Posthumous honor presented in memory of Alba native
ALBA - Pat Stage of Alba said her son, Robert Dale Morgan, always had a good work ethic.
She remembers when he was only 11 years old, and had a job running the vacuum at a former local eatery, the White Tavern, in Alba.
During his first year in college, he worked painting bridges in the county.
"He learned early on in life what hard work was all about," she commented.
Stage recalled his ability to maintain friendships and his knack for promotion, which he used in his career as a sports event coordinator, a position that would allow him to scale the heights of the sports world.
Today, Stage has enough memories of her son to warm her heart on a cold winter day. Sadly, he contracted glioblastoma, a brain tumor, and passed away at the age of 50 on Jan. 29, 2012.
She said he kept a network of friends, and "maintained that network of friends and acquaintances, and utilized them in some of his ventures in his lifetime. He had a strategic mind; he was a very brilliant man."
"He was always promoting, and working on his next big assignment."
Eventually, he would realize an accomplishment no less grand than bringing the Summer Olympics to Atlanta in 1996.
"He made the bid, he made the presentation," Stage recalled. This occurred in San Francisco before the International Olympic Committee. He made the presentation in his position with the Atlanta Sports Council, an organization devoted to the promotion of sporting events and other entertainment venues to Atlanta. He organized and spearheaded the organization.
Stage boasted that during the Olympics, he announced the baseball games, and took great care to pronounce the names of the baseball players from the various countries correctly. Stage said her son attributed his success with pronouncing the names to his French classes at Canton High School.
Looking back on his work for the Olympics, she remembered how he was able to get a very substantial donation for the event from Bill Dahlberg, who was the CEO of Southern Co.
"He also had to lobby the (Georgia) legislature for a tax anticipation grant, which he successfully obtained," Stage said. This was for the Olympics.
These days, in Stage's home in Alba, a crystal trophy in the shape of a football sits atop her computer desk.
She received the honor when Robert Dale was inducted posthumously into the Chick-Fil-A Bowl Hall of Fame, prior to the game that was played in the Georgia Dome in Atlanta on Dec. 31 last year.
His parents, Stage and Claude Morgan, and step-mother, Carol Morgan, attended the formal induction, and received the honor on his behalf.
The award was in honor of his work with the Chick-Fil-A Bowl. Robert Dale's obituary tells the story of how he made the event a reality:
"In 1988, Robert Dale joined the ranks of the Atlanta Chamber of Commerce, which was in the throes of restoring new life to a struggling Peach Bowl. Having served as an assistant to the director, he moved into the executive director position and turned the Peach Bowl into a corporate-sponsored Chick-Fil-A Peach Bowl by increasing attendance and economic stimulus." He was executive director from 1986-98.
Stage said the induction ceremony honoring her son and four other men into the Bowl's Hall of Fame was "fabulous."
"It was awesome, it was packed," she said. "It had sold out."
"It just took my breath away to be that close to the players and the cheerleaders."
She thinks that her son would have been thrilled about the induction.
"He would be elated and really cherish the honor in it," she said. She noted that people who worked with him at the Chick-Fil-A Bowl were instrumental in getting him inducted.
Robert Dale graduated from Canton Area High School in 1979, and graduated from Penn State with a degree in journalism in 1983.
A biography notes that he went on to become, in his own words, "a big event guy."
"Many of the organizations he worked for said of him, "R.D. Will Get It Done!" the biography states.
His obituary provides some additional background:
"Upon graduating from Penn State, he was granted a fellowship to the Miller High Life Olympic Training Camp in Colorado Springs, Colo., which was the springboard to his career in the sporting business profession.
At the conclusion of the fellowship, Robert Dale obtained an internship at the Sun Belt Conference in Tampa, Fla., which led to employment as Director of Sports Information at the University of Tampa, where he remained for two years."
"Moving ever upward in his career, it was in 1998 through 2000, he joined forces with the National Football League, having accepted the position of president and CEO of Metro Atlanta Super Bowl XXVIII Host Committee.
As an avid golfer, he turned his favorite pastime into a new career path by joining the ranks of the PGA Tour as vice president/championship management, a position he held for two years and traveling extensively throughout the country."
"It was in 2002 that he was recruited to Houston, Texas, to secure the bid for Houston to host the XXXIV Super Bowl, and he served as president and CEO of the Houston Super Bowl XXXVII Host Committee. Mr. Morgan was also actively involved in preparing an IROC event, as well as the Senior Olympic Games.
After the events and conclusion of Super Bowl XXXVII, Mr. Morgan formed his own corporation and was the managing director of ProActive Consulting Group."
The last big chapter in his career was president and executive director 2011 Houston Final Four LOC, held at Reliant Park from April 2 through April 4, 2011. He experienced great pride in the success of that event."
In addition, Stage noted, Robert Dale secured the NCAA Final Four tournament for 2014 in Texas.
"He could name the statistics on any sporting event," Stage said, recalling his love of sports. She noted that, as a child, Robert Dale played Legion baseball and Little League, and though he didn't play scholastic sports, he announced for the teams.
His Legion ball coach, the late Lyle Vermilya, said Robert Dale was "one of the most coach-able boys" he had ever seen, she remembered.
As his obituary states, "Robert Dale Morgan possessed a zest for life, passion for his career, and an infectious smile that will be missed by a myriad of true and loyal friends and acquaintances he made through his life."
Stage said, "I'm really a proud mother of him, as is his father and stepmother."
Eric Hrin can be reached at (570) 297-5251; email: email@example.com.