Obituaries » Margaret Ward Morland
Margaret Ward Morland, beloved mother, grandmother, and great-grandmother, poet and teacher, passed away September 8, 2022. Born on April 28, 1923 in Birmingham, Alabama, she graduated with highest honors from Samford University, pursued graduate studies at Northwestern University, and received an MA in English from the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. While she made her home in Lynchburg, Virginia, she saw much of the world with her sociologist/anthropologist husband, traveling extensively in Europe and Asia and living in Hong Kong and Taiwan.
Margaret Morland served as Poet Laureate of Virginia from 1996 to 1998. Her poems have appeared in numerous periodicals and anthologies, and they were gathered into two published volumes, It Happens Thus (1983) and Gift of Jade (1998). More than sixty of her poems were set to music by Henry Hallstrom of Lynchburg and other composers and have been performed by choirs from Bruton Parish Church in Williamsburg, to the quadricentennial celebration of Jamestown, to the University of Alaska in Fairbanks. Her poems inspired visual artists, being paired with paintings at exhibitions in Lynchburg and New York, and have also been reimagined through dance.
Morland’s poetry received numerous awards, including recognition by the National League of American Pen Women, the Arts Award of the Academy of Women, Cecil Hackney Award from Birmingham-Southern College, Conrad Aiken Prize from the Poetry Society of Georgia, National Lutheran Hymn Prize, The Nancy Byrd Turner Prize from The Poetry Society of Virginia, and Distinguished Alumna Award of Samford University. Two of her poems were selected by the Virginia Metrorail Public Arts Program and are etched into the work of a leading architectural glass artist’s rendering at the McLean, Virginia metro station. She shared her love of poetry with others, giving numerous readings and workshops for children and adults, both in this country and abroad, and as a teacher of English literature and creative writing at Samford and Lynchburg University. Lynchburg’s YMCA named her in 1986 an Academy of Women ARTS honoree.
Morland and family were an integral part of the Randolph-Macon Woman’s College community for many decades after her husband joined the faculty in 1953. In addition, she held leadership roles in such groups as the League of Women Voters, the Women’s Club, and the Poetry Society of Virginia. She also was appointed by the Virginia General Assembly to the state’s original study committee to review entries for a new Virginia state song.
Margaret Morland had many gifts: She had the gift of wonder, immersing herself in the beauties and mysteries of the world. The gift of adventure, diving into life in York, South Carolina; a cabin in the mountains of New York (part of NYU and where she and her husband were badminton champions!); Hong Kong in the 1960s; treks through Poland in the 1960s and ’70s; and gatherings in China and Japan in the 1980s and ‘90s. She had the gift of heart: She loved her family fiercely, providing unconditional support for all her children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren to shine and fully develop into who they truly are. And she had the gift of words, through which she transformed her keen sensitivity to the world, both near and far, into poetry that spoke to so many.
She was predeceased by her husband of more than fifty years J. Kenneth Morland, and by her son-in-law Michael Meserve of Arlington, Virginia. She will be greatly missed by her daughters Carol Morland, Kathy Morland Hammitt (Harry) and Lyn Morland (Mark Preslan), by her grandchildren Kelsey Hammitt (Greg Brochon), Kenneth Hammitt, Anna Meserve Fraser (Kevin) and Leah Meserve, by her great-grandchildren Lily Brochon and Max Brochon, by her many Ward and Morland relatives, and by all the friends whose lives she touched.
The family expresses its deep gratitude to the staff of Westminster Canterbury, who provided loving and expert care. A memorial service will be held at a later date. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to Peakland Baptist Church of Lynchburg or the Poetry Society of Virginia.
Tharp Funeral Home & Crematory is assisting the family.
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