We invite you to read the stories and remembrances shared by Eli’s friends and family.
Please take a moment to submit your own personal memory.
For me, Eli was a mentor, a coach, and a champion.
– Connie Morrison
– Tony Hopson Sr.
– Tim Malarkey
– Tim Schoffstall
My dad loved his family, and he loved his work. He always looked toward the next horizon. He made time for us – always – whether it was up at 4:45 a.m. to take me to tennis lessons before he went into work or taking us all traveling around the world.
Forty years ago, he – a white businessman – saw the need to support kids of color in Portland, and he threw himself completely into that work with Self-Enhancement, Inc., in Portland. He put his money and his voice behind helping kids that others overlooked.
My dad was a visionary, a forward-thinker. He knew what he wanted, but he had a gift for remaining open to new ideas from other people. What he wanted most was for people to find opportunities. His philanthropy was all about that, and that part of him really influenced me and everyone around him.
He was gracious, he was determined, and you could see the deep joy he felt when he was making a difference in people’s lives.
Eli completely understood and firmly believed in family bonding. He would do anything for his kids and grandkids. From the minute I came into the family, he was there for me. He was the best man at our wedding. When Elijah was born, he was there at the birth. As busy as he was, he came to see Elijah every month during those baby years.
He was an amazing father, friend, and business mentor. He really cared, and he really listened.
Eli was the best kind of self-made man: proud, smart, and incredibly generous. He loved his success because it gave him the means to do things for his mother, Jessie, and for his children, and the rest of us in his family. He included all of us, always.
He had an adventurous, full, and successful life and he worked hard, every day, to make it all happen.
I worked for Eli at M Financial Group in 1986–1987 when I was only a year out of college. I was smart, but very rough around the edges, with no people or business skills.
I remember my first performance review with Eli, and his gentle but pointed comments about how I had soured my working relationship with some key insurance partners. He could have, justifiably, ripped me a new one, but instead he calmly explained the situation, helped me see where I had gone wrong, and pointed me in the direction of rebuilding those relationships.
I never really appreciated what he did until last year. I am now the chair of a large math department and responsible for the professional development of junior faculty. I was doing a performance review of a young instructor who reminds me very much of my younger self: intelligent, strong-willed, but someone who did not tolerate fools lightly, and in particular did not work well with senior faculty.
As we were talking and I was trying to figure out how to explain the problem, I suddenly remembered how Eli had dealt with me. I ended up sharing this story with the junior faculty member, and it became the basis for a very productive conversation and a fresh start for him in my department.
David V. Cruz-Uribe, OFS
University of Alabama
Although my time at my firm only began a couple of years before Eli’s time as M Financial Group’s CEO ended, I still managed to accumulate some great memories of Eli on a first-hand basis. But those memories are outpaced by the countless great stories I’ve heard from Mark Solomon and so many other folks who worked very closely with Eli for years.
My favorite, though, comes from Dan Byrne, who told me — with some hilarious detail — about how Eli “kicked him under the table” during a meeting with a carrier, thereby “punctuating” the age-old idea of knowing when to “stop talking” after other parties agree to what you are seeking.
Eli’s footprint for M ranges far and wide and extends indefinitely into the future. We are all so indebted to him!
Tim Malarkey, Board Member, M Financial Group
JKJ Financial Services
I will never forget my first meeting with Eli Morgan in the original M Financial Group office south of Portland.
Jeff and I had just moved to Oregon for a new business opportunity for him, and I was interviewing for a role at M. The spectacular view of the Willamette River and the Sellwood Bridge made a fantastic backdrop for meeting with Eli.
Eli greeted me in his office wearing his signature bright pink sweater with the collar of his button-down shirt just barely visible. (Eli mastered business casual before business casual was a thing.) I took my seat at one of the 10 chairs that fit around his famous horseshoe-shaped desk and proceeded to listen to Eli tell me about the best life insurance organization in the country and his big plans for its growth.
This turned out to be just the first of many meetings I was fortunate to be a part of where Eli held court with his M team around that horseshoe-shaped desk.
Eli loved fun and competition. MCG-LA and MCG Northwest had a special relationship, with our firms being in the same market niche and each firm led by one of the original Ms. I had the good fortune to attend an MCG-LA/MCG Northwest combined meeting in Portland, which included idea sharing and competitive challenges such as tug of war, egg toss, three-legged races, and canoe racing.
Even though he was the CEO of M by that time, Eli was right in the middle of all the fun as our two firms came together. I will never forget the tug of war with a giant rope with Peter and Eli each leading the charge on opposite sides pulling for their teams.
Eli loved to have fun and always had a flair for the dramatic. It was a Friday in March — bonus day at M. That morning, a Brinks truck pulled up to the building and Eli proceeded to hand out bonuses IN CASH!
Kristi Barens, Board Member, M Financial Group
Mullin Barens Sanford Financial
Eli was always ready to have fun, and he loved his Oregon pinot. I recall two classic Eli moments:
I was at the M building in Portland late one Friday afternoon to pick up Kristi. As I entered the office, walking down the hall toward me was Eli. He had a big smile on his face and was carrying a bottle of wine and a glass. He said, “Jeff, go grab a glass and join me, it’s Friday.”
At one of the M Christmas parties at Eli’s house, he greeted us in his Santa hat and gave me a hug, then told the staff, “Don’t let this guy’s glass ever run low.”
Eli was a special leader. In 1957, he was the leading producer for Mutual Benefit Life in Portland, Oregon. I was the leading agent for Mutual Benefit in Los Angeles. My general agent arranged a trip for Eli to come to Los Angeles and meet me. At that time, Eli was a tall, skinny 22-year-old ex-basketball player from the University of Oregon. He shared many of his sales ideas with me.
