ForeverMissed
Tributes
Posted by michael kavanaugh on December 12, 2020
Jim Morgan was a mensch in the truest sense of the word. I first met Jim in 1971 at an International Water Association meeting in San Francisco. The last time I saw Jim was over coffee at a Peet’s Coffee House in Pasadena with Rhodes Trussell in the fall of 2019. During the intervening 48 years, I had the opportunity to interact with Jim in many settings, but most fondly on the basketball court in Switzerland, Toronto, the Morgan driveway, the Cal Tech gym, El Cerrito High School, and at least one Gordon Conference. Jim had the sweetest jump shot and was a fierce competitor – a New York characteristic that he shared with Charlie O’Melia. My most memorable times occurred in Switzerland at the EAWAG between 1972 and 1976 where Jim shared his many insights on topics of mutual interest in environmental engineering and science, world affairs, food, and poetry. As a struggling recent PhD, trying to establish a research program and learning German, I was and am forever grateful for Jim’s encouragement, humor and support. Over the years, Jim continued to provide thoughtful insights as I faced various career decisions having chosen the path of being a consulting engineer rather than follow an academic path. I regularly made pilgrimages to Pasadena for a lunch or dinner opportunity to share thoughts with Jim, always insightful and encouraging. His engineering training made him appreciative of the challenge in translating aquatic chemical theories into practical applications in a complex transient environment where equilibrium is rarely seen. He would occasionally send a postcard from afar conveying his search for meaning through his favorite poets, Ezra Pound, Frank O’Hara, Seamus Heaney. His humor, humility and human insights made him a true mentor and a good listener, a rare combination amongst famous scientists and engineers. On my 50th birthday, his card from Zurich read “Meditation on the Five Oh: not prime, but you are in your prime, jumpers arching beautifully through crisp space, disciplines coming clearer in their arc, your mind in prime time. Sail on, young un” Made my day for sure. Jim will always be remembered for his intellect, his humor, the breadth of his interests, his willingness to take professional risks and do public service, his dedication to his family and his jump shot. I miss him fiercely especially in this time of such uncertainty and transitions. I so look forward to the day when we can all meet again and celebrate a life well lived. It is inspiring now to read the many tributes to him from his students, colleagues and friends. Mike Kavanaugh December 12, 2020.
Posted by Roger Bales on December 7, 2020
In my years at Caltech I remember great conversations where Jim's intuition was invaluable, and appreciated his willingness to step outside his research comfort zone to guide my work there to a successful conclusion. Over the years since then his kind words and encouragement as my own work strayed further from water chemistry were important.

Jim was also VP for Student Affairs during my time at Caltech, and I admired his dedication to serving students in that way. Still, he was always there when I needed advice on my latest lab results or ideas for what next. I also thank fellow student Alan Stone for keeping in regular touch with Jim over the years, and Jim appreciated that. Alan, who helped me learn enough lab-based environmental chemistry to do careful experiments during our time together at Caltech, helped me and other former Morgan students keep up with Jim as time passed.

My periodic visits to Caltech over the past 36 years were too few and far apart, yet they will stick with me as times to reflect. Reminiscent of in student days, a 30-min conversation with Jim was all I needed to see a challenge in a new light.
Posted by Janet Hering on November 29, 2020
When I joined François Morel’s research group at MIT, I didn’t realize that I was joining the premier academic family in environmental science and engineering. François was my link to Jim Morgan’s academic family. 

I first met Jim at the Gordon Research Conference “Environmental Sciences: Water” in New Hampshire, which served every second year as the venue for an academic family reunion.  For me, this conference encapsulates Jim’s enthusiasm for science, basketball, and friendship as well as his enormous generosity toward his junior colleagues. 

