Morgan Laimbeer (B 50-55), Old Bradfieldian and former Housemaster and teacher (SCR 68-90), sadly passed away on 14 December. His obituary below has kindly been written by his daughter Carolyn.
George was born on 25 November 1936 in Columbus, Ohio. Since George was his father’s name, he was always known as Morgan. His parents, George and Doris, later moved to Solihull in England to manage food distribution for US troops based in England. Their two sons, William and Morgan, were sent to school at Bradfield College and both excelled in sports; Morgan was a keen boxer and cricketer.
After his parents returned to the United States, Morgan began studying at Byam Shaw School of Fine Arts and, upon graduation, he married Jennifer Harries in July 1959 in Knightsbridge, London. Morgan then took up positions as Art teacher at Frensham Ponds and later Milton Abbey in Dorset.
In 1964 Morgan returned to Bradfield to join the Art Department. He also initiated and trained a gymnastics team which was, at the time, highly regarded on the schools circuit. Morgan himself was a formidable gymnast on the rings and pommel horse.
As a keen sailor he helped to rebuild the College Sailing Club with colleagues David Moss-Gibbons and Crispin Read Wilson. After persuading the Bursar to buy an old RAF transport bus, the teams were able to travel further afield and compete in open meetings and national championships in places such as Torquay and Chew Valley Lake. In order to do this he stripped out the seats of the bus and persuaded the Bursar’s staff to build a wooden framework on which he could load four racing dinghies. Not surprisingly, Morgan left a lasting legacy of enthusiastic Old Bradfieldian sailors around the globe.
In 1975 Morgan became Housemaster of Hillside (F House). As most of his old boys will confirm he was a quirky, unconventional, inspiring, unpredictable and much loved ‘maverick’.
Colleague Colin Burgess said: “In my opinion every school should have a Morgan but, in my 46 years of dealing with numerous other schools on the circuit, it became clear that only Bradfield was privileged to have one.”
Summer holidays were spent sailing the South coast of England and Brittany with his family, often bringing back hair-raising tales of mooring and docking in full sail without a working engine! Although he always remained a US citizen, in his sailing capacity he was allowed to become a British Naval Officer which allowed him to dine in the Officer’s Mess when the family holidays moored in Dartmouth!
As a keen player, supporter and spectator of rugby he was an original member and later Chairman of the Drones Rugby club in nearby Upper Basildon. He was also an enthusiastic, weekly squash and fives player.
In 1990 he retired from Bradfield and moved to Southern Florida where he was able to pursue his love of sailing, racing his 34-foot Gulf Finn boat both locally and also further afield. Morgan refused to have a toilet or any unnecessary below-deck fittings on his boat to ensure optimum weight while racing, much to the inconvenience of his crew!
In 2000, Key West gave special dispensation for a group of US sailors from Florida to compete in the Havana Sailing Regatta in Cuba, deemed a humanitarian mission carrying basic medical supplies for local people, providing they did not step on land but moored offshore. After a week racing in Cuban waters they returned home, only to have all their sailing charts, maps and camera films seized by the US government.
In recent years, he lived in Yankeetown, Florida with his dog Moxie, and spent evenings at his local watering hole beguiling the locals with adventurous tales of his sailing and life in England. He had a profound effect on many people’s lives – pupils, colleagues and friends – and taught everyone he met his recipe for how to enjoy life to its fullest.
He is preceded in death by his parents, brother William and son Mark. He leaves behind daughters, Carolyn and Samantha, three grandchildren and one great granddaughter.