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Morgan 'shocked' to receive district honor
A lifetime of helping
10.28 Clarence Morgan
Flanked by his staff at the Effingham County Recreation and Parks, Clarence Morgan, center, receives the Distinguished Professional Award for the 1st District of the Georgia Parks and Recreation Association. Morgan has been involved in recreation in Effingham for more than 40 years. - photo by Photo submitted

To Jacan Brown, maybe Clarence Morgan missed his calling.

“He should be a professional helper,” she said of her boss, the director of Effingham County Recreation and Parks.

“No matter where you’re at, he’s always asking what you need and ‘what can I get you?’ He’s always wanting to help. He’s just that type of person.”

Morgan, the longtime ECRP director, was honored with Georgia Recreation and Parks Association’s 1st District Distinguished Professional Award, in recognition for his 40 years of service to recreation.

“Someone said to him, ‘You should have had that a long time ago,’” Brown noted.  

Morgan was shocked to receive the award from the district, which comprises 29 agencies. The award is voted on by district and state recreation officials.

“I thought nobody in our county would ever receive something like that,” he said. “I’m not an emotional person, but it was a very high honor I thought I would never get. It shows we are committed to doing the best job possible.

“This award reflects that I didn’t do it by myself. It’s the people working with me on a daily basis and the day-to-day activities carried out by my staff.”

Brown, the ECRP administrative assistant, has worked with Morgan for most of the last 22 years.

“The most valuable thing is he is a family-oriented person,” Brown said. “He likes things done in a professional way. He doesn’t tell anyone no.”

Brown remembered Morgan telling her to take the time she needed to go to a party for a little boy she was raising after she missed one.

“He said, ‘You need to make sure you go to the next party,’” she said.

Morgan also is willing to pitch in wherever and whenever he’s needed from the fields to the concession stands to helping with cheerleading.

“He’s done it all,” Brown said. “It’s just been wonderful. It’s been fun. I have truly enjoyed working with him.”

An Effingham County native, Morgan helped Vamie Wilson start the North Effingham Church Basketball League in 1965. From 1967-75, he helped Noel C. Conaway and Pork Worrell run the Effingham County Youth Athletic Association.

When the Effingham County Recreation Department was formed in 1975, he volunteered with it until 1980. In April of that year, he started part-time as ECRD director and has served as director six times, ranging from six months to two years. He stayed in that position for two years and continued to work part-time as athletic coordinator, handling that job on a full-time basis once he retired from teaching in 1999.

Morgan became the director of the Rincon Recreation Department in October 2000 and in July 2001, he returned to the ECRD. The name was changed to Effingham County Recreation and Parks in 2003.

“Even when he worked with Rincon, we communicated back and forth,” Brown said.

So far this year, the department has opened six new tennis courts and is building a pro shop. Also in the works are a dog park and a skate park, plus a new gym for the southern end of the county.

As the county has grown, so has the number of people taking part in ECRP programs. Participation has tripled since 2001.

The ECRP hosted its first fishing rodeo and Easter egg hunt this year and will hold its second children and pets costume contest Monday.

“We used to be all athletics,” Morgan said. “We’re trying to provide more. We’ve still got a ways to go to get where I want to see us.”

He’s also liable to show up at a game for an Effingham rec team out of town, she said. Morgan’s philosophy is that if an Effingham all-star team is put together, it will go to district-level play.

“In many places, if it was too far or if they think their team is not good enough, they wouldn’t go,” he said. “It’s very important that they are given a chance to excel or to have that honor of being an all-star.”

He also taught her a lot about how to get things done when the department’s budget was far less than it is now.

“He taught me how to get sponsors,” Brown said.

And when she was able to line up sponsors for ECRP events and programs, she said Morgan asked her how she did it.

“I said, ‘You’re the one who taught me how to get a sponsor,’” she said.

In their old offices, there was a group of ladies across the hall who would aggravate the rec department workers, according to Brown. Morgan made Halloween goodie bags for his staff and then made some for the ladies across the hall.

“He loves helping people,” she said. “He’s a gentleman indeed. I promise you his mother raised him right.

“He loves to do for others,” Brown said. “That’s just him. I think that’s his biggest pride.”

He thanked the county commissioners and administrators for seeing the benefits of recreation.

“I thank the people of Effingham County for giving me the opportunity to be involved in recreation all these years,” Morgan said. “Effingham County is very important to me.”