Herbert Ogden Morse, Jr., 86, of Redding, passed away at home on January 20, 2020 of complications from prostate cancer.
Born in Amesbury, MA on May 27, 1933, Ogden grew up in Amesbury, South Hampton, NH, and Teaneck, NJ. He was the eldest of four children born to Herbert Morse, a social studies teacher and principal of Amesbury Middle School, and Corinne Morse, a home economics teacher.
Perhaps inspired by his parents, Ogden had only a single professional ambition: to become a high-school English teacher. After graduating from Dartmouth College in 1955 with a B.A. in English, and then receiving his M.A. from Yale University in 1956, he fulfilled that ambition beginning with a year in Neenah, WI, followed by two years at Roger Ludlowe High School in Fairfield. Then, in 1959, he became the original English chair at the new Joel Barlow High School in Redding, where he would teach for the next 35 years – his love of the classroom never diminishing.
Upon his retirement from teaching, Ogden consulted with The College Board, where he developed strategies for enhancing literature instruction that he delivered in workshops at schools throughout the country. In 2008, he co-founded with his son AcademicMerit, an educational-software company focused on improving literacy in grades 6-12. Today, through its partnership with The College Board, the company’s software is used by more than three million AP® students and teachers worldwide.
For all of his professional accomplishments, Ogden will be remembered most as a wonderful human being whose innate kindness was best exemplified by the twinkle in his blue eyes that seemed to disappear when he smiled—often in the midst of telling one of the countless stories for which he was well known.
At an early age, Ogden developed an abiding love for both music and literature, and few things brought him more contentment than listening to a song he found beautiful or immersing himself in a good book. When he wasn’t feeding his intellectual curiosity, he could often be found on the tennis court, whether playing a match with friends or giving a lesson. To relax at home, he would spend time in his substantial vegetable garden. At his camp on Lovell Lake in New Hampshire, the ideal day would entail working on one project or another, taking a long sail in his boat, Just in Time, and then attending a gathering of extended family, at the end of which, inevitably, he would lead a multi-generational game of “Simon Says.”
Above all, Ogden found his greatest joy in family. He was a beloved big brother to his younger sisters, Priscilla and Virginia, especially after their father passed away at the age of 44. When he became a father himself, he raised his four kids, individually and collectively, as if they were the fulfillment of a long-held dream, which they were.
And then there were his grandchildren, with whom the mutual love was undeniable. In person, on the phone, or in writing, he fostered unique relationships with Dustin, Leah, Emily, Rebecca, Alejandra, Sofia, Colby, and Tegan—taking comfort in their presence and immense pride in the lives he watched them build. In turn, he remains a part of each of them.
Ogden is survived by his wife of 63 years, Jane; his daughter, Sue Jacob, and her husband, Myles, of Minneapolis, MN; his daughter, Lyndi Ross, and her husband, Artie, of Simsbury; his son, Ogden Morse III, and his wife, Sue, of Falmouth, ME; his eight grandchildren; his great-grandchildren, Charlotte and Lucy Pinches; and his beloved cat, Charlotte. He was predeceased by his brother, Larry, who died in 2011; and by his daughter, Vicki, who passed away on the same date (January 20) in 2015.
A memorial service will be held on Saturday, February 29, 2020 at 11:30 am in the Joel Barlow High School auditorium. The family is planning to establish a scholarship in Ogden’s name at Joel Barlow.
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