Remembering Yvonne Morgan

I have been blessed with some amazing moms in my life, and Yvonne Morgan—my “BUCC Mom”—was one of them. BUCC stands for Bucknell University Conservatives Club, a group I stumbled into my freshman year of college.

Yvonne became the BUCC Mom because she invented the role and appointed herself—an unsurprising act if you knew her. She read in the local newspaper about this band of like-minded students when she was the chair of the Union County Republican Committee, and she was wise enough to sniff two things. One was a pool of free labor for the UCRC. The other was a bunch of college students who were dying for someone to dote on them, feed them, and let them invade her trademark purple house in downtown Lewisburg. It truly was a match made in heaven. She loved us and we loved her back.

Yvonne didn’t just know the power of a home-cooked meal or the free market; she also knew the power of relationships. She made two connections for which I can never thank her enough.

The first was between the BUCC and then-U.S. Congressman Pat Toomey, for whom she worked tirelessly during his U.S. Senate run against incumbent Sen. Arlen Specter, who was then still a Republican. The BUCC wanted to invite him to campus, but the administration invoked a policy (which it had scrupulously enforced against the BUCC) against allowing anyone who was running for office to speak on campus. This, despite the administration inviting presidential candidate Ralph Nader to give a paid commencement speech. There’s so much more to this story, but, suffice to say, thanks to Yvonne, the BUCC hosted an event with Pat Toomey that was a smashing success, drew national media attention, changed the Bucknell policy, and led to a greater diversity of ideas presented by guest speakers at the school.

The second introduction Yvonne made didn’t make national headlines, but it did change my life. I was invited to speak at the 2004 Pennsylvania Leadership Conference in Harrisburg. I badly wanted to meet Matt Brouillette—then the bold, brash, bald, bespectacled CEO of the Commonwealth Foundation, in which Yvonne was an investor. I asked Yvonne if she’d introduce me to this conservative hero of mine, and of course she said yes. She got Matt in her sights in the back of the ballroom, she made it happen as she always did, and the personal relationship that brought me to the Commonwealth Foundation team began.

Yvonne’s and my relationship didn’t end when I graduated college, nor did her relationship with the Commonwealth Foundation end after that ballroom handshake. A few more of her “BUCC kids” even joined the CF team as staff or interns. And so it’s a loss to me and to all of us, not just to her husband Jim and the people who really had the right to call her “Mom,” that Yvonne suddenly died last week. We can be comforted, however, that she who was rarely still, is truly at rest. I know that because the number-one topic she gushed to me about in recent years was her strong and strengthening relationship not with some politician she was helping—though there have been lots of those over the years—but with God. I know this gave her peace, it gives me the same in writing this, and I hope that in addition to the sadness, reading these tales of the extraordinary, irrepressible Yvonne Morgan made you smile a bit, because that’s exactly what my “BUCC Mom” would have wanted.