Johnny Morgan left a lasting legacy

Published 6:12 am Saturday, May 20, 2023

Businessman, philanthropist, and ambassador for all things Oxford and Lafayette County Johnny Morgan, 76, died Wednesday in his airplane in rural Arkansas. Family and friends, shocked by the fatal accident, posted tributes and shared memories while awaiting details of the tragedy.

Funeral arrangements had not been posted at press time. The National Transportation Safety Board and FAA began investigating the crash Thursday.

He was remembered across the county, state and region for his love of Oxford and its thriving business community, as well as his involvement in local and state politics. Many recalled the joyous occasions of
political forums and gatherings at his shop building.

Email newsletter signup

Oxford Mayor Robyn Tannehill was one of the first to post a social media message in the stunning hours after the accident, and as word began to spread through the city. “I’m so saddened to hear about the passing of my friend Johnny Morgan. He loved Oxford and was incredibly generous. He never wanted credit-only to leave it better. You can thank him every time you drive by the pocket park on North Lamar and see @OxfordPolice dog, Jocko, at work,” she said.

Morgan was an Ole Miss alum and remained a supporter of the school. Nic Lott, the first black student
body president at the school, tweeted that he “first met Johnny when I was a student at Ole Miss. We
quickly bonded over our shared love of the university and politics. He was also a dedicated public servant. He served as a supervisor, state senator, and host of the Good Ole Boys & Gals, a bipartisan political gathering of friends, candidates, and political enthusiasts from across Mississippi. I’ll miss ole Johnny. Rest in peace my friend.”

As well as serving two terms as a state senator from 1983 to 1991, Morgan co-founded the Oxford-
based insurance company Morgan White Insurance with David White in 1987.

Morgan served on the North Mississippi Industrial Development Association and was involved with the
Mississippi Board of Economic Development. He was also a Lafayette County supervisor for eight years,
beginning in 2003.

Morgan was a partner in Morgan White Group and MWG Employer Services and was named in the
“Mississippi Top 50 Most Influential for 2019” in the Business, Media and Culture category by the site The site mentioned that the MorganWhite Group formed MWG Senior Healthcare “to assist
seniors in understanding the numerous and sometimes complex changes taking place within the Medicare system.”

His Morgan White Group of Jackson established the Morgan White Group Scholarship in insurance and human
resources management at Ole Miss to assist “deserving men and women who are pursuing degrees in the School
of Business Administration at the university, with recipients being selected by the School of Business Scholarship

When news of Morgan’s crash, and then the fact of his death became a reality, his friends’ grief poured out online. Some discussed their relationships with Morgan, while others talked about his service to the state.

And many mentioned both.

Gov. Tate Reeves said on Twitter he and first lady Elee Reeves were “devastated” by the news of Morgan’s death. “Johnny Morgan was perhaps the most fiercely loyal person I ever met. If he was with you….. He was WITH you! He loved Ole Miss, MS politics – and life!”

Lt. Gov. Delbert Hosemann posted on Facebook he had visited Morgan on the day before the deadly plane crash. “Yesterday evening, my friend Johnny Morgan and I visited in Oxford. Today, he is the victim of a tragic accident. Our State and Johnny’s legions of friends have lost laughter, a warm smile, a brilliant businessman, and a community and political leader. So very sad.”

Sen. Roger Wicker expressed his own grief: “Mississippi has lost a larger-than-life citizen and public servant, and I have lost a life-long friend. Johnny Morgan left his mark and leaves a void. A sad day.”

“I am crushed to hear about my old client Johnny Morgan today,” said political adviser Howie Morgan.

“Politician, entrepreneur, and living the coolest life of anyone I have ever met, he died in a plane crash outside Fayetteville, Arkansas today. Loved Ole Miss and his native Oxford. Successful businessman in everything he did. Supervisor, State Senator, and host of the Good Ole Boys and Gals – the largest political gathering in North Mississippi every year. He is an absolute legend. RIP my friend. …and thanks for being ‘Uncle Johnny’ that one time on Highway 7 north of Oxford that got me out of that ticket with the Mississippi Highway Patrol.”

AccelerateMS’s deputy director, Garrett McInnis, said that “[o]ne of (his) most memorable intros top politics
was Morgan’s Good Ole Boys event. Talk about walking into an overdose of old-tyme, southern retail politics at its core.”

Hayes Dent said that he was “devastated on the news of Johnny Morgan’s plane crash this afternoon… former Ole Miss cheerleader, state Senator, super successful entrepreneur but most importantly Chip’s brother and a great guy! Johnny left it all on the field…we’ll miss you greatly Johnny- RIP!!”

State Sen. Daniel Sparks, R-Belmont, revealed that he “had the opportunity to spend about 20 minutes with Johnny last night and be regaled with one more set of stories from a legend. Prayers of comfort for his family, Johnny Morgan, you will be sorely missed.”

“Like so many this evening, I am heartbroken that Mississippi has lost a great friend, statesman, and public servant – Johnny Morgan. My prayers and deepest sympathies to his family and friends,” added State Attorney General Lynn Fitch.

“Johnny Morgan was an innovator, great businessman, and a friend. When you were with him, he made you feel like you were his best friend and he infected everyone he met with his laughter and joy. RIP my friend,” said former governor Phil Bryant.

The plane crashed in the Brentwood Mountain area between Brentwood and Winslow in Washington County, Ark. The Washington County Sheriff’s Office told the media that Morgan’s body was transported to the Arkansas State Crime Lab for standard tests.

Flight data shows Morgan left Oxford-University Airport in a Beechcraft King Air 90 at 11:27 a.m. on
Wednesday. KNWA-TV reported that the Washington County Sheriff’s Office got a call around 12:30 p.m.
from a pilot reporting the sound of an airplane sputtering and then crashing.

Morgan lost radio contact just after 12:34 p.m. reports said. Emergency management crew members searched the remote site plane with Blackhawk helicopters that happened to be on a training exercise at the time. It took several hours to locate the plane crash site.

The plane, a gold and white twin-engine Beech King Air E-90, went down south of his destination of Fayetteville, the Washington County Arkansas Sheriff’s Office told media outlets.

Wreckage found just before 4 p.m. showed Morgan was the only one aboard and suffered fatal injuries.