Obituary for Donald Morgenson
Donald F. Morgenson, Professor Emeritus, passed away at home on Tuesday April 4, 2017, surrounded by family. A most loved husband, father, uncle, friend, teacher, and mentor who will be remembered for his gentle spirit, his enchantment, his strong unwavering moral compass and his love of teaching. Both a public and private man, Don was equally at home in a classroom of hundreds of students as he was spending many solitary hours in the library and in the quiet of his home with family.
Don will be deeply missed by his wife Leslie, his children Melissa of Louisville Kentucky, Gretchen (and Paul) of New York City, Matthew (and Kayla) of Waterloo. He is mourned by grandchildren Cara, Gina and Conor, great grandchildren Kathleen and Helen, brother in law Michael Wiegand and his wife Brenda and many nieces, nephews and special friends. Predeceased by his mother, Marjorie, his father Einer, sister Marilyn and her husband Burt, brother Jack and his wife Gretta, step-father Gerald Paul, mother in law, Dawn Wiegand and father in law John Wiegand.
Born in 1928 in the city of Rochester in his beloved Minnesota, Don came to Canada in 1960 for a “brief stint” at Wilfrid Laurier University then called Waterloo University College, an affiliate of University of Western Ontario. Don felt his call at WLU teaching in the Department of Psychology for 56 years, well beyond retirement until the age of 87 years. He was an uncommon educator, with a narrative style of teaching threaded with wit and humour and a deep abiding affection for his students.
Don graduated from St. Olaf College in Minnesota (BA), from Pennsylvania State University (MS), and from University of London, England, with a PhD. In 2006 Don was awarded an Honorary Doctorate from WLU.
Over the years as well as teaching Don served as Acting Athletic Director, Dean of Students, Director of Counselling Services, Chief Psychologist (Educational Services) and Chairperson of the Department of Psychology. Don’s profound love of teaching led to many teaching awards from within WLU including Outstanding Teacher Award, Excellence in Teaching Award and Professor of the Year Award. In 1986 he became the first Canadian Professor of the Year recognized by the Carnegie Foundation’s Council for the Advancement and Support of Education. He was selected Master Teacher by the Canadian Psychological Association in 1986. In 1993, Don was honoured with a Rotary International Paul Harris Fellowship.
Don was an eclectic learner and teacher, a true Renaissance man who loved interdisciplinary studies. Through the decades Don taught and team-taught courses in Waterloo Lutheran Seminary, the Faculty of Social Work, the Department of Philosophy, the Department of Fine Arts and the Faculty of Music, where along with Music Professor Rosemarie Fisher, he developed the Music Therapy Program.
Don’s role as educator reached beyond the traditional classroom. In the 1970’s he developed lectures for the CTV University of the Air Lecture Series. Don was instrumental, with staff from the Distance Education Department, in the development of the Laurier Association for Life Long Learning. He was a visiting scholar at both Horsens/Herstedvester (1970) studying the Danish Prison System and at Charles University, Prague, Czech Republic in the Pedagogical Fakulty (1992). Don will be remembered for the many articles he wrote for newspapers and as a gifted public speaker.
As an American citizen Don was drafted during the Korean War where he made Sergeant. He was not sent to Korea however but to a peace-keeping mission in Trieste for two years. This was a pivotal time in his life and he would later describe himself as a trained killer who hated guns. He would spend the rest of his life denouncing gun use and with his friend and colleague Dr. Leon Thiery would develop and team teach a course, Quest for World Peace.
Through the years Don was involved in many community organizations that reflected his personal values and philosophy including World Federalists of Canada, Oxfam, past Executive Director of Amnesty International Grp 9, past President of Waterloo County John Howard Society, and past President of KW Big Brothers Association and member of the National Board of Big Brothers.
Cremation has taken place. A private service will be held. A public memorial will take place at WLU, date still to be announced.
In lieu of flowers donations to Wilfrid Laurier University-Donald Morgenson Award, Bloomingdale United Church or the John Howard Society of Waterloo-Wellington would be appreciated by the family (cards available at the funeral home). Visit www.henrywalser.com to view Don's memorial.