It began with the 1961 Plus Four Roadster I purchased from my father in 1966.
This was my everyday car while I was attending Georgia State University where I had the good fortune to meet Dale, my wife of now fifty plus years.
We dated in that car for almost a year until it was sold and replaced with a yellow 1961 VW convertible (but that is another story).
Fast forward twenty years, we were raising three children, both working and dealing with all that goes along with a dual income, hardworking, busy family.
In celebration of our 20th wedding anniversary Dale said she wanted to give me another Morgan.
The search for a car began the Sunday after Thanksgiving of 1988.
Amy and Adam and I journeyed to a small British Car event in downtown Atlanta where we met Lance Lipscomb as well as Bob and Wynell Bruce and Maidie and Charlie Williams, all members of MOGSouth. I told them of my quest for another Morgan and by Monday afternoon, Lance, called and said he had found a car.
The car was in a basement in a home in Marietta and was being sold because the owner had begun a rebuild but had by then given up on the project.
I purchased the car on sight and all of the various pieces and brought it home.
It needed painting as well as an interior and reassembly and with help from Don Simpkins, Fred Sisson and Lance the car came together in early 1989 and made its formal debut at the MCCDC National Meet that summer after traveling in caravan from Atlanta along with Fred and Roni Sisson and their three year old daughter Sam.
The car was frequently driven to many meets and Morgan events over the next thirty years where we made long lasting friendships with the many members of the Morgan community.
After the MOGSouth Christmas Party of 2016, Dale and I made the decision that it was time to “freshen” the Morgan as it was showing its age and the wear and tear of 30 years of enjoyment. This car is not a “garage queen”. It was driven and enjoyed weekly for almost thirty years.
After several fits and starts, I reached out to Mitch Bressler of MSA Classics in Carrollton, Georgia to handle the project.
I had met Mitch just after the car was first on the road when he worked with Jon Stamps of Jon Stamps Racing and they had performed several major repairs to the car.
Mitch had begun full time vintage race car preparation and car restoration as well as general maintenance with his company MSA Classics in a large facility in Carrollton.
As it turns out, what was to be a “freshening” became a full body off frame up restoration and now it sports a completely rebuilt engine and transmission, new brake and electrical systems, rebuilt transmission, aluminum radiator and fuel tank, new floorboards, complete respray and complete new custom fit leather interior.
In effect, it is a new 1967 Plus Four and in my opinion, the result is stunning.
Thanks to Mitch Bressler and his company MSA Classics and his local suppliers and craftsmen as well as Morgan Spares, Lonnie Bailey, who painted the car and Northpoint Auto Upholstery, and especially to Dale, my wife of now fifty plus years, the Morgan Rides Again!
We lost another MOGSouth stalwart. Bob Bruce passed away on Sunday, 30 December, just shy of the New Year. He was 81 years old.
Most of the relatively new MOGSouth folks wouldn’t remember the Bruces but those of us that have been around MOGSouth for a while certainly do. Wynell Bruce was a past president of MOGSouth so Bob was always there with the Morgan.
My first introduction to MOGSouth was when Wynell was the president. I was in some position of authority in MCCDC and had dealings with MOGSouth about support for a MCCDC MOG meet or some such. This was around 1990 or so. MOGSouth was seen as the ‘standard,’ organized, vital and aptly led.
The Bruce’s lovely Blue Plus 4 2 Seater (Elizabeth) was always at the meets. (There was a three wheeler, called Angus??, as well, that needed a bit of TLC. ) Bob was pilot for Eastern Airlines, then Eastern Airlines did their thing and Bob was piloting aircraft, island hopping as it was, in the Caribbean. Bob took this all in stride and his understated sense of humor always rose to the top.
At one point a MOGSouth event in the islands was discussed. Now that would have been interesting!
Eventually the Bruce’s came back to the cars and house in Kennesaw. The most memorable Bob moment for me was the phone call. There was a message on the tape machine. Bob had called. I returned the call, asking ‘what’s up?’ Bob was abrupt and asked frankly ‘What ever happened to the Five Dollar lunch?’
