TORRINGTON – Esther Elizabeth (Beth) Morgan, 98, died in hospice care September 22, 2017. Beth’s death diminishes by one the number of people called the “Greatest Generation”—those who survived the Great Depression and World War II and left this world a better place.
Beth’s roots extend deep in southeastern Wyoming. Born in Torrington Feb. 9, 1919, Beth was the daughter of James William Ashburn and Lucy C. Watson Ashburn. The Watson grandparents homesteaded northeast of Torrington in Watson Valley; the Ashburn family farmed in the Torrington area. The Watson family built one of the original cabins on Guernsey Lake in the 1930s.
A relative remembered that Beth had a favorite tree on the road to Fort Laramie that she climbed as a child. Beth recalled that her grandmother could predict upcoming local weather by observing the amount of snow on distant Laramie Peak. Beth never missed a Broncos’ game and was a big fan of the University of Wyoming Cowboys.
When she was 12, Beth joined Torrington’s United Presbyterian Church, where, later, she sang in the choir. In 2006, she was honored for her 75-year membership.
In a Casper Star-Tribune interview, Beth said she played high school basketball for the Torrington Trailblazers between 1935 and 1937. She led Torrington in scoring when the team won two state championships, and helped win one of the championship games with a last-second, half-court shot. She was honored as a Wyoming All-State player.
Beth was completing her degree as a registered nurse at Denver’s St. Luke’s School of Nursing in 1942 when she met a handsome, young intern, Loran B. (Bud) Morgan, Pipestone, Minn. The couple married in January 1944 at Carlisle Barracks, Pa., at the time Bud was beginning U. S. Army service prior to going overseas as a paratrooper and battalion surgeon during World War II. Following the war, Bud and Beth lived in Gilman, Colo., where they, along with two St. Luke’s nurses, staffed the hospital. They lived in Torrington after Bud joined the practice of John B. Krahl, M.D.
Two children were born to the parents: Elizabeth Ann Morgan and Daniel Towner Morgan.
Beth was a long time member of P.E.O., and the American Legion Auxiliary. She was also a Cub Scout leader and loved to play golf. Bud and Beth were longtime supporters of Torrington’s Eastern Wyoming College. They enjoyed a winter home in Palm Desert, Calif.
Survivors include Beth Morgan Bowens, Lakewood, Colo., and Dan Morgan (Lynne), Freedom. Grandchildren are James Morgan Van Lanen, Anchorage, Alaska; Ryan Paul Van Lanen, Sapinero, Colo.; Lyndsey Kay Morgan Tabish (Tyler), Bozeman, Mont.; Zachery Towner Morgan, Missoula, Mont.; Mariah Danielle Morgan Keil (Tanner), Bozeman, Mont.; and great-grandchildren June Pamela Tabish, Ruby Kay Tabish, and Paxton Morgan Keil.
Beth was preceded in death by her parents, James William and Lucy Ashburn; husband, Dr. L. B. (Bud) Morgan; siblings, Margaret Ashburn Dunaway and James William Ashburn, Jr.; daughter-in-law, Pamela Kay Morgan; and son-in-law, Ron “Bo” Bowens.
Cremation has taken place and a Celebration of Beth’s Life will be held in the future. Memorials may be sent to the Western History Center’s Expanding Environments Youth Program, 2308 Highway 26, Lingle, WY 82223.