Bertha Guy Morgan

Bertha Alice (Jerelyn) Guy Morgan transitioned peacefully on November 16, 2021 surrounded by family at the University of Maryland Capital Region Medical Center in Prince George's County, MD, who expressed their thanks for her positive presence in their lives. 

Bertha was the second of three children born to Frazier Guy and Alder Louise Williams Guy on November 17th, 1926 in a log cabin in an area then known as Bullfrog Corner in what is now Southaven, Mississippi.  

Bertha was preceded in death by her husband of 57 years, Philip Leroy Morgan and by her brother, Frazier Guy II.  

Bertha accepted Christ as a child at Brown Missionary Baptist Church in Southaven.  She attended Iredell School, a one room schoolhouse in Hornlake, Mississippi where her Mother taught grades 1-6.  Bertha attended Baptist Industrial (BI) School in Hernando, Mississippi for grades 7 and 8.  BI was a private school built by the North Mississippi Baptist Educational Convention to educate the children and grandchildren of freed slaves.

 The State of Mississippi did not offer high school to Negroes so in order to complete her education she moved to Memphis, TN. and lived with her sister and brother in law, Gertrude and Eddie Bridgeforth,  graduating from George Washington Carver High School. 

As a young person in the Jim Crow South, Bertha knew “field work” picking cotton and “day's work” cleaning homes.  As a child, Bertha had been confronted by the Klu Klux Klan looking through her bedroom window in full sheeting with torch lit.

It was in Memphis, on Beale Street, that Bertha met Leroy while waiting for a “five and dime” store to open.  She'd seen him while serving as a USO hostess at Millington Navy Base, where Leroy was stationed.  They would eventually elope  to Arkansas and marry.   

Relocating to Leroy's home in Washington D.C., Bertha and  Leroy would buy property and would work as “blockbusters”.   Giving the appearance of living in a property would prompt Whites to flee the neighborhood dropping the price of real estate so Bertha and Leroy could achieve their dream of becoming property owners.  In return for blockbusting Mr. Robert Humpries, a realtor who held empathy for Blacks after his family survived the Holocaust, would hold the mortgage on property they were interested in purchasing for themselves.  Bertha once put a down payment on a property in coins with tips collected as a waitress.  She worked as a waitress and again did “day's work” until she passed the Civil Service Exam necessary at that time for Federal employment.

Bertha and her family were heavily involved in the Civil Rights Movement in both Washington D.C. and Memphis, hosting families that traveled to the area for the 1963 March on Washington and bringing people home from the National Mall who traveled to DC to protest during the 1968 “Tent City.” Later she would take both her grandson's to participate in the Million Man March.  Early on Bertha participated in a protest held by Mary Church Terrell at the Hecht Company in Washington, D.C., to protest the mistreatment of  Negro customers where Blacks could “buy but not try” on clothing.  Bertha  participated in lunch counter demonstrations at Hecht's where again - Blacks could buy a hot dog but couldn't sit to eat it.  In 1964 after moving to what is now historic Anacostia, her car was pelted with eggs.  On February 9, 1966, she would accompany her Father to give testimony before the United States Congress that he and his wife had been denied the right to vote.  His testimony is documented in the U.S. Congressional Record.

Bertha was a 40 years breast cancer survivor.

Bertha was an active member of the Daughters of Dorcas Quilting Club at Calvary Episcopal Church in DC and was active in the the Anacostia Garden Club.  Bertha participated in activities held by the Prince George's County Senior Citizen organization, lead by Mabel Terrell, in Upper Marlboro Maryland as long as she was able.  For many years Bertha was a member of the Jewels social club of Washington, D.C.

Bertha was a founding member of Faith Baptist and John S. Thomas Memorial Baptist Churches both in Washington, D.C.  At John S. Thomas Memorial she founded the Silent Club whose purpose was to make anonymous donations in support of people in need.  She also sang in the choir.  

Bertha joined Emmanuel Baptist Church, Washington, D.C., with her husband more than 45 years ago.  At Emmanuel she participated in and was Past President of the Sunshine Club.  From 2014 to 2021 illness made it impossible for her to attend services regularly at Emmanuel.  She was thankful that  her childhood church, Brown Missionary Baptist Church  held online services which she watched faithfully every Sunday.   Once services were available online, her weekly message to Emmanuel was that she was present and accounted for.   If the doors of the church were open, she was there in spirit by the internet.  In retirement Bertha was able to travel with members of her Emmanuel Baptist Church family.

In 1999 Bertha and Leroy founded the Leroy Morgan Scholarship for high school graduates of Appomattox, Virginia, to further their education donating more than $20,000.  This work continues under the guidance of the Appomattox County Assembly (Mr. Milton Chambers, President).  Appomattox, Virginia, “where the Civil War ended,” was Leroy's family home.

Bertha worked for the Federal Government for 35 years starting at the Census Bureau, moving to the Treasury's Bureau of Engraving,  then to what is now the National Geospatial Intelligence Agency, retiring as an Analyst from the Defense Intelligence Agency.  

Letters of thanks found among her personal papers, are testimony to Bertha mentoring young women among them Pamela Gray and Lynda Mosley of Washington, D.C., and Loretta Scott of Gaston, North Carolina.

Bertha leaves to mourn her passing, daughter, Carolyn Morgan Baker, of Washington, D.C, Bertha's older sister, Gertrude Guy Bridgeforth of Southaven, Mississippi (who will celebrate her 100th birthday next year), a grandson, Scott Baker, a grandson and his wife, Brian and Ashley Baker of Mitchellville, Maryland,  nieces and nephews:  Rachel Morgan Lewis of Washington, D.C, Cornelius and Charlene Morgan of Herndon, Virginia, Phillip and Lelia Thompson of Portland Oregon,  Willie Allyson Robinson of Denver, Colorado, Brenda Pegues, Alicia Edwards, Frazier Guy III, and Perry and Veronica Bond of Memphis, Tennessee, many cousins and friends in Tennessee, and Mississippi and the District of Columbia.  She also leaves her dog, Onyx Morgan Baker, of Mitchellville.  

The family of Bertha Morgan would like to thank the Scott Salerno family of Great Falls, Virginia, the Louis Simmons Family of Pawley's Island and Georgetown, South Carolina, the Dr. Ivy Savoy and the  Savoys of Upper Marlboro, MD, the Chambers and Wood families of Appomattox, Virginia, and  Mr. and Mrs. Ryan Radel of Klingerstown, Pennsylvania for their support. 

Nephew and Minister, Craig Bevier of Newburgh, New York, will lead the ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery where Bertha's remains will be vaulted alongside those of her late husband, Leroy.

The family asks that tributes to Bertha be made by donation to: 

The Leroy Morgan Scholarship 

c/o Damon Chambers, Scholarship Executor

The Appomattox County Assembly

425 West Patricia Anne Lane, Appomattox, VA.

The family thanks you for your many prayers, cards, phone calls and kindnesses. 

Persevere.