Holly Morgan Frye: Service is the family creed
There isn’t a person over the age of fifteen who doesn’t remember where they were on September 11, 2001, the sunny Tuesday that had begun full of promise. The sky was a brilliant blue and the air never more refreshing. It started as a great day, especially for Holly Frye. She had an interview that afternoon for the part-time position as Director of Community Services. At the time, she was the Director of Alumnae Affairs and that was a full-time position. Holly had just found out she was expecting her second child and wanted to go part-time. This opportunity had perfect timing.
Then the worst happened. “I remember thinking how am I going to sit through an interview? No one knew what was happening. Everyone was scared.” Holly said as we sat in her Student Center office remembering the insanity and horror of that day. She continued “I began thinking that out of this chaos and fear I might be given this opportunity to work with our future. A young, engaged and vibrant population who wanted to make a difference in the world.”
Holly Ann Morgan Frye is a hometown girl. She was born in Jefferson Memorial Hospital the youngest of four and only girl of MaryAnn and D. Lee Morgan. The Morgan’s are what’s best about Shepherdstown. And Holly Morgan Frye with a smile and laughter that light up any room, wears her lineage as a badge of honor.
Long before I met Holly, I was in the audience at a Christmas organ recital and witnessed the spectacular talent of her mother, MaryAnn. My early introduction to town lore included stories about Lee Morgan, Shepherdstown Fire Chief (until he died in 2000) and his dedicated leadership over the department’s good works and brave volunteers, a passion he passed on to his son, Ross.
Remembering her Dad, and the middle of the night emergency calls to duty, Holly recalled a story her father had told her many times. “One night in 1939, my parents and brother (Ed) and I were driving a back road in Shepherdstown when they saw fire in the direction of their farm, their home. We drove to find a huge fire consuming our barn. I was only 8 but I remember sitting in the car, parked along the dirt and gravel road. Little did I know the future.” Holly believes it was at that moment in time her Dad decided he wanted to do what he was watching Shepherdstown’s volunteer squad do. He was going to save homes and lives. He was going to be a fireman.
Lee Morgan lived on the 70 acre Morgan family farm out route 480 all his life and when he met and married the lovely MaryAnn White, a Charles Town girl, he brought her home to Shepherdstown. There they raised three sons: D.L, Jr, Francis, Ross and their daughter and it’s where the family still lives. They also started their own construction company. Today there are four more homes on the property. Three of the mailboxes say Morgan, the old farm house mailbox says Frye.
“One of the most proud things I tell people is that I have three big brothers.” said Holly “They helped to define who I am, they helped raise me (although we are polar opposites on just about every political issue), and they have always made me feel invincible because no matter what, all I ever had to do was yell and they were there. This is the way our parents raised us.”
Holly bought the farm house from her parents, who had built a new home on the “compound” and happily lives there with the “love of my life,” James Frye and their boys, Trey and Donovan. And where James’ grown son Jason and his family are frequent visitors. Holly is unabashedly happy “I’m married to a guy who made me a chocolate souffl’ for Valentines Day.”
Little Holly Morgan attended Shepherdstown Elementary school through the 4th grade and then went to Heritage Academy in Williamsport, Maryland. Upon graduation she went off to Western Maryland College in Westminster, where she earned a BA in communications & criminal justice. “I graduated without a job and my parents weren’t about to let me laze around all summer. It was 1987 and jobs were scarce but they were serious.” She continued “My parents taught me about a strong work ethic. With the construction company right next door and the fire house about a mile away my dad worked twenty-four seven. My mother” who Holly calls “the most amazing woman she’s every known “did it all. “
“My parent’s attitude about work and life was if someone needed you, you were there. When your father is the Fire Chief this can be your life. Dad got called out all the time, in the middle of the night, on Christmas. We grew up thinking that’s what you did. You helped. Dad was incredible.”
Mary Ann and Lee gave Holly one month to rest up and enjoy being a college grad and then get to work. “I walked into the Specialty Binding & Printing on South Princess St. to have my resume printed up and they needed an office administrator and hired me on the spot. That was my first job.”
“Then I was offered a part-time office manager position with the Millbrook Orchestra. The Millbrook offices were located in the Entler Hotel. I loved that job because I got to work with Dr. Guy Frank, Dr. James Pantle, Dr. Jerry Zimmerman, Bucky Morrow and the late Henry Morrow, all founding fathers of the orchestra. Betty Lou and Bob Bryant were absolutely wonderful to me. Betty Lou gave me a framed Serenity Prayer with a volcano erupting behind it and that picture has sat on the desk in every office I’ve had since. ” Remembering she laughed, “Bob taught Donavan to count using billiard balls.”
Years before, the Entler Hotel was going to be raised and the people of Shepherdstown rose up in protest and raised funds to buy it. “When they raffled off a light blue Plymouth Horizon and my Dad won it, the whole town told him he had to give it to me because I had just turned sixteen.” Holly happily recalled.” The end of the story The Entler was saved and Holly got her first car.”
Holly left Millbrook after five years. She wanted full-time employment and the next few years gave her a wide range of experience in advertising, politics, and sales. “I really didn’t know what I really wanted to do until I met David Borchard. David was a career counselor and he had me “picture it.” Picture where I wanted to be. The picture that came into focus was “this office” I didn’t know where it would be but I knew I wanted to be in a job and help people. I wanted to make a difference.”
That picture became reality at Shepherd University in 1998.
As director of Student Community Services and Service Learning, Holly Morgan Frye is certainly making a difference. Her busy office is full of photos of smiling students and unbelievable projects. A prime example is the 2007 sweet potato drop when a 14 wheeler turned down King Street at 6:45 one morning and dropped forty thousand pounds of sweet potatoes. In a joint effort, Rotarians and Shepherd students proceeded to fill thousands of ten pound bags and hauled them off to shelters and soup kitchens all over the area. “More than two hundred and fifty townspeople turned out to help. Many of them were young children.”
Soon a group of students will be traveling to Salem City, New Jersey for “Alternative Spring Break” where they’ll work for Habitat for Humanity. This is the fifth year Shepherd students have traveled the East to help Habitat. Shepherd students also walk fourteen hours to raise money for the American Cancer society. Holly said with justifiable pride, “In 2003, when we first started, fifty students walked and raised $5000. Last year 670 students walked and raised $73,000.”
The list of Shepherd student involvement in community service goes on and continues to increase. The State Journal named the Shepherd University Office of Community Services and Service Learning one of the 55 Good Things About West Virginia. (May 30, 2008 edition) The reason: The Office of Student Community Services and Service Learning has as its mission to promote, organize and assist in the coordination of campus outreach initiatives. The office works directly with non-profit agencies and initiatives, both locally and nationally, to create opportunities that are mutually beneficial to both the agency and Shepherd’s students. It embraces learning through service.
Holly has been leading this office for six years. The schedule is hectic and the work, though rewarding, is demanding. She happily rounds out her days being a mom and a wife. What more could there be? In May, at the Shepherd University Commencement, she will walk as a Masters candidate. Then Holly will celebrate a milestone and three years of study with the family she loves so much. “They all picked up the slack when I needed them the most. They’ve lived this journey and the degree is as much for them as it is for me. I hope I have set an example for my children and for the students with whom I work every day — that learning is a life-long process and you’re never too old.”
Go Holly! You are definitely making a difference.
– Sue Kennedy is a former public relations executive and Emmy Award winning screenplay writer.