Patch Spends Five Minutes with Ginger Morgan
Ginger Morgan's indomitable spirit has been a source of inspiration to families going through some of their most difficult times and a force on many Oak Lawn civic organizations.
She’s Virginia “Ginger” Morgan, long-time resident and proponent of everything Oak Lawn. Morgan has worked as Bob Kuenster's right hand at the Thompson and Kuenster Funeral Home for 25 years and now promotes the business with style and flare as a member of the Oak Lawn and Evergreen Park Chambers of Commerce. She has a passion for travel and is currently experiencing the journey of a lifetime with her husband of 55 years, Donald. She is the mother of two, grandmother of four, and friend of many.
Oak Lawn Patch: After being married for so long, what would you say is the secret to a happy marriage?
Morgan: My husband would tell you the secret is that he always gets the last word in and its “Yes, dear.” You know, it’s hard to say. We’re just compatible and we respect each other and we give each other space. He has always been very unselfish and lets me do what I feel I need to do.
Oak Lawn Patch: You have called Oak Lawn your home for a very long time. How many years have you lived here?
Morgan: It will be 41 years this year.
Oak Lawn Patch: What do you feel are some of the more significant changes the town has undergone?
Morgan: Everything has modernized more. We have more retail, more education. The library has grown and the public services have grown as well.
Oak Lawn Patch: How long have you worked at Thompson and Kuenster?
Morgan: 25 years.
Oak Lawn Patch: What is your job at the funeral home?
Morgan: I started out as an administrative assistant. Now, I would consider myself Bob’s ambassador. I promote the business and help spread the word for him by involving myself in so many different activities. My job includes all of the meetings that I go to so the hours are erratic, but if ever Bob needs me to come into the office to fill in for his secretary or to help out, I am on a 24 hours notice.
Oak Lawn Patch: Do you ever find your job sad or depressing?
Morgan: Being in the funeral industry, we are really helping families during a difficult time. It can be depressing but it gives us great satisfaction to know that we can help a family during one of the most difficult times. It is very satisfying. We treat the family as our own and we are very respectful. There have been many times that Bob has taken care of our own family so we know what Bob is going through and what families go through.
Oak Lawn Patch: You have obviously known Bob for a very long time. How would you describe your relationship with him?
Morgan: I have known Bob for about 30 years. We do have a unique relationship. Bob is a great friend to my husband and me. He has provided a place for my husband and me to work and to be close to his family. The phrase “extended family” would be a fair description.
Oak Lawn Patch: You are very active in and around Oak Lawn. What other organizations are you involved with outside of the funeral home?
Morgan: I have been the appointed senior commissioner in the third district for six years and I am very active at the Senior Center. The commissioners meet once a month to try and decide what is best for the seniors—what we need and how to help get what we need. We try to think of programs that will entertain the seniors and keep them occupied and healthy. It is a great program. I am on the board of directors for the Oak Lawn and Evergreen Chambers of Commerce and I am the president of the Italian American Women’s Club of Chicagoland.
Oak Lawn Patch: What type of organization is the Italian American Women’s Club? What is its purpose?
Morgan: We try to keep our heritage alive. We meet at St. Bernadette’s in Evergreen Park and Sister Mary Ventura is our moderator. We have written two books, one about Italian-American women, and an Italian cookbook. By selling those books we have been able to give out over ten thousand dollars in scholarship money to college students. That is our mission—to keep the Italian-American families moving, to help educate them, and to help them remember their roots and ancestry.
Oak Lawn Patch: How do you like to spend your “Ginger” time?
Morgan: Believe it or not cooking is one of my favorite things to do. I love trying out new recipes and using my mother’s old recipes. I also love photography. But traveling is probably the most enjoyable thing I love to do.
Oak Lawn Patch: As an Italian-American cook, what are some of your favorite Italian dishes to make?
Morgan: I love to cook the pastas. That would be the most important part of our lives—pasta. I love to bake Italian pastries and breads. Italian cookies and biscotti are some of my favorite cookies. And I love cannoli and tiramisu.
Oak Lawn Patch: Do you ever watch cooking shows for inspiration?
Morgan: Oh yes. I absolutely love Rachel Ray and Lydia Bastianich. She is just divine.
Oak Lawn Patch: You mentioned that you and your husband love to travel throughout the United States. If you could live in any state besides Illinois, which one would it be?
Morgan: We would live in the west. We love Arizona, not just for the warmth but for its beauty. We have seen most of Florida because our daughter lives there, but I don’t know if I would want to live in Florida, I would rather live out west.
Oak Lawn Patch: What is something that people would be surprised to learn about you?
Morgan: Most people do not realize that I was an only child, and one of the saddest things in my life is that I did not have any siblings to grow up with. Growing up was not too difficult but being an adult without siblings is lonely. We always stressed to our daughters to love each other no matter what because family is very important.