Today I sadly drove crying to Graced Baptist Church for a memorial service, for a dear friend, but tonight I have a since of peace and a happy heart.
Last night a hundred or so Sheriff Deputies, Golden Knights, Alumni, coworkers, friends and family crowded the halls of Adcock Funeral Home to pay their respects to the wife and family of one amazing man. As you entered the chapel a video played portraying a miniscule portion of an abounding full spirited man who lived life to its fullest. This man Leroy “Lem” Morgan was definitely one of a kind.
As you entered the parlor where he lies resting, you could hear the slight murmur of people reminiscing about experiences with Lem at some time or another. There were beautiful flowers and several large photographs of him being knighted at the “Knighting” ceremony which took place this past December at the United States Army Parachute Team, Golden Knights 50th Anniversary celebration. His Brother and son Marshall said, that becoming a Honorary Golden Knight was a great highlite of his life. He was unanimously selected to become an Honorary Golden Knight by members of the team and Alumni Association for his exceptional service and devotion in support of the team for over twenty years. Lem kept all of the telephones running in the old building and never failed to stand guard and get knights safely to their room’s reunion after reunion. He was always our champion and faithful friend, who was always there to lend a helping hand.
I will never forget as long as I live the first time I ever met him. He walked into our office like he owned the place, gave me a big hug and began to tell jokes. I was kind of in shock and couldn’t believe the way he carried on. I told him I thought he was crazy and he laughed and said, “Who me? Crazy? No I’m not crazy just nuts, Ya wanna See? He shook his head back and forth, rolled his eyes and wagged his tongue out of his mouth with LALALA!!!” From that day forward I knew that whenever he showed up there would never be a dull moment, be lots of jokes and laughter to brighten the day.
Today the church was packed with people to celebrate his life. His Pastor’s, Nick Rich and David Holloway and brother Kevin wanted everyone to remember that he would want everyone to celebrate and not be sad.
The pastor said” Lem loved his beautiful wife, Sue, their two boys, grandkids, mother, brother and sister with all of his heart. Sue and Lem were high school sweet hearts and were married for 44 years. He loved the mountains of Virginia, loved to hunt and lived every day of his life to the end. Lem talked to everyone. He never met a stranger and if he didn’t know them, he knew them before they parted ways.”
His brother came up and gave a heartfelt eulogy, which brought both laughter and tears. He said, “Lem liked to talk a lot and that he inherited it from his mom and dad and that he didn’t talk until he was about three. He said, “It wasn’t that he couldn’t talk, he just couldn’t get a word in edge wise.” ” My big brother wasn’t just my big brother; Lem had many, many brothers. He shared his life with his hunting brothers in Virginia, his Mason brothers, His law enforcement brothers and his Golden Knights brothers. Lem had worked with the Sprint Telephone company for over 40 years and in law enforcement with the Sheriff’s Department for over 20 years.
Lem and many of his brothers would annually meet Thanksgiving week to hunt and spend time in fellowship. He wouldn’t allow a telephone or television to be brought to the cabin. It was a time for him to get back to nature, renew himself and forge those life long bonds. He told his wife Sue, that this past Thanksgiving week had been the best he had ever had and he was so thankful that so many of his brothers, who he had not seen in years, had come to share it”. He got a 9 point deer, which was the biggest that had ever come off that mountain. He and his brother struggled to get the enormous buck in the jeep. He said they dropped it, fell down, laughed a lot, pushed and shoved it till they finally got him in there to go home. Lem’s brother tearfully held up an antler from a deer and said that Lem had shed his antler but another would grow in his wonderful new life with God.
David Wall sang “How Great Thou Art,” Paddy Gibney sang Sue and Lem’s favorite song “Unchained Melody,” and closed with “American Pie.”
Following the church service a mile log procession followed the family to Lafayette Memorial Park for internment. Sheriff Moose Butler and members of the Cumberland County Sheriff Department attended and then escorted their fellow officer to his final resting place. The Officers reverently folded the American Flag, which lay upon his coffin and presented it to his wife Sue. Long time friend, Bruce McMurray, Spider Wrenn and brother Masons were pall bearers and the traditional Masonic ceremony was given to honor their fellow brother. There was a traditional white apron placed upon the casket, a sprig of evergreen placed at his feet to represent everlasting life, rose petals were placed at his head and a beautiful poem about tomorrow recited. Following the ceremony a bagpiper played an Amazing Grace the farewell tune and faded away into the sunset.
As I began to drive away I looked up and saw the most beautiful sunset falling into the trees over Lem’s grave on this last day. I know he has been raised up by that magnificent view he sent to us ending the day. For a brief moment, I thought I saw that warm magnificent smile, and felt the happiness and peace he gave to us all.
Lem, You’ve always been a “Knight” in shinning armor to help us all. Now you have wings to always stay close by. Blue Skies until we all meet again.