Former resident of North Charleroi determined to tell more life stories
By Ron Paglia
Published: Saturday, March 9, 2013, 9:00 p.m.
Part 4 of 4
Kathryn S. “Kaye” Eisenhower Morgan entered another important phase of her life after leaving North Charleroi, where she and her brother, Earl D. Eisenhower Jr., and their parents, Earl D. Eisenhower Sr. and Kathryn Eisenhower, lived for several years.
Morgan, the niece of the late President Dwight D. Eisenhower, was a student at Pennsylvania State College when she reigned as Queen of the 26th annual Apple Blossom Festival in Winchester, Va., in 1953 and was invited to participate in other pageants.
But she left Penn State University to pursue a course in business at the Moser School in Chicago. While living there, she met Tom Morgan, whom she soon married, and then moved to Kansas City, due to her husband's job as a traveling salesman. Thereafter, job opportunities resulted in their transferring to Houston, Cincinnati and finally Rockford, Ill. The parents of four children, they left Illinois in 1971 and settled in Arizona, where Morgan lived until 2009, when she moved to Arroyo Grande, Calif., a community of 17,200 in San Luis Obispo County.
Tom died in 2000 in Scottsdale, Ariz.
Morgan's career path evolved after her studies at Moser Secretarial School in Chicago.
“I left Penn State in 1955 due to failing grades,” she said. “Looking back, my life was too impacted by travel and political doings to really concentrate on studies. The Moser School was renowned for its excellent graduates, and businesses were always lined up waiting for new graduates. I graduated as an executive secretary, ready to assist top management in running their offices.”
Her first job — “great, really interesting” — was with the National Safety Council.
She went to work for Commander-Larrabee Flour Mills in Kansas City after she and Tom moved there.
“Our first child was born a few months after we transferred to Houston and then a second a year later,” she recalled. “We had two more children after moving to Madeira, Ohio. It kept me quite busy with four children.”
After moving to Tucson, Ariz., Kaye resumed working with Kruger Manufacturing and later took a job with Motorola's Government Electronic Division (now part of General Dynamics) in Scottsdale.
She and Tom were divorced in 1977, and the job with Motorola inspired her to “climb the corporate ladder ... to earn more money to support four kids.” That determination led to her managerial positions in Human Resources, Material Inventory Control and Contracts, where she negotiated contracts with federal government agencies including the Defense Contract Audit Agency.
“Motorola soon thereafter lost about half its contracts, and some of us were moved out of that department and had to find other jobs,” Morgan said. “But fate smiled on me. Motorola was creating an IT (Information Technology) department at that time, and I was selected to be the system administrator for one of the networks. It was interesting but stressful. Part of the stress was due to Motorola constantly reinventing itself as the market dwindled. Top managers kept their jobs, but the rest of us were constantly being reshuffled. I finally bit the bullet and retired early.”
She also resumed her education at Arizona State University in Tempe and eventually earned a bachelor of science degree from the University of Phoenix.
Morgan's parents also moved to Illinois when her father took a job as vice president of marketing with Suburban Life Newspapers.
“He began working there around 1952, but he commuted for a couple of years while my brother was still in high school,” Morgan said. “He didn't want to disrupt a kid in senior high. We moved officially in 1954 to LaGrange, Illinois.”
In addition to his work with the suburban newspaper chain, Earl Eisenhower also served in the Illinois House of Representatives (1965-67). A 1923 graduate of the University of Washington with a degree in electrical engineering, he and his wife later moved to Scottsdale, Ariz., where he died on Wednesday, Dec. 18, 1968, at age 70.
His wife died Sept. 17, 1986, in Scottsdale, and both are interred in the Masonic section of Greenwood Memorial Cemetery.
Morgan's brother, Earl D. “Bud” Eisenhower Jr., also graduated from Charleroi High School.
Before receiving his diploma with the Class of 1954 he was editor of the Cougar Memoir yearbook, homecoming chairman and member of the Senior Executive Committee, Forensic Club, debate team and extemporaneous speakers.
“Earl's activities as a tireless worker and his personality will bring him certain success in all enterprises,” yearbook staff members wrote in a tribute to him in 1954.
As editor of the 1954 Memoir, Eisenhower invited his Uncle Ike to send congratulations to the senior class. President Eisenhower fulfilled that request, in part, as follows: “Policy and precedent both declare that the President should not send a personal message to any graduating class, lest in so doing he offend many others who have invited him to participate in similar fashion in their commencement festivities. Nevertheless, my nephew's membership in your class makes your graduation from the Charleroi High School a matter of family importance, and I cannot refrain from wishing you well.”
The President's message and photo were featured prominently in the 1954 CHS yearbook.
Before enlisting in the military, Earl Eisenhower was a pre-law student at Penn State University, where his uncle, Milton Eisenhower, served as president. He was assigned to the U.S. Army Security Agency and deployed to Germany. Following a three-year Army career, he attended Georgetown University at the Foreign Office School.
Earl worked for U.S. Sen. Barry Goldwater in many capacities including staff director of the Senate Committee on Intelligence, press secretary to the senator and speech writer.
He moved to Arizona after Goldwater's presidential campaign in 1964 and enjoyed a successful career with the Management System Section of Motorola's Aerospace Center. He and his wife Judy were the parents of a son, Barry, and had one grandson.
He died at age 76 on Sept. 27, 2012, in Scottsdale, where he had lived for many years.
“My brother passed away after many years of failing health,” Morgan said.
Morgan and Earl Jr. participated in a book signing in Abilene to introduce “The Eisenhower Legacy: A Tribute to Ida Stover Eisenhower and David Jacob Eisenhower” on May 1, 2010. Ida and David were Morgan's grandparents. She and her brother were accompanied at the program by Bob Fegan, the son of Morgan's cousin Patricia Eisenhower Fegan, the daughter of Roy Eisenhower. Bob was born and still lives in Junction City and attends many of the Eisenhower events in Abilene “because he is so close,” Morgan said.
Morgan is far from finished recounting her life, and she is writing a second book about her experiences as a member of the illustrious American family..
“It's been very interesting, that's for sure,” she said of that life.
“I remember so many things about our families and other topics. There are the Depression years of the 1930s and the years that followed, young men going off to war, our graduating class, which was the smallest in years at that time, good friends and great times. So many young men joined the military, went to work in the steel mills, became policemen or pursued other careers. Few went to college, but the amazing thing was that they all sent their kids to college.”
She said “too many” of her classmates and longtime friends have died, so she tries to stay in touch with others “as much as possible.”
“There's so much history and so little time to tell it all,” Morgan said. “We all have a history, and each of them should be told.”
Ron Paglia is a freelance writer.
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