Later, I enjoyed similar interactions with Jim in Switzerland, where he frequently visited my postdoctoral advisor, Werner Stumm. Over the following years, I was privileged to work at Caltech as Jim’s colleague on the faculty. I will always remember Jim’s friendship, professional support and mentorship with gratitude. In the words of Jim’s favorite author, “muchibus thankibus”.
Posted by Thomas Lloyd on October 22, 2020
Jim will always be a mentor to me; a greatly missed friend; a kind and deep person, filled with music, poetry and a love of people (especially his people). He was a "water god" before I met him, and when I visited Caltech first, sat in on Aquatic Chemistry, I knew who I wanted to work with. He has a way of crystallizing immensely complex things into their true essence - whether humanity, a jump shot (or place shot later in life), or the myriad chemistry of that elusive metal MN. A truly great teacher, an even better mentor, and someone whom I will continue to learn from and love.
Posted by Terri Mink on October 21, 2020
My beloved Uncle Jim, who by the way just preferred “Jim”, was a kind and humorous man, I fondly remember all his visits to our home in NY . He probably only came once a year but each visit was always looked forward to with such excitement, as a child he always would bring us candy , he was a photographer so most often it was us in the photos. I can look through the photo albums and can easily find them, he always sent letters to my mother and we loved the challenge of deciphering his unique handwriting, he filled us in always on his family as it grew and included photos, which is why I feel like I know them all, living 3,000 mikes apart we never shared growing up with our cousins. It’s been over 10 years since his last visit, which he told us it would be, I’m glad there were some phone chats since. I will always hold him close to my heart and smile when I look at his face. Love you Uncle Jim XO
Posted by Sebastian Kopf on October 21, 2020
I first met Jim when I transferred to Caltech in 2010 after following Dianne Newman in her cross-country move back to Caltech. I was working on the chemistry of iron and nitrite at the time and Dianne suggested I must absolutely meet Jim Morgan to discuss my findings. I was a second year PhD student and was absolutely terrified. I had grown up without knowing any real life scientists and was greatly intimidated by all the luminaries walking the halls of Caltech. And Jim was about as famous a scientist to me as I could imagine. Stumm & Morgan’s book on Aquatic Chemistry is not called the "Bible of Aquatic Chemistry" for nothing. To my initial surprise, Jim agreed to lunch at the Atheneum and I gathered my courage to meet him. I was shocked to find one of the most kind, generous and funny people I have ever met with a profound interest in my work and ideas (and plenty of other topics from music to literature). Fortunately for me, this first meeting at the Ath was only the first of many lunches to come during my time at Caltech. I will miss walking up to his table at the Ath or the Broad cafe and finding him working on a set of equations for the chemical speciation of Manganese or some other complicated aqueous system - on his napkin. Sitting hunched over his computer fiddling with ChemEQL and other speciation and redox chemistry programs. Jim’s encyclopedic knowledge of the literature. His fondness of and patience in explaining strange American idioms to me. HIs joy at the silly German equivalents and translations of these idioms. I will miss his humanity, kindness and immense generosity of spirit. And his mischievous smile and the genuine joy in his eyes when his explanations helped me understand a new concept. I am forever honored that Jim attended my PhD defense (and asked a great question about iron chemistry!) as well as my graduation at Caltech. But most of all I am grateful for his mentorship and friendship which have inspired me in many aspect of my life, have shaped how I teach and mentor my own students, and has helped me overcome my fear of approaching famous scientists. I would not be where I am today without Jim.
Posted by François Morel on October 13, 2020
I met Jim shortly after my arrival in the US and at Caltech in August 1967 and took his Aquatic Chemistry course in the fall. We soon started on a project to solve chemical equilibrium problems by computer. (The brand new IBM 360-75 at the Booth computing center had thousands of time less memory and speed than a cell phone today.) This involved many hours of discussion in Jim’s office in the basement of Keck and evolved into a friendship that went beyond work and science. We had long talks on all sorts of topics from pop music and sports to literature and religion. (We both had been educated by Catholic priests, though in different countries). I really enjoyed Jim’s sharp, sometimes cutting wit. Some days our discussions continued late in the evening at the Athenaeum bar. We started playing basketball on Fridays on the outside court next to the Caltech pool; Jim had a sweet jump shot; I was terrible but the game became more competitive as better players joined in. The evening usually concluded with Mexican dinner on Colorado boulevard. I often visited Jim, Jean and their growing family in their rambling house in Altadena. When I graduated and didn’t know what to do, Jim was the one who suggested I apply to a position at MIT.
We stayed in touch through the years --phone calls (often from me taking advantage of Jim’s unbelievable memory on all topics); scientific meetings (including several organized in Switzerland by Werner Stumm, Jim’s Harvard advisor); visits to the west and east coast, even to France; and eventually email, of course—but not enough…
Somehow Jim’s mind and mine seem to complement each other nearly perfectly in a way I can’t really explain. The best I can do is use the famous words of Phillipe de Montaigne explaining his friendship with Etienne de La Boétie after his death in 1563: “Parce que c’était lui; parce que c’était moi.” I miss him.
François Morel, Princeton October 2020
Posted by George Jackson on October 8, 2020
Jim Morgan was my friend and my mentor. 

When I joined the EES department, my advisor was Wheeler North, a marine biologist who worked out of a marine lab in Corona del Mar but came up to Pasadena once a week. As a graduate student, I needed to be in Pasadena to take required courses. The person who was always accessible to students there and then was Jim. It did not hurt his relations with students was that he had a passion for basketball that extended to introducing graduate students to the game. The result was a standing Friday afternoon game that moved over to the Athenaeum bar for drinks and then to a Mexican restaurant for dinner. This was the catalyst for many long-lasting friendships, particularly with Jim.

Some of these friendships developed into intellectual partnerships with people who were not his students, such as with François Morel and me, as he expanded our intellectual horizons. We became friends with his friends, including Charlie O’Melia and Werner Stumm.

My friendship with Jim and his family expanded and lasted through the years, as I stayed in the garage apartment behind the Morgan household and visited him Zurich while he was on sabbatical. Thank you Jim. 

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