Shortly thereafter, Eli left MBL and became a PPGA with Confederation Life. I subsequently followed him, and I met some great guys such as Mark Solomon, Phil Lyons, the late Don Mehlig, the late Read Goode, and the late Bill Koptis.
A few years passed and I got to know Peter Mullin, who joined forces with Eli, Mark Solomon, and Carl Mammel and formed M Financial. The four of them were a force and combination of great talent. As Mark Solomon said, Eli was a farmer: he knew how to sow the seeds, the seeds were all of us.
Eli was a special person. He was always soft spoken and knew how to get the job done. Without Eli, M Financial would never have existed. Through this company, I was very fortunate to get to know some outstanding people such as Bob Swartzbaugh, Don Portell, Byron Teekell, and Bob Spivak.
May Eli rest in peace as a job well done. God bless his soul.
I started with M Financial Group in 1990. I remember our annual bonus days were always entertaining. You would meet with Eli and your manager when you got your bonus. Eli always had a trivia question, and everyone who got the answer right went into a drawing for a prize. This was pre-Google, so when you came into the office, there was always a mad rush to find out what the question was and the correct answer. Let me tell you that coming up with the names of the seven dwarfs is not an easy thing!
It was also fun because Eli would do unexpected things at the bonus meeting. One time he gave each of us a bag with $200 worth of quarters. I was good to go on the laundry front for quite a while after that. I am so happy to have been with M during those years. They were truly golden.
M Financial Group
The Sabbatical to the Baltic and St. Petersburg, Russia, was the first Sabbatical for Ann and me. It remains one of our favorites, especially the three days in St. Petersburg. Eli’s fingerprints were all over that wonderful adventure. He was an incredible visionary; he was larger than life, figuratively and literally. RIP.
David A. Culley, CLU, ChFC
Nease, Lagana, Eden & Culley
Many years ago, I was invited to an M Financial Group holiday party as a guest of one of M Financial Group’s employees. As a young scrappy 20-something invited to a holiday party at Eli’s home, I was a little nervous. But I will never forget his kindness and generous words to a person he barely knew.
Eli was a person who seemed to know what to say to inspire a person to be better. I am proud to have been able to shake his hand and meet one of the founders of M.
Southwest Office Supply & Interiors
Eli Morgan was a life changer. By finding the “best of the best” in the insurance industry, and bringing them together, everyone was elevated in a manner and to a level they never would have achieved on their own.
Quite simply, he caused people around him to be better. M Financial Group, led by Eli and three others who formed the company, was built on this vision. He was always inclusive, decisive, and he was a profound innovator. He changed people’s lives, and he was, above all, a loving man.
Wayne M. Schuh
Eli had the most amazing zest for life. He was the epitome of someone who put his life to good use, helping people to grow professionally and personally.
I still have notes from my first meeting with him, years ago, when he helped me in the early days of starting my business. He had me write down all my expenses, and he walked me through all that I needed to do in order to move forward. No detail was too insignificant for him to explain.
He changed the whole trajectory of my career with his patience and expertise. He became a dear friend — he was my “adopted father” who walked me down the aisle when I got married. Eli changed lives by helping people find opportunities.
Jennifer Adams Home
Eli was an amazing person. We spent a lot of time together, vacationing with our families, talking, laughing. A favorite memory: When we first moved to Portland, we had a house right next door.
Eli didn’t think much of my landscaping – he had strong opinions on everything, of course. So, I looked out the window one day and there he was – in his white bucks, white slacks, and pink shirt, and he was mowing my lawn. So, I went over and started mowing his lawn.
He had a gift for that kind of friendship: fun, and always real.
I first met Eli in December 1972 when I was flown from Chicago to Portland, Oregon, to interview for the president’s job of a rapidly growing, successful organization. The first person I was introduced to outside my host company was Eli. Our “brief lunch” and four bottles of wine later ended at 5 p.m. It was only our first encounter, which resulted in many life events all over the world—literally.
If I was limited to only eight adjectives to describe Eli to others, those adjectives would be: most loving, most giving, most loyal, most honest, most trustworthy, most fun, most successful, and simply a GREAT GUY!
Eli will be sadly missed. In addition to his multiple friends, he will be mostly missed by his daughter Lee, his son E.C., and E.C.’s wife, Karen.
My wife, Jeri, and I were blessed to have Eli as a significant friend in our lives for nearly 50 years.
Our travels took us to every continent on the planet, the best hotels, the best restaurants, the best companions and, best of all, the many new friends we made in our worldwide travels.
Apart from the fun and wonderful times we had with Eli, his family, and friends, it was most rewarding to watch his giving and generous self help other organizations and people who needed his added support. He may have been the most giving, most generous, and most supporting donor of all the other very generous friends in our lives. I can’t help but think of organizations like Self Enhancement, Inc., in Portland, Oregon. Eli’s loving donations helped expand an organization that enabled so many young people to grow in their own success and inherit Eli’s giving way that they, too, have become successful and giving leaders themselves.
Eli, you will be missed by so many whose lives benefited from your giving self. Now they have the opportunity to practice what they learned about life from you.
We will love you unconditionally for the rest of our lives and thank you daily for coming into our lives.
Jim & Jeri Jensen
MOMENTS IN TIME
Eli impacted the lives of many at M Financial Group, in the community, and across the industry. Browse through photos sharing highlights from his life.
Losing Eli provides us with a moment to appreciate all that he accomplished as a family man, friend, business person, and community leader. To everyone who has spent time reflecting on Eli or sent condolences and gifts, thank you. We hope that you carry Eli’s spirit of joy and optimism with you.