Fred B. Morgan Jr., the decorated World War II veteran who parachuted into Normandy on D-Day and long-serving Edgartown selectman, died on April 7 at the Martha’s Vineyard Hospital. He was 97 and was widely regarded as Martha’s Vineyard’s senior statesman.

Services are planned for Monday at 11 a.m. at the Old Whaling Church. Interment will follow in the New Westide Cemetery with full military honors by the Veterans of Martha’s Vineyard.

A son of Edgartown, Ted Morgan, as he was known, fought in six campaigns in World War II and later became a prominent town father, serving as a selectman for nearly 31 years until his retirement in 2002.

As a selectman, Mr. Morgan was known for his steady hand on the tiller and also for being unafraid to take a stand when it was called for. He presided over numerous threshold moments for the town, including the strategic purchase of South Beach and the Katama Airfield in the 1980s. And he was a selectman in the 1990s when the town successfully defended a challenge to three-acre zoning during a controversial development plan for Herring Creek Farm. The case went all the way to the state Supreme Judicial Court.

Fred B. Morgan Jr. was born in Edgartown on Sept. 12, 1921, a few blocks from Main street, the son of Capt. Fred Baxter Morgan and Doris Taylor Morgan. His siblings were Robert and Jean. They lived in a modest house on School street. The Morgans were a seafaring family, and the senior Mr. Morgan, who was known as Captain Ted, skippered a number of vessels, including the schooner Eliza A. Benner.

Doris Morgan died in 1937 at the age of 38. Young Ted was 18.

He joined the Army at age 19, straight out of high school.

“I had no plans for the future when I got out of high school,” he told Island historian Linsey Lee in an interview. “The idea of being a fisherman had no appeal for me. I left the Island to spend time with my uncle and aunt, who lived in Shrewsbury. That was where I met Floss, my wife. I knew her only briefly before I entered the army.”

Ted and Floss married in 1945.

Mr. Morgan went on to a distinguished military career that included more than one tour of duty in active combat. He served as a medic and paratrooper in the 82nd Airborne Division. He jumped from military planes 25 times onto European soil during World War II, and earned a Bronze Star and the Purple Heart for courageous service. He endured a harrowing 33 days of combat in France following a jump into enemy territory during the initial phase of the Normandy invasion in 1944.

In 1949, he was called back to duty, this time serving in the U.S. Air Force, where he spent the next two decades as an administrator of military hospitals across the country. He achieved the rank of lieutenant colonel upon retirement.

Mr. Morgan did not speak publicly about his war experiences for half a century. In 1994 on the 50th anniversary of D-Day, he was moved to break his silence. Rather than return to Normandy for the many high-profile media events, he decided instead to stay on the Vineyard and share his stories with Vineyard schoolchildren.

“This is my contribution,” he told the Gazette in an interview that year. “I never felt, up until now, that they would understand the situation and the killing, and the action in general. I’ve never discussed it with my kids up until now. I’ve never really discussed it with anybody except the people I served with. All of a sudden I feel it’s so important that they should know these things.”

He told his story before a classroom at the West Tisbury School. The students were spellbound.

Ted, Floss and their six children returned to the Island in the late 1960s when he took a job as administrator at the Martha’s Vineyard Hospital. He stayed in the post only for a few years, but he rejoined the hospital leadership in the late 1990s as a member of the board of trustees.

He was elected to his first term as selectman in 1972, unseating incumbent Jean Hathaway in a race that saw record voter turnout — 899 voters out of 1,173.

In politics he was well known for his conservative views. A staunch Republican, he frequently railed against the Beacon Hill Democrats who irked him.

His brother Robert was a politician too, but Bob was a Democrat who served as the Vineyard legislative liaison, among other things.

When Bob ran for county commission in 1990 and Ted was seen out campaigning for him, the Gazette took note. “Brothers Robert and Ted Morgan frequently find themselves on the opposite end of the political spectrum,” the paper reported in its Things Insular column. “But Monday afternoon, Ted could be found standing beside the American Legion Hall, Vineyard Haven, campaigning for Democrat Bob. Obviously, blood runs thicker than political parties.”

In 1999 Ted and Bob Morgan relived childhood memories when the keelson of the Eliza Benner was recovered from waters off Chappaquiddick. Their father (who died in 1949 at the Marine Hospital in Vineyard Haven) had skippered the 60-foot schooner. Sometime in the 1920s the Eliza Benner went aground and sank in a storm.

Sitting on the keelson, Bob and Ted posed for a picture.

Bob Morgan died in 2008.

Ted stepped down as a selectman 2002 before the end of his 10th term. There was no fanfare; it was not Mr. Morgan’s style. He was 81.

“I’ve been thinking about it for some time. It’s time for me to step down,” he said simply. “I’m proud of this town and proud to have served it for nearly 31 years.”

In a role that endeared him to Islanders of all ages, he led the Edgartown Fourth of July parade as its grand marshal for 43 years, stepping down in 2012. Advancing age had made it difficult for him walk the entire route but Mr. Morgan remained a parade fixture, traveling in a golf cart in what has been called one of the best small-town parades in America.

One of his favorite pastimes was golf; he was a longtime member of the Edgartown Golf Club and served as club president for many years.

The selectmen’s room in the Edgartown town hall is named for him.

Flags flew at half mast in Edgartown all week. The town selectmen issued the following statement:

“The board of selectmen of Edgartown acknowledge with great sadness the passing of Ted Morgan. Ted was a colleague, mentor, and friend to each of us. His wisdom was always touched with humor, and a deep concern for his fellow citizens. We will miss his physical presence but we will be forever imbued with his spirit. The many lessons we learned from him as colleagues reverberate through our own tenures as selectmen. Ted served the town of Edgartown as a selectman for thirty years with the same passion and distinction he served his country. Edgartown is a better town because of him and we are better citizens following the many examples set by Ted. Rest in peace dear friend.”

He is survived by his wife Florence Lambert Morgan, whom he always credited for his successes, and a large extended family that includes children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren living on and off the Island.

Donations can be made to the Martha’s Vineyard Boys and Girls Club, P.O. Box 654, Edgartown, MA 02539. Arrangements are under the care of the Chapman, Cole and Gleason Funeral Home in Oak Bluffs. Visit for online guest book and information.