Excerpts by Henry Lane Hull

Several years ago, I wrote an item on Harvey Morgan, who had retired after 32 years of illustrious service to the Commonwealth, representing the Middle Peninsula in the General Assembly.

Harvey spent his professional career as a pharmacist, and he was the recognized expert on all things medical in the legislature. At one point during the course of his service, he engaged an intern to serve in his office in Richmond, Mary Helen Osborn, who later, fortuitously for them both, became his wife.

Mary Helen is one of the truly great Virginia ladies of our generation. She was Harvey’s constant companion and sounding board during his political tenure and remains a bedrock of knowledge on the political process, particularly as it affects the medical scene. She can speak authoritatively on the legislative comings and goings, always showing respect for each person’s positions, whether they be in agreement with hers or not.

Late one night following Harvey’s departure from the House of Delegates, after Mary Helen had retired for the evening and Harvey fortunately had stayed up working at his computer, he detected the smell of smoke, only to find that their home had caught fire. Happily, he and Mary Helen escaped without injury to themselves, but they had to start over to rebuild their entire home life, as the house proved to be a total loss.

In each of their cases, they accepted what had befallen them and set out to get started anew, all of which led to their acquiring and furnishing a new home, naturally in the Middle Peninsula, despite my persistent, albeit good-natured, efforts to talk them into moving to the Northern Neck. I even went to the extent of offering to buy them each a Northern Neck baseball cap as soon as they closed on a house on this side of the Rappahannock. To my genuine regret, despite the savings thereby entailed, that is one expenditure I have not had to make.

Now comfortably ensconced in their new home, Mary Helen and Harvey’s lives have attained the status of a new normal, allowing them to pursue one of their consuming interests, namely that of being on the water. Across the years, they have plied many of the local waterways, as well as those more distant up and down the East Coast. They are as proficient at the helm as they are politically, and they truly thrive on those days aboard their maritime home away from home.

Mary Helen and Harvey are among the most generous individuals I have known. Recently, they have found inspiration in a book of daily devotional readings by Gloucester native, Joel Emerson, a former constituent of Harvey’s who signs his pieces “Tertius,” after the scribe who wrote down what Saint Paul dictated in his epistles. In reading some of Tertius’ passages, one can see their reflection in Mary Helen and Harvey’s lives.

Today is Mary Helen’s birthday, and my wish for her is that she enjoys as much happiness and as many blessings as she brings to countless others. Ad multos annos!


This column marks the 39th anniversary of Excerpts. I am grateful to the publishers, editors, and readers for the many comments, suggestions, and pieces of advice I have received. Please keep them coming. On to the new year next Thursday!