Richard E. Morgan, a distinguished professor of constitutional law at Bowdoin College, a noted author and Registered Maine Guide, died Thursday after a brief illness. He was 77.

Mr. Morgan, a 1959 Bowdoin graduate, joined the faculty at his alma matter in 1969 as an associate professor of government. He was named the William Nelson Cromwell Professor of Constitutional Law in 1975. Throughout his career, he taught numerous American government courses, though his specialty was constitutional law. He also served three terms as chairman of the Government Department.

At the time of his death, he had been an active member of the faculty for 45 years. His illness forced him to stop teaching at the end of September.

In a tribute posted on Bowdoin’s website, faculty and former students noted Mr. Morgan’s “gentlemanly demeanor, his wry sense of humor, the clarity of his reasoning, and the precision and accessibility of his writings.” It goes on to say he was an “old school” professor who didn’t use voice mail or email but was available to his students after class or during office hours at Bowdoin’s historic Hubbard Hall tower.

“A noted scholar of the Constitution, the First Amendment, and the Supreme Court, Dick was known on campus as a generous colleague and a dedicated teacher, who valued the quality of an intellectual argument, regardless of the political perspective from which it arose,” wrote Dean for Academic Affairs Cristle Collins Judd in a letter to the Bowdoin community.

Mr. Morgan wrote numerous books and scholarly articles throughout his career. Some of those include: “The Politics of Religious Conflict” (1968), “The Supreme Court and Religion” (1972) and “The Law and Politics of Civil Rights and Liberties” (1985). In recent years, he published numerous review essays in the Claremont Review of Books.


He was the husband of Jean Yarbrough, Bowdoin’s Gary M. Pendy Sr. Professor of Social Sciences. The couple were married in 1996. He also leaves two stepsons.

Mr. Morgan had a passion for the outdoors. He was a Registered Maine Guide for 20 years and enjoyed hunting grouse and woodcock. He also liked fishing the waters between The Forks and Jackman. The couple had a camp at Parlin Pond.

His wife said he was a dedicated fly-fisherman and had a fondness for the mountains.

“He loved ‘the enchanted country’ and he loved fishing and being on the water by himself, with friends, and with me trying to figure out why the trout wasn’t rising,” his wife said. “He was probably one of the most articulate and sensitive people I have ever known.”

His wife noted their love of bird watching. She said he hunted, studied and watched birds.

“In his early years, one of the things we loved to do was go out and look at our resident eagle, egret and blue herons,” Yarbrough said. “He knew birds, he loved birds and he taught me a lot about birds.”

At the end of September, doctors discovered he had metastatic lung cancer. The cancer had spread to his brain and bones.

“We knew we had a short amount of time. We thought we had six months. He died in six weeks,” his wife said. “It was a life very well-lived. It was a mercy that it was so fast.”


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