‘Devastated’ friends mourn Mississippi man killed in plane crash

Published 7:00 am Saturday, May 20, 2023

When Oxford businessman and former senator Johnny Morgan died Wednesday in an Arkansas plane crash, his friends’ grief poured out online. Some discussed their relationships with Morgan, while others talked about his service to the state.

And many mentioned both.

Gov. Tate Reeves said on Twitter he and first lady Elee Reeves were “devastated” by the news of Morgan’s death.

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“Johnny Morgan was perhaps the most fiercely loyal person I ever met. If he was with you….. He was WITH you! He loved Ole Miss, MS politics – and life!”

Lt. Gov. Delbert Hosemann posted on Facebook he had visited Morgan on the day before the deadly plane crash.

“Yesterday evening, my friend Johnny Morgan and I visited in Oxford. Today, he is the victim of a tragic accident. Our State and Johnny’s legions of friends have lost laughter, a warm smile, a brilliant businessman, and a community and political leader. So very sad.”

Sen. Roger Wicker expressed his own grief: “Mississippi has lost a larger-than-life citizen and public servant, and I have lost a life-long friend. Johnny Morgan left his mark and leaves a void. A sad day.”

“I am crushed to hear about my old client Johnny Morgan today,” said political adviser Howie Morgan. “Politician, entrepreneur, and living the coolest life of anyone I have ever met, he died in a plane crash outside Fayetteville, Arkansas today. Loved Ole Miss and his native Oxford. Successful businessman in everything he did. Supervisor, State Senator, and host of the Good Ole Boys and Gals – the largest political gathering in North Mississippi every year. He is an absolute legend. RIP my friend. …and thanks for being ‘Uncle Johnny’ that one time on Highway 7 north of Oxford that got me out of that ticket with the Mississippi Highway Patrol.”

AccelerateMS deputy director Garrett McInnis said that “[o]ne of (his) most memorable intros top politics was Morgan’s Good Ole Boys event. Talk about walking into an overdose of old-tyme, southern retail politics at its core.”

Hayes Dent said that he was “[d]evastated on the news of Johnny Morgan’s plane crash this afternoon…former Ole Miss cheerleader, state Senator, super successful entrepreneur but most importantly Chip’s brother and a great guy! Johnny left it all on the field…we’ll miss you greatly Johnny- RIP!!”

State Sen. Daniel Sparks, R-Belmont, revealed that he “had the opportunity to spend about 20 minutes with Johnny last night and be regaled with one more set of stories from a legend. Prayers of comfort for his family, Johnny Morgan, you will be sorely missed.”

“Like so many this evening, I am heartbroken that Mississippi has lost a great friend, statesman, and public servant – Johnny Morgan. My prayers and deepest sympathies to his family and friends,” added State Attorney General Lyn Fitch.

“Johnny Morgan was an innovator, great businessman, and a friend. When you were with him, he made you feel like you were his best friend and he infected everyone he met with his laughter and joy. RIP my friend,” said former governor Phil Bryant.

A website called Flight Tracker showed that Morgan flew out of the Oxford-University Airport in a Beechcraft King Air 90 at 11:27 a.m. on Wednesday. KNWA-TV reported that the Washington County Sheriff’s Office got a call around 12:30 p.m. from someone reporting the sound of an airplane sputtering and then crashing.

Morgan lost radio contact just after 12:34 p.m. after calling and reporting he heard a sputtering sound. Emergency management crew members searched the remote site plane with Blackhawk helicopters that happened to be on a training exercise at the time. It took several hours to locate the plane crash site.    Morgan, 76, piloting a gold and white twin-engine Beech King Air E-90, went down south of his destination of Fayetteville, Ark., the Washington County Arkansas Sheriff’s Office told media outlets.

Wreckage found just before 4 p.m. showed Morgan was the only one aboard and suffered fatal injuries.  The plane had crashed in the Brentwood Mountain area between Brentwood and Winslow in Washington County, Arkansas.

Morgan was an Ole Miss alum and remained a supporter of the school. Nic Lott, the first black student body president at the school, tweeted that he “first met Johnny when I was a student at Ole Miss. We quickly bonded over our shared love of the university and politics. He was also a dedicated public servant. He served as a supervisor, state senator, and host of the Good Ole Boys & Gals, a bipartisan political gathering of friends, candidates, and political enthusiasts from across Mississippi. I’ll miss ole Johnny. Rest in peace my friend.”

As well as serving two terms as a state senator from 1983 to 1991, Morgan cofounded the Oxford-based insurance company, Morgan White Insurance, with David White in 1987. Morgan served on the North Mississippi Industrial Development Association and was involved with the Mississippi Board of Economic Development. He was also a Lafayette County supervisor for eight years, beginning in 2003.