Now that took me a bit by surprise. He was reacting to a recent MOGSouth event and comparing it to earlier times. I think the question may have been partially in jest, but I failed to adequate provide a reasonable answer, so he kept hammering me. Bob was a happy guy with an infectious smile. He always expected the best.
I do have to say, that I think of Bob and his question often these days, especially when I am negotiating, on behalf of MOGSouth, something that costs real money. I guess his question left a mark!
After that the Bruce’s haven’t been seen too often, although they maintain their affiliation with the club but haven’t participated in any of the more recent MOGSouth events. I know, sometimes it is just too hard, or there are too many conflicts. The trike was sold to Lee Gaskins, if I remember correctly and the Plus 4, I believe, is still in Kennesaw.
The obituary as posted is as follows.
Robert S. “Bob” Bruce November 10, 1937 – December 30, 2018 Robert S. “Bob” Bruce, Sr., 81, of Kennesaw, died Sunday, December 30, 2018. A graveside memorial service will be held at 3:00 on Tuesday afternoon, January 8, 2019, in the Georgia National Cemetery, Canton. Mr. Bruce was born in Michigan but had lived in Kennesaw since 1972, coming from Miami. He retired from Eastern Airlines as a pilot and was Presbyterian. Surviving are his wife of 59 years, Wynell Bruce of Kennesaw; son, Robert S. (Laura) Bruce, Jr., of Dallas; grandchildren, Rob Bruce, Alicia Bruce, Tyler Bauch, and Austin Bauch; great grandson, J J Bruce.
Collins Funeral Home, Acworth, is in charge of arrangements.
GRAVESIDE MEMORIAL SERVICE – Tuesday January 8, 2019, 3:00 PM at Georgia National Cemetery, 1080 Scott Hudgens Dr, Canton, GA 30114
It was early morning on Christmas Eve that Betsy McOmber passed away. Her family was there and she was in no pain so that was good. Even if the Morgan Car thing was predominantly Gene’s she was always a vibrant presence at the MOGSouth gatherings. If she wasn’t there, her absence was always noted. ‘Where was Betsy’, everyone would ask. Betsy loved her music, her Church and she loved to play the piano and sing. It really is difficult for us, as a community, and we cannot adequately express our feelings of loss. But, we still have the many wonderful memories of car meets, road trips, omelet parties, racing trophies, the house in SC, the house in FL, the family and more. These we will not forget. A true and wonderful friend to us all and she will be greatly missed.
The Obituary in The Sarasota, FL Herald-Tribune is reprinted below.
McOmber, Betsy Lane Thomas – Mar 7,1940 – Dec 24, 2018
Betsy was raised in Grosse Pointe, Michigan by her parents Byron R. and Mildred Stein Thomas.
Betsy graduated from Grosse Pointe High South in 1958 and went on to Western Michigan University in Kalamazoo, MI. She graduated in 1962 with a Bachelor of Science Degree and in 1966 with a Master of Arts Degree. She was a member of Sigma Alpha Iota Musical Fraternity.
Betsy taught 3rd grade at Westwood Elementary school in Kalamazoo from 1962-1967. In 1963, she married Gene LeIsle McOmber of Allegan, MI. Their first son, Thomas Clair, was born in 1967 at which time Betsy began giving piano lessons in her home in Westwood. Two more sons were born in 1970 and 1978 – Richard Morgan and Robert Thomas.
While living in Kalamazoo, Betsy was very active in the Kalamazoo Orchestra League and also her church – 1st Church of Christ, Scientist. She enjoyed selling advertising for 5 years to the Christian Science Monitor, an international daily newspaper. Betsy loved opportunities to play piano background music for various social events and singing in Jan Berghorst’s Women’s Choral group. She greatly admired her parents’ musical talents, both of whom were professional musicians. Her mother was her first piano teacher and instilled in her a deep love of music.
