Morgan Group Founder, Holocaust Survivor Bill Morgan Dies At 98
William Morgan, a Holocaust survivor and founder of Houston-based multifamily developer and operator Morgan Group, died Sunday at 98.
Morgan founded Globe Construction and Management Co. in 1959, which would later become Morgan Group, after surviving the Holocaust in Poland, where he was born as Wolf “Youssela” Marguiles in 1925.
Morgan Group handles development, construction, acquisitions and management of multifamily properties. It is the owner or manager of more than 17,000 units across 60 properties and has $4.5B worth of built or acquired assets, according to its website.
In 1941, 16-year-old Morgan and his family were sent to Stanislawow Ghetto in Poland, where he was forced to dig graves for other prisoners, according to the Houston Business Journal, which first reported Morgan’s death.
Morgan escaped the ghetto, which sits inside modern-day Ukraine's borders, using a birth certificate he borrowed from a Christian co-worker. He had his father’s blessing but would never see his parents or his six siblings again.
He worked as a farmhand in Ukraine before being drafted into the Russian army in 1944, according to the USC Shoah Foundation. He deserted the army and went back to the farm until the liberation at the end of the war in 1945.
“After a treacherous journey that finally led him to Houston, Bill married the love of his life, had five children and built a thriving business,” Holocaust Museum Houston CEO Kelly Zúñiga said in 2019. “He is a true marvel with much to share about resilience and the power of hope.”
Morgan helped to found and construct the Holocaust Museum Houston, which has a Morgan Family Welcome Center. He also participated in a permanent interactive oral history exhibit that opened in 2019.
After briefly working at Foley’s department store as a salesman in 1953, Morgan “became a serial entrepreneur,” buying a convenience store and selling it for a profit two years later, according to Morgan’s website.
His real estate career began with the establishment of Globe Construction and Management Co. in 1959. That year, he built three houses in northwest Houston and began renting them out on a weekly basis, the website says.
In 1987, Morgan’s oldest sons, Mike and Ronnie, incorporated Morgan Inc. As 50-50 partners, they grew the company to become a national real estate business with over 15,000 units developed across nine states by 2010. Mike purchased Ronnie’s stock in 2011 and rebranded the company as Morgan Group.
“The work ethic and conservative principles instilled in the company by Bill Morgan remain an integral part of Morgan’s DNA and culture,” the website says.
Bill Morgan’s grandson, Philip Morgan, became CEO in 2020 and is the third generation to lead the company.
Bill Morgan told the Houston Chronicle in 2004 that he wondered how he succeeded considering the odds stacked against him.
“Thanks to this great country of freedom and opportunities and my hard work, I can leave a legacy,” Morgan said. “But I will always have guilt for my family who died, wondering why I survived and they didn't. They were good people.”