Pauline Shaw of the Effingham Navigator Team, Morgan's son in law, Walt Lawson, and the Rev. Chris Roberson, who gave the message.
Emotion overtook Allen as he talked about his longtime friend. He reminded everyone that virtually everything Morgan did was always for the children of Effingham County.
Morgan spent 30 years as a teacher and coach in Effingham County schools before moving to the recreation department.
Shaw fought tears as she recalled the many ways that Morgan and the Effingham County Board of Commissioners helped the Navigator Team, which supports people with disabilities and their families. Children with various handicaps benefitted greatly from Josh Reddick Stadium, which was built with children with disabilities in mind.
Mourners were handed a brochure that spotlighted some of Morgan’s achievements as director of the Effingham County Recreation and Parks Department. These included establishing the first fast-pitch softball league, the opening of Baker Pond to the public, five Georgia Recreation and Parks State championships, and many others.
Pallbeaers included Craig Johnson, Ryan Sanders, Mike Cohen, Mike Wilson, Jeff Lonon, Raymond Hines, Ricky Bohannon and Bobby Mattox. Honorary pallbearers were Allen, Larry Thompson, Buddy Sorrow, Bobby Brazell and Dr. Franklin Goldwire.
An Effingham County Fire & Rescue ladder truck hoisted a large American flag at the entrance to the complex.