In 1994, Betsy and Gene retired to beautiful Keowee Key in Salem, SC where they lived for 17 years and enjoyed sharing their deck boat with family and friends. Betsy continued her musical involvements by singing in the Key Koraliers and joining a piano group called The Piano Connection where she played solos, duets, and quartets. Betsy and Gene were both very active in the Blue Ridge Art Center and Betsy became coordinator of an art program called Picture Person involving eleven elementary schools. At the 1st Church of Christ, Scientist in Seneca, she was Keyboardist for many years.
In 2011, Betsy and Gene re-retired to Sarasota, FL to be closer to their son, Tom, his wife Melissa, and their grandson, Cole. More musical opportunities opened up for Betsy as she joined the Village Walk Singers and two piano groups – Piano Friends and Musical Friends. At Third Church of Christ, Scientist, she was the music coordinator.
Being married to a car enthusiast, Betsy was an active member of The Foothills British Car Club in SC, the Suncoast British Car Club group in Sarasota, and the Morgan Owners Group South. Betsy loved sharing her husband’s interest in cars and touring in their Morgan. Supporting Gene’s 47 years of racing a Morgan was a highlight of her life.
Betsy’s most favorite hobby was playing the piano and sharing her talent with others. She also was very devoted to writing – keeping in touch with friends and helping them through tough challenges consumed much of her time. She valued each person who came into her life.
She also loved remodeling homes with her husband, doing yard work, entertaining, and going to concerts and plays. Sharing musical time with her grandson, Cole, in Sarasota was especially meaningful to her. Betsy’s husband, three sons, two daughter in laws, and three grandchildren made her very proud and she will be forever grateful for their loving attention to her.
Betsy was predeceased by her parents and only sibling, Terrell E. Thomas, of Mt. Dora, Fl in 2017. She is survived by her husband Gene McOmber and Thomas & Melissa (Sarasota, FL), Richard (MI) Robert & Francheska (UT) Grand children Morgayn, (NV) Cole (FL), Camilla (UT).
“A Celebration of Life” will be held at the Turtle Rock Community Ctr. (8500 Turtle Rock Blvd. Sarasota 34238) on Friday evening January 18th from 5 to 8 PM.
An open house is to be held at the Turtle Rock Community Ctr., 8500 Turtle Rock Blvd. Sarasota 34238 on Friday evening January 18th, from 5 to 8 PM. Please bring your British car (weather permitting) if possible.
Suggested Hotels: Comfort Suites Sarasota Siesta Key: 5690 Honore Ave. Sarasota, FL 34233 (941)554-4475, Holiday Inn Express and Suites Sarasota: 5730 Gantt Rd. Sarasota, FL 34233 (941)925-0631
Memorials to: Gator Wilderness Camp School, 44930 Farabee Rd
Punta Gorda, FL 33982 http://www.gatorwildernesscamp.com/
[2018 was a great year!! Let’s see if we can make 2019 even better!!
Happy Holidays to you and yours. Mark, Andrea and the rest of the MOGSouth team.]
“Twas the night before Christmas and out in the shed
Sat a tired old Morgan, It’s battery near dead,
Its wings were rusted and the doors wont close
The seats and carpets look like old Renault’s.
The tyres had dry rot, the fuel tank was leaking,
And a turn of the wheel sent the tie-rods a-creaking
So I put on my coat with a weight in my heart
And went to the shed to get it to start.
The engine turned over– there arose such a clatter!
And I knew from the sound it was water-pump chatter.
From under the dashboard there came a bright flash,
The wiring harness had just turned to ash!!
I’ve had it with this Morgan I finally swore.
Enough is too much, I can’t take anymore:
When what to my red teary eyes should appear,
But a little old bloke–(Hell I need a beer).
“Cheers” he said grinning from ear to ear,
“You need my help, I’m an engineer”.
“This one can be saved, there’s no need to grieve,
All you need is faith; You gotta believe”
A hammer, some duct tape, get me more tools!!
