MORGAN - Aided state school religious curricula
Author: JOE SIMNACHER, Staff Writer
As an Austin Sunday school teacher in the 1960s, Josephine "Jo" Morgan became a
pioneer in adopting Sunday school curricula to meet the needs of mentally
In the '70s, as coordinator of religious education at the Denton State School,
she helped disabled people deal with their sexuality as they moved into open
society for the first time.
Mrs. Morgan, 87, died Monday of complications from dementia at The Traymore in
A memorial service will be at 11 a.m. Monday at the First United Methodist
Church in Denton. Her ashes will be buried in
Furneaux Cemetery in
"She was always looking out for the person who needed something different," said
her daughter Gretchen Morgan of Sacramento, Calif.
Born in Dallas, Mrs. Morgan was a graduate of Highland Park High School and
Southern Methodist University, where she studied English and sociology.
She married the Rev. James William Morgan, a Methodist minister. The couple was
assigned to University Methodist Church in Austin, where she noticed the Sunday
school curriculum wasn't all-inclusive.
At the time, she was certified to train Methodist Sunday school teachers. She
began modifying the programs, something that included working with other
denominations and faiths, her family said.
"The students responded because she was reaching them with an important message
at a level that they could understand," said her daughter Joanna Shields of
Dallas. "The families were grateful, and the churches were, too. This was
something new; it hadn't been done."
In 1969, the couple moved to the First United Methodist Church in Denton. Mrs.
Morgan became coordinator of religious education at the Denton State School, a
post she held from 1970 until her 1977 retirement.
In the '70s, mentally disabled people began moving from large institutions to
more residential settings, such as group homes. Mrs. Morgan helped pioneer
sex-education materials the residents needed in their more open surroundings.
"People didn't talk about it in those days," Ms. Morgan said. "My mother was
actually able to get away with it. She brought some respectability - this
gray-haired lady from the chaplaincy office, who was able to talk very directly
and yet very calmly. She was able to get the message across."
Mrs. Morgan was a member of the First United Methodist Church in Denton, the
United Methodist Women and the League of Women Voters. She served for several
years on the advisory board of the Foster Grandparents Project at the Denton
State School and the League of Women Voters.
Mr. Morgan died in January 2000.
In addition to her daughters, Mrs. Morgan is survived by a third daughter,
Bronwen Everton of Battle Ground, Ind.; six grandchildren and one
Memorials may be designated for the chapel at the Denton State School through
the Volunteer Services Council of the Denton State School, P.O. Box 368, Denton,
Texas 76202-0368, or to any church the Morgans served.
The Dallas Morning News - Saturday, February 1, 2003
Edward Lynn Williams