|Flourish Online Magazine||Fall 2012|
An ode to love and family: The naming of Morgan Hall
By Cheryl D. Anderson
Audrey Morgan (right) with her sister, Bobbie Bailey, and Joseph Meeks at the celebrating of the naming of Morgan Hall
Dean Joseph Meeks speaks with Audrey Morgan
Photos by Tracie L. Hinnant
As the exclamations of the cheering audience drowned out the final strains of Beethoven’s “Ode to Joy” last April, no one in Kennesaw State’s concert hall knew the same profound joy as Audrey Morgan. Although she was sitting there for the first time without her late husband, Jack, she could feel his spirit and his ever-present love of music reverberating through the hall that had just been named the Audrey B. and Jack E. Morgan, Sr. Concert Hall.
By her side instead was her beloved sister, Dr. Bobbie Bailey. In the five years since Bailey sponsored the naming of the Dr. Bobbie Bailey & Family Performance Center at KSU, she has sought even more ways to honor members of her family. When she purchased 27 Steinway & Son pianos to make KSU an All-Steinway School, she named each of the concert grand pianos for a loved one.
But, she wanted to do more for Audrey and Jack, who were not only family but also longtime business partners with her at Our-Way Inc., an air conditioning and refrigeration re-manufacturing company. So, she decided to make another significant contribution to the KSU School of Music in order to name the concert hall.
“Audrey and Jack are such special people to me,” Bailey said, “and Jack especially loved music so much. Naming this beautiful concert hall for them seemed like an ideal way to celebrate them.”
Like Bailey, the Morgans have been among the top financial supporters of Kennesaw State University for many years, sponsoring a large scholarship endowment in the School of Music and another in the WellStar School of Nursing. They also helped fund the Bobbie Bailey Athletic Complex at the university.
“Dr. Bailey and the Morgans are among the most generous people I know,” said Joseph Meeks, dean of the College of the Arts. “Not only have they been angels to the School of Music, but their philanthropy extends into so many areas of the community, including health care, education and sports. We are deeply honored by their ongoing friendship.”
Audrey Morgan with her late husband, Jack, at her birthday celebration
Photo by Melissa Withers
Jack and Audrey Morgan were college sweethearts. They first met at Asbury College in Kentucky, where Mr. Morgan enrolled after serving in the U.S. Army Air Corps as a B-29 navigator, bombardier and gunner. For the entire 61 years of their marriage, he would refer to her as the “love of my life.” Together, they had two sons, Jack Jr. and Robert, and three grandchildren. Shortly before Mr. Morgan’s passing in November 2011, they learned that their granddaughter, Kimberly, was expecting their first great-grandchild. In fact, the imminent arrival of the baby prevented Kimberly from joining the family at the April celebration of Morgan Hall.
Both of the Morgans pursued additional educational opportunities; she studied business management at Georgia State University and he earned a degree in mechanical engineering at Georgia Tech. These were the skills that inspired Bailey to make what she and Mr. Morgan always referred to as “the call of a lifetime,” inviting her sister and brother-in-law to become her business partners. Bailey had finished her own education in night school while working for the company she would later buy. As a teenager during World War II she wanted “to do something useful” for the war effort and found one of her life’s callings in refrigeration design and manufacturing. She later ventured into other businesses as well, including two music labels, RX-Melody and Southernaire. She has been a member of the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences since 1972. She was also one of the 12 founding members of the DeKalb First Bank.
“I am in awe of Bobbie’s gift,” Mrs. Morgan said, “and I am in awe of seeing our name on the hall.”
But, Mrs. Morgan is no less “awesome” than her sister. Although officially retired, she continues to serve as chairman of the Audrey and Jack Morgan Foundation, and she is on the Board of Visitors at Berry College and is a Trustee of the DeKalb Medical Foundation.
Mrs. Morgan was deeply moved by the April 21 concert celebrating the naming of Morgan Hall. The evening featured the KSU Orchestra and the KSU Chorale performing Mozart’s “Vespers” as well as Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9, which is popularly known for its concluding “Ode to Joy.”
“Our guests were just blown away by the quality of the performance. The orchestra and choruses really did KSU proud,” she enthused. “The evening was perfect!”