MEET YOUR NEIGHBORS


 
   
Richard and Mary Sullivan
 

When Brad and Dawson Morgan grew up, they both loved the water — boating, sailing, fishing. They also held a deep belief that life should be enjoyed fully everyday, not just later in life when you retire. They found their place in Josephine, but it was a long trip from St. Louis to Lausanne, Switzerland, before arriving on Spring Branch.

Brad, who grew up in Booneville AR (population 3,000 on a big day), attended Vanderbilt University where he graduated with a chemical engineering degree before heading to New Orleans.

Dawson (Dunn) hails from Dog River and spent vacations at the Gulf. An artist at heart and in practice, she declared her college major when she was four years old. She honed her technique and broadened her understanding of the creative process at Milsaps College in Jackson MS where she graduated Phi Beta Kappa and was awarded a BA with a specialty in ceramics.

Both were working in New Orleans, when friends introduced them at Le Bon Temp Roule, a neighborhood hangout. After a friendly game of pool, Brad and Dawson fell into a deep conversation about life. During that first discussion they talked about their shared interest in ‘working to live, not living to work.’ It was an auspicious beginning and they were engaged six months later.

Soon after they were married, Brad joined Monsanto at their world headquarters in St. Louis. As if a demanding job in supply chain management and starting a family wasn’t enough, he attended Washington University on weekends and received an MBA. As a family, they made a lot of sacrifices, but kept their eye on their goal of retiring sooner rather than later.

Dawson continued her award-winning ceramic art while raising her two children. This was not a side hobby, rather a life commitment resulting in a solo exhibit and 12 group shows a year. Her work focuses on natural elements: how a pottery piece interacts with the light and shadow, and how natural color and texture inform her art. (Take a look at www.dawsonmorgan.com) Little did Dawson know that she would soon have the opportunity to exhibit internationally.

In 2004, Monsanto tapped Brad to become VP of Supply Chain for Europe and Africa. Essentially, they asked him to launch their European headquarters in Lausanne, Switzerland. Brad and Dawson were excited to take the leap — and a giant leap it was. This was not your typical ex-pat experience as there was no structure in place: no office, no apartment, no car, no staff and neither of the Morgans spoke French. They simply figured it out as they went along which meant that you could see Brad bicycling to his office space until he got a car. All these challenges — and they had a toddler son and baby girl! It was a productive and fun four years during which he established a network of resources and relationships, and built the Monsanto office from 1 person (himself) to 150. In 2008, the family returned to St. Louis where Brad was promoted to Global VP, Supply Chain.

As much as they liked St. Louis, it didn’t feel like home. They wanted their growing children to have “a Southern state of mind” and be hooked on the water culture they love so much. Whenever the family could snatch some time, they would head to the Mobile area and search for their vacation home. When a house looked appealing, they would rent a boat and scope it out by water. It took a while to discover Spring Branch, but when they did, there was no contest. With pen in one hand and burger in the other, they signed their contract at Pirates Cove.

Following their first amazing summer on The Branch, they returned to St. Louis…sad to leave. With an engineer’s mind, Brad reviewed his many spreadsheets, consulted with several financial planners and calculated that, after 24 years at Monsanto, it was time to accelerate their retirement plans and move south. Since they wanted to challenge their children with an IB program, the closest one was in Fairhope, so they bought a lot and built a home — complete with a brightly lit, spacious ceramic studio. Max, 15, has acclimated well and is certified as a US Sailing Level 1 Instructor. No small feat. Emory, 13, plays the viola, loves her IB program and is having a great time.

Dawson and Brad, well, they can be seen slipping over to Spring Branch during the week while their children are in school…just to check on the boat, of course. Le Bon Temp Roule!

 

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