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Mike was born April 2, 1935, in Redmond, and was raised in Northern California in Modoc County. He attended grade school at Davis Creek and high school at Alturas, Calif.
Mike worked at several ranches, including the MC Ranch at Adel, and the Powers U Ranch at Eagleville, Calif., where he buckarooed and broke colts. He competed in amateur rodeo, mostly the riding events, in the early 50s. By 1954, Mike had made his way to Harney County and went to work on the Carlon Ranch at Silver Creek. Mike later married their daughter, Betty, in December of the same year.
From January 1955 to December 1956, Mike served in the Army in the Korean War. After returning home, the Carlon Ranch was home until it sold in 1960. Mike and Betty then bought the old Harry Williams Ranch at Silver Creek where they lived until 1976, when they sold out and bought their present home at the Sandhill east of Burns.
Shortly after returning from the service, Mike began serving on the Burns Rodeo Committee, and two years later was elected to the fair association where he served for 17 years, and was president in 1967 and 1968. Mike remembers the Burns Times-Herald as the rodeo office, and the secretary’s office was two tin suitcases. While Mike was in the fair association, they got new bucking chutes to replace the old ones that were once at the west end of the arena, where the calf chute is now; and put in a new race track and guard rail. Probably the best improvement to the grounds Mike saw was the grass parking areas, which he remembered used to get so dusty the cars needed their headlights on.
Mike, along with three others, were responsible for starting the Harney County Stockgrowers Futurity around 1957. Also during his stay on the fair association, Mike was instrumental in starting the Demolition Derby with a budget of only $500. He also helped start the fund for the multi-purpose building by collecting sick and crippled cattle along with other donations.
We can’t forget his love for the young people, which he has shown by starting and sponsoring the mutton busting rodeo event in 1989, working the 4-H Livestock Auction, and hauling market animals for about 35 years. Mike was honored as Harney County Grand Marshal in 1991.
The Morgan’s went out of the cattle business in 2010 – “retirement” was not in their vocabulary and foreign to their way of thinking, but a “reality check” prompted their decision. Mike continued his cattle hauling business until health issues made him stop. He remained involved with the Western Video Market.
Mike is survived by his wife, Betty Morgan; sisters, Wanda Carlon and husband, Larry, Peggy Walls, and husband, Doug; Pat Tierney; and numerous nieces and nephews.
He was preceded in death by his parents, Frank Morgan and Burrte O’Neill, and brother, Jim Farrel.
A memorial service will be held Friday, Aug. 30, at the Burns Elks Lodge #1680 at 2 p.m.
Contributions in Mike Morgan’s memory may be made to the Harney County Senior and Community Services Center, or the Oregon Community Foundation, a scholarship fund being set up for Harney County graduates pursuing an education in an agricultural-related field. Any donations may be sent in care of LaFollette’s Chapel, PO Box 488, Burns, OR 97720. You can go online and sign the condolence book at www.lafolletteschapel.com.