Bob Morgan, age 85, long time resident of Warren County, Ohio, died peacefully on Tuesday April 2, 2018 surrounded by his sons and other family members. Born in Cincinnati, OH, Bob was the oldest of Robert and Florence (Holzhaus) Morgan’s 6 children. Bob graduated from Western Hills High School in 1952. He married his high school sweetheart, June (Dugger) Morgan, on September 4, 1954 when they were both students at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio. Over the next 10 years, they became the proud parents of 5 sons. Bob taught at Sycamore High School and to supplement his income, he began "Canoe Trails" in the late 50's, a program which took 100's of boys from the Greater Cincinnati area on 2-3 week long camping and canoe trips in Canada, Kentucky, Ohio, West Virginia and Tennessee. Throughout Bob’s life, he was always involved with the great outdoors. Bob and June were pioneers in the development of paddle sports and outdoor recreation in the Midwest. In 1969, they established Morgan's Canoe Livery, on the Little Miami River in Ft. Ancient, which was the first commercial canoe, kayak and camping operation in the tri-state.
He and June were instrumental in having the Little Miami River designated as a National Scenic River, at a time when the river was considered the dumping ground for trash, old appliances and old cars. They sat on the founding board for Little Miami Inc. and by hosting cookouts with fellow board members at their beautiful farm situated along the Little Miami, they introduced many dignitaries, politicians and the then Governor of Ohio, Richard F. Celeste, to the beauty of the river and the need to conserve such a valuable natural asset. Thus the Little Miami was the first river to be given this distinction. The livery on the Little Miami River was to be the first of several Canoe Liveries they would open in the coming years. In 2013, Bob and June were honored with the Little Miami Conservancy Lifetime Legacy Award for their contributions and efforts in preserving the Little Miami River.
Always a natural athlete, Bob played football while attending Miami University and continued athletic pursuits after college. Bob won the first competitive canoe race held on the Whitewater River in Indiana in Indiana’s largest canoe race, now called Canoefest. He continued to place throughout the 50’s and 60’s in this tradition originally geared towards skilled competitors. In the late 1960's Bob and June’s love for wild rivers led them to explore the New, Gauley and Meadow rivers in West Virginia. Morgan was credited as the inspiration for the development of the Whitewater Rafting industry in West Virginia on the New and Gauly Rivers. He also conceived and developed the first self-bailing raft, which he prototyped and tested on the New River in 1969, and which is now an industry standard.
As the grandchildren started to arrive, he instilled in them this same love of nature and the great outdoors. His 15 grandchildren came to know and love him as ''Papa". By the late 80’s, their sons had taken the reins of the family canoe and outdoor businesses. This allowed June and Bob to travel extensively in the Florida Everglades and Louisiana where Bob, an avid angler, would fish, while June would paint scenes from nature. Bob and June's adventures together continued, as did their love of sharing nature with others, in 1999 when they opened Morgan's Jungle Lodge, an Eco-lodge on the remote Osa Peninsula in Costa Rica. National Geographic lists this area as one of the most 'biologically diverse places on the planet”. Many area families have traveled to the lodge and recognize this as a very special, unique place. Bob was preceded in death by his beloved wife June, his parents, Robert and Florence Morgan, his brothers James and Richard Morgan, and sister Sandra (Morgan) Sullivan. He is survived by his brother, William and his sister, Patty (Morgan) Dooley, his five children, Greg (Tracy) Morgan of Brookville, IN, Gary (Moira) Morgan of Hyde Park, Cincinnati, Dirk (Lori) Morgan of Morrow, Oh, Rob (Michelle) Morgan of Glendale, OH and Randy (Joni) Morgan of Morrow, OH. He is also survived by 15 grandchildren, Jon and Drew Morgan; Chas and Mary Cate Morgan; Hunter Morgan, Teisha (Morgan) Widmer, Jessica, Jordan, Joni and Jadie Riewoldt: Ashley, Anne and R. William Morgan; Amanda and Randall Morgan and 6 great grandchildren, Evan Bond, Rowan and Everlyn Widmer, and Carter and Gracie Morgan. A special thank you is extended to Mason Health Care for their gentle care of Bob the last 3 years. Friends may call on Saturday, April 7, 2018 from 11AM until the memorial service at 12:00PM, Arlington Memorial Gardens, 2145 Compton Road, Cincinnati, OH 45231 (513) 521-7003.
Those wishing to give memorials are asked to consider making a donation to the Little Miami Conservancy, 209 Railroad Avenue, Loveland, Ohio 45140 or online at www.littlemiami.org. in lieu of flowers. Online donors can click on the YELLOW 'DONATE' button on the LMC web site.