Morgan Usadel RIP

I haven’t written here yet about the loss of Morgan Usadel. It is indeed a great loss, to us, and to so many others.

Morgan was, well, Ernie and I always laugh about the time someone referred to Ernie as a community icon, but Morgan really WAS a community icon in Champaign-Urbana.

Morgan ran Figaro’s, the classical arm of Record Service as well as being in charge of all the jazz at Record Service. Before that he was at Discount Records and after Figaro’s he was at Pages for All Ages. If you cared about classical music or jazz in those years, you knew Morgan, or unknowingly felt his influence. Morgan wouldn’t just tell you about a recording, the music, the players, the performance, even the catalogue number would roll off his tongue without a pause.

He had a glorious head of hair, a quiet kind gaze and a sly sense of humor. The last time I saw him was pre-pandemic. We ran into each other at Einstein’s Bagels and he gave me a big hug as we chatted for a second. I told him to give our love to Chu and it never occurred to me that would be the last time I would see him.

Ernie said the last time he ran into Morgan, he told Ernie he had just gone through his entire record collection and played each record. I can just imagine him telling Ernie that with his quiet enthusiasm. Ernie was delighted.

After Ernie was diagnosed with cancer, all those years ago, Morgan was so worried, and so kind to us. I remember him coming over to our house and perching on our couch, sighing with relief when we told him that we thought Ernie would be ok. I remember out of all the wonderful meals people brought after Ernie’s surgery, the one Chu and Morgan brought was my favorite. A couple of rotisserie chickens, a bagged salad, some ears of corn and a bag of cookies. Elegant in its simplicity, beauty and comfort. A perfect representation of our friend.

Our heart, is of course with Chu, Gabe and Gabe’s family.

A memorial has been announced for Saturday, October 16 at Crystal Lake Park. Check this out for more info and some wonderful pictures of Morgan.