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Living life with passion

Just because we retire from our job, doesn’t mean we have to stop doing all the other things we’ve grown to love. Lee Morgan certainly hasn’t.

The 72-year-old former CEO from Ohio is living the life of someone half his age, running marathons, climbing mountains and playing soccer.

“I enjoy the challenge of trying to stay in shape,” he explained. “I’m very careful about preserving my body. I’m in better shape now than I was in my 40s.”

One look at the 5-foot-9, 165-pound frame reveals that Lee has maintained an exercise regimen over the years. His gait is smooth and quick, and his enthusiasm mirrors that of a teenager.

“He’s always watching his weight,” said Vicki Morgan, his wife of 47 years. “He’ll weigh himself to the ounce every morning.”

The Morgans met at Antioch College in Ohio and lived in that state for many years before purchasing a beautiful home on the southeastern shore Clearwater Lake in Annandale seven years ago. They have two children and four grandchildren.

“Come and see my exercise room,” Lee said, bouncing up from his chair as if he’d just seen a stray soccer ball. He heads outside to a small building next to the main house. Once inside, the room transforms into a miniature version of a fitness center, complete with a dozen exercise machines, music and a flat screen television.

“I work out about an hour a day,” he said, although quickly interrupted by Vicki’s version: “More like an hour and a half to two hours.”

Of all the many activities in his life, soccer is at the top of Lee’s list. A defender, Lee still plays about four matches a year around the country in a 70-over Masters Division of the United States Adult Soccer Association, the oldest division currently available.

The team he plays for, FC Georgia, traveled to Japan to play seven matches this past January. The 17 players on the FC Georgia team were born in 12 different countries.

“We won six and tied one,” Lee said proudly. “We scored 19 goals and gave up only four. We had a few guys from our regular team that couldn’t make the trip to Japan, and there aren’t that many foolish old men out there, so we brought in a few ringers.”

Lee first became interested in the sport at age 13 at a boarding school in Ohio.

“I wasn’t big enough for basketball or football,” he explained. “And soccer is an inexpensive sport, too.”

His high school team in Yellow Springs, Ohio, did not offer soccer, so Lee played on a club team that he organized. Since there weren’t many other club teams around, they played matches against local colleges.

Lee was also a highly successful businessman before retiring in 2008. He spent most of his working life as CEO of The Antioch Company, which is best known as the parent company for Creative Memories, a company that specializes in scrapbooking supplies. The company’s headquarters is located in St. Cloud.

And his love for the sport has never waned over the years. He is a certified soccer official in both Ohio and Minnesota; the last 36 years in the former and the past 10 years in the latter.

“I referee about 20 high school matches a year in Minnesota,” he said. “But I still ref a few matches each year in Ohio, too. I exercise so I can referee and also to play soccer. As a referee, there is pressure of being in shape so you can run up and down the field with the kids.”

While playing a U.S. Veteran’s Cup match in San Francisco at age 69, Lee turned his ankle, and it broke in three places. He has 17 screws and two plates in the “bionic” ankle today, yet he still continues to run up and down the soccer field. “I don’t run half as fast as I used to,” he laughed. “But I still put a lot of mileage on these old legs.”

Lee spends a lot of time flying, for both business and pleasure. He is still a trustee of Antioch College. And, he has played soccer all across the country and in Japan, Kenya, Mexico and Canada. And, he’s climbed mountains in Africa, Argentina and Russia. The highest he has climbed is 22,000 feet on Mt. Aconcagua in Argentina in 2010.

“He lives a purposeful life,” said Vicki, a self-proclaimed “soccer widow.”

Lee not only has a solid knowledge of the game itself, but also of the history of the sport. He can rattle off the names and countries of certain players as if he’s in a trivia contest.

“Ask him about a certain play in a match in Brazil, and he’ll give you the answer,” Vicki remarked. “But if he does the dishes, he’ll ask me where a dish goes that has been in the same spot for the last 13 years.”

So, how much longer does he plan to play soccer?

“Let’s just say that I’m hoping they add a 75-and-over division,” he laughed.

And let’s just say he still gets quite a “kick” out of soccer.

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