The Portadown business and wider communities are deeply shocked at the sudden death of Francis Joseph (Frank) Morgan who took suddenly ill while riding his favourite horse ‘Levi’ on Wednesday afternoon of last week.
Frank was found near his home at Red Lion Road. He was just 67 and there had been no sign of illness, which has compounded the grief of his close, loving family.
Frank’s was a well-rounded happy life, spent mainly in the fruit and vegetable world – he was an innovator, with a ready smile, a ready wit and a magnetic personality.
His mantra was that he loved his family, he loved his chosen profession and he was a devout Christian - all mixed in with a plethora of useful, healthful hobbies, not least his love for horses and his service as a Samaritan and prison visitor.
He will be missed most of all by the extended family he leaves behind – wife Carol, sons Franco and Michael, daughter Hannah; grandchildren Thomas, Annabelle and Poppy-Rose; son-in-law Niall Hughes and daughter-in law Marina.
The son of the late Felix and Anna Morgan of Kilmoriarty, he was predeceased by brothers Phelim and John. He attended the old Corcrain School at Obins Street and St Columba’s in Carleton Street, then he moved to St Patrick’s College, Armagh, before rounding off his formal education at Horticultural College, County Meath.
He was thankful that he hit on a career he loved – as a fruit and veg retailing expert, yet one with an open heart, who could communicate with his customers and make them feel all the better for having met him. He started off learning the trade at Benner’s Fruit Market in Belfast, and soon returned to his beloved Portadown to start his own business.
He was one of the first group of traders to set up shop at Magowan Buildings, West Street, in the early 1970s along with retailers like Knox Butchers and Holmes groceries.
A visionary, he was one of the town’s first business people to embrace self-service, and he loved his well set-out shop in those days when Portadown was truly a shopping hub for Mid Ulster.
Of course, his own personal charisma was a major asset, with people from all communities shopping at Frank’s – he built up a very healthy trade, based on quality and personal service.
Then, 20 years ago, Frank and the Knox family made the bold move from Magowan Buildings to set up a joint venture – ‘The Natural Food Court’ – at the old Temperance Hall further up West Street. It had lain idle for a decade and they transformed it into a truly thriving business.
When Frank’s brother Phelim passed away in 2005, he took over the family fruit-growing business at Kilmore, with the Knox family now in charge at West Street. Barry Knox described him as “a good and Godly man who did so many good works anonymously for many people”.
These included many years’ work with the local branch of the Samaritans at the end of a telephone helping callers with seemingly insoluble problems.
And he conducted prison visits to Maghaberry to help counsel young men from all communities affected by The Troubles.
He always wanted to give back to the community, and this was prompted by his firm Christian faith as a parishioner at St Patrick’s Church, Stonebridge.
Frank was also no slouch when it came to technology. In latter years he was attuned to his iPad, gleaning the latest news in the horsey world, general knowledge, news and sports – he had an extremely lively mind.
He owned three horses – ‘Levi’ was his favourite – and he was a keen members of the Long Distance Riding Association, packing his steeds into a horse box and attending meetings throughout the country. He never missed his favourite venue, the annual Dublin Horse Show.
He was a dapper dresser, resplendent in the appropriate ‘gear’, Panama hat and country tweeds! And he loved nothing better than simply being at the family Bramley orchard, leaning over the tractor and sharing witty stories and tall tales with great mates like Pat McKeever. It meant he was invariably in the bosom of a loving family, and the generations of the Morgans will miss him profoundly.
Requiem Mass in celebration of his life was at St Patrick’s Stonebridge on Saturday with a vast cross-community attendance. A feature was the wonderful solos of daughter-in-law Marina Morgan. Burial was at the family grave at Drumcree, Portadown.
Donations in lieu of flowers are to Craigavon Cardiac Care Association, Milne Funeral Services. 59 Seagoe Road, Portadown BT63 5HS.