Kenai resident Donald R. "Donnie" Morgan died unexpectedly at his home early Monday morning. He was 52.
Stunned family, colleagues and friends say his untimely death will leave a hole in the community.
"I don't think you could find a better people person," said Kenai Fire Chief Scott Walden, who worked with Morgan for 15 years.
"I thought an awful lot of him."
Morgan was born in Los Angeles on Nov. 15, 1948, and was a small child when his parents, Dick and Shirley, came to Kenai. The family was active in aspects of the community including the city of Kenai, the Kenai Chamber of Commerce and business.
For a time, his father was the publisher of the Peninsula Clarion. His brothers, Wade and Shane, run Morgan Steel Inc.
Morgan graduated from Kenai Central High School in 1967. He subsequently attended welding school, then joined his brothers in the family business. He remained a partner in Morgan Steel, although he later worked elsewhere.
He joined the Kenai Fire Department as a volunteer and stayed to make it a career. During his 20 years with the department, he was involved in the move to the new public safety building in 1971 and the modernization of the department. He worked his way up through the ranks, becoming Kenai's fire marshal and then assistant fire chief.
Walden said Morgan played a pivotal role in training programs, community fire prevention programs and in instilling pride in the department. In the process, he won many commendations for his work.
"He was always a very well-respected, level-headed guy," Walden said.
"He is one of those people who never had a bad thing to say about anyone."
After retiring from the city in 1996, Morgan joined his father in running the Kenai Golf Course and Cafe.
He was involved in a bowling league, the Moose Lodge, the firefighters' association and the Kenai Golf Association. He was one of the first participants in the stock car race track and enjoyed skeet shooting, his brother Wade said.
"He enjoyed his work, and he did a good job," his brother said.
"He was probably the most gracefully straightforward person I've ever met. ... He was just fair. I think that's why a lot of people were able to relate to him so well."
His death was unanticipated and the cause is unknown, but a heart attack is suspected, family friend Arlene Carver said Monday afternoon.
Morgan leaves behind his parents; his brothers; his wife of 32 years, Carol; two children, Julie and Steve; and one grandchild. The obituary and funeral arrangements are pending.
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