by Henry Lane Hull
When one crosses the Robert O. Norris Jr. Memorial Bridge from the Northern Neck, one enters the Middle Peninsula. That beautiful land has brought forth and continues to produce its own great figures in our history.
In our time the greatest flowering to come from the Middle Peninsula, I modestly assert, is former Del. Harvey Morgan, who served 16 terms in the House of Delegates of the Virginia General Assembly, where he succeeded John Warren Cooke, who closed his own political career as speaker.
Harvey is a pharmacist by profession, a family legacy enshrined in Morgan’s Drug Store, where he followed his father in caring for the medicinal needs of their patients. Although he does not practice pharmacy any more, Harvey remains the go-to person for any questions on that subject. During his long service in the House he was recognized as the health care maven, who was respected by members of both parties for his knowledge, wisdom and understanding of the complex issues involved.
When the two-lane Coleman Bridge over the York River from Gloucester Point to Yorktown opened in 1952, traffic was slight and many people nostalgically missed the old ferry ride, which broke the tedium of driving. On July 4, 1976, during the second administration of Gov. Mills Godwin, the tolls on the Coleman and the Norris Bridges were lifted, with the resultant explosion of population in Gloucester County, as people from Hampton Roads came to view Gloucester as a new “bedroom community.”
Harvey met the ensuing challenge by leading the discussion as to how to expand the bridge to four lanes, and ameliorate the difficult congestion problems that existed during every morning and afternoon rush hour. In that effort Harvey was indefatigable and today’s bridge is a tribute to his ability to work compromises to achieve solutions beneficial to the public good.
Harvey is a graduate of Hampden-Sydney College, where his grandson presently is a student. He is a loyal alumnus and consistently reflects the gentlemanly demeanor of the school’s products. He is intellectually curious about all forms of knowledge and truly lives to learn. Last fall he was staying up one evening reading on his computer until long after midnight. When he went upstairs to retire, he mentioned to his wife, Mary Helen, that he thought he smelled something.
Sadly their home had caught fire, but fortunately they both were able to escape unharmed from the building before it became a total loss. Both Harvey and Mary Helen are not ones to be overcome by challenges and they set out to find a new home and reassemble their household. I told Harvey that if he and Mary Helen decided to move to the Northern Neck, I should buy him a present in the form of a Northern Neck hat. True to his roots, he relocated in the Middle Peninsula, thereby saving me the expense of the hat.
Today most Americans are dismayed, if not disgusted, by the harshness of political dialog. Harvey is the champion of those individuals, always being a stellar advocate of courtesy and politeness in discussing issues involving the body politic. His views are strongly held, but he always has been able to debate with clarity and respect for his opponents’ positions. In that arena he achieved well-merited universal respect from his colleagues and from his constituents.
Those entrusted with the public good, be they in Richmond or Washington, could do no better that to emulate the qualities that Harvey has manifested across the long span of his career. I write these lines out of respect and as a tribute for his 87th birthday tomorrow. He truly is a model not only for those in politics, but for everyone else as well.
Happy Birthday, Harvey! “Ad multos annos!” You are at the Peak of Youth.