Rhodri Morgan (29 September 1939 – 17 May 2017)
Rhodri addressing the Association in November 2011
It is with great sadness that we record the sudden death of Rhodri Morgan on 17th May aged 77. Rhodri was the President of the Radyr & Morganstown Association and took great pride and interest in what we did and in the development of Radyr & Morganstown.
Born in Radyr, Rhodri was the son of a Welsh academic, Professor Thomas John Morgan, and was second cousin to Professor Garel Rhys, who sadly died in February this year. He gave a talk to the R&M Association in November 2011 at which he dwelt on his early life. Born in the first month of the Second World War, he lived for the first 21 years of his life in the house on Heol Isaf next to the Methodist Church (then the Wesleyan Chapel). Radyr was much smaller then. It was primarily a railway village, dominated by the huge sidings, and with significant social barriers both within the Radyr Community (the Golf Club did not allow members ‘who worked with their hands’; such people had to play at Creigiau Golf Course) and between Radyr and Morganstown. He went to school at Radyr Primary in Park Road from 1944-50. The majority of the children (66%) came from Morganstown and, in his first year, the class was dominated by evacuees. His family was very much Welsh speaking.
He went on to Whitchurch Grammar School (now Whitchurch High School), then to St John’s College Oxford studying PPE, and finally to Harvard University, where he gained an MA in Government.
Rhodri became MP for Cardiff West in 1987 and, from 1988 to 1994, was a Shadow Environment Spokesman. In February 2000 he was elected First Secretary for Wales and became First Minister on 16 October 2000 when the position was retitled. He stepped down from the House of Commons at the 2001 General Election and retired from politics altogether at the Assembly elections in April 2011.
Never, ever lost for words, Rhodri was seemingly unchanged by high office. Interested in everything and everyone, he could talk for hours with enthusiasm and great humour. When talking to the Association he mentioned that he had been taught the piano by Helena Evans, but regretted he had not paid sufficient attention. He was hoping to restart his lessons in his retirement. He was always pleased to come back to Radyr to attend events – often, it must be said, looking somewhat dishevelled. But that was his charming style; he cared little for the trappings of high office; he simply believed in trying to make the right things happen.
So we are sorry to have lost yet another of Radyr’s ‘famous people’. Our condolences go to his widow, Julie, and the whole family.