|Remembering William Morgan|
Professor Emeritus of Languages William I. Morgan, who served in World War II as a German translator for the Allies before moving on to attain academic degrees in the language, died July 22 at Altru Hospital. He was 85.
Morgan served 34 years in the Department of Languages as a German instructor and scholar. He was a pioneer of sorts at UND, taking part in one of the school's first, if not first, international teacher exchange programs. In 1958, Morgan went to teach English at a German prep school near Cologne in western Germany, while a German professor and his wife came to UND to teach German. The German couple lived in Morgan's home during their stay in Grand Forks.
Morgan chaired the Languages Department from 1963 to 1967. While at UND, he was noted for his English translation of a German biography of Gerhart Hauptmann, the famed German playwright and Nobel Peace Prize Winner of 1912. Morgan's translation reveals for English readers the last years of Hauptmann's life and his devotion to his native homeland of Silesia, once part northern Germany, now in Poland. A German research committee requested the book be published so that more of the world would know about German possessions which are no longer part of modern Germany. Russia took control of Silesia in the waning stages of World War II, eventually ceding it to Poland.
Morgan was born Oct. 26, 1922 in Burlington, Iowa, to Charles and Betty Morgan. He graduated from Burlington High School in 1941, and spent two years at Burlington Junior College before joining the military.
Morgan served in the Army during World War II from 1943 to 1946. It was in the latter part of his service that he was used as a German interpreter by Allied Forces. He would say later, in an interview with the Grand Forks Herald newspaper, that it was his experience as a military interpreter that spurred him to pursue teaching German as a profession.
Morgan attended the University of Iowa in Iowa City, where he graduated with a bachelor of arts degree in German in 1948. He would go on to receive his Ph.D. in German at the University of Iowa in 1951.
Morgan began his teaching career at Mankato State College in 1951. In 1953, he started at UND as an assistant professor. He attained full professor status in 1974.
In 1987, Morgan retired from teaching at UND.
In his career at UND, Morgan served two terms on the University Senate and on various committees. He was a member of the American Association of Teachers of German, and was a longtime secretary-treasurer of the school's Phi Beta Kappa organization. He also was listed in the Directory of American Scholars.
Morgan was preceded in death by his parents. There were no surviving relatives listed for him.
No formal ceremonies have been scheduled at this time. Interment proceedings will be handled by Grand Forks County.