When you work on these cars, just make up the rules,
We’ll get her cranked over, and no way will she stall
But stand over there with your back to the wall”
A cough and a sputter, the cacophony was stunning!
I couldn’t believe it the damn thing was running.
The ghost winked at me, and said kicking a tyre.
“What ever you do: Don’t touch this wire!!”
The old bloke then vanished amongst sneezes and snorts
But when the smoke cleared he had left me some parts!!
So I opened the shed door and let the top down,
Put pedal to metal and went out on the town,
And I thought to myself as I missed second gear,
MERRY CHRISTMAS TO ALL AND A HAPPY NEW YEAR
Reprint Courtesy of Barry Marshall of Talk Morgan.
[This report came from MOGSouth member Don Moodie. Others in MOGSouth participated and from all reports, the event was a wonderful time for all! Mark]
In addition to the various Concours, Cars and Coffees and Noggins, there was another, I’d say significant, Morgan activity which also took place this year.
The Morgan Northwest Passage Road Trip in September 2018
I thought the club might be interested in how it began and how it played out.
The initial announcement was broadcast over a year ago on August 31st of 2017 to a select list of club members. Those who had participated in the 1000 mile Pub Crawl around The Chesapeake were given early notice of this much more ambitious road trip. Apparently taking part in that earlier circumnavigation put a tick mark by certain names, identifying them as likely candidates for a trip all the way to the Pacific Northwest. During the Summer word of the trip became more widely known and additional club members decided to join in on the adventure. Eventually we had eleven cars signed up, including seven Morgans, one Lotus, one Jaguar, one MGB and a Ford Edge chase car.
The germ of the idea came from Bob McKenna and Gary Kneisley. In the months between the first suggestion and the actual departure there was much planning and re-planning to be done. Bob and Gary put in countless hours refining the itinerary, planning the route and lining up hotels while Reg Hahn and Bill Button contributed valuable tweaks to the route.
By the time we were about to head out on the road, Bill Button had also compiled what he called The Bedside Reader. It contained day by day descriptions of the areas we would be driving through and the history of each. It was an outstanding addition to our understanding and appreciation of what we were experiencing.
In broad terms the plan was to reconnoiter in Cincinnati right after Labor Day 2018. From there we would make a kind of “forced march” to Rapid City, South Dakota. The pace and distance covered each of those early days was a reflection of the fact that a lot of the middle of the country is comparatively uninteresting. But Mount Rushmore, South Dakota, and for some of us The Badlands, were the beginning of the major sites for this trip. From Rushmore we continued on to the furthest point in the lower forty eight before turning left and going South through Oregon and California.
But while we were still heading West from Rushmore, we passed through Needles, Crazy Horse National Monument, Deadwood, The Little Big Horn Battle Field, Cody, Yellowstone National Park, Glacier National Park and Cascades National Park. At that point we were two weeks into the trip. We boarded the ferry over to Port Townsend, Washington and Olympic National Park. Being the furthest possible Northwestern point it was the justification for calling this The Northwest Passage Road Trip.
From there, driving down through Oregon and Northern California we passed through Crater Lake and Lassen National Park. Another left brought us to Reno Nevada where we visited the outstanding Harrah Car Museum. At that point some of us would return home by whatever route we chose while others would extend the trip to visit with family or take in more of the sensational National Parks. Since we were in the Reno/Tahoe area I wanted to drive through the famous Donner Pass. As it turned out we drove through from East to West rather than the homeward direction which meant I had to turn around and go up and through again. So that particular bucket list item got checked twice.
Madeline and I then made our way home via Zion, Arches. Bryce Canyon, Grand Canyon, Capitol Reef and Canyonlands National Parks. Incredible! As we were at that point thirty days into the trip and still West of Denver, it was time for another “forced march” through the middle of the country. Altogether we were on the road thirty-seven days, covering 9,300 miles and visiting fourteen National Parks and attractions.
It made for a truly epic road trip!!
2018 Photo Galleries
[These pictures are courtesy Pat and Ken Kreuzer. Thank You!!]