Robert Rivers Morgan

Rivers was born in the summer of ’72 to Theil and Matthew Morgan, and joined his older brother Jacob. The family lived in a converted redwood barn on chaparral covered hills which included an avocado orchard and the foundations of his Grandfather, Judson Morgans’ fabulous self-designed family home which burned in the Coyote fire of 1964.

His early school experience began with numerous other Mountain Drive area kids of the late ’60s and early ’70s, in a small neighborhood school “where everyone becomes a teacher”. The schoolyard was at home, in the fields, at the Art Museum and wherever the next Play’s practices began. From there he attended Cold Springs School, SB Middle School and SB High School. He sharpened his art skills and knowledge at the Seattle Art Institute.

Rivers was composed of many things: his contagious enthusiasm, his playful pranks, his deep loyalty, his readiness to help. An adventurer, an athlete, an artist and a skilled craftsman. Rivers was a spirited expression of energy like his Dad and an impenetrable bear of intensity like his Uncle Scott. Whichever mood Rivs was in, whether he was prickly or benevolent, you wanted to be a part of it. He made you feel like a kid, like anything was possible.

He could create just about anything: carve roses out of radishes, carve pumpkins better than most people could draw them, paint intriguing stories and logos, create whimsical furniture and elegant inlaid frames and was a gourmet cook when the situation warranted. He never stopped creating.

He was the impetus for a group of Santa Barbara boys to move to Steamboat Springs, Colorado for a life immersed in snowboarding where they all lived in a narrow two story called the Rock House. He got a job at the Chart House, carving those aforementioned radishes into roses, and for a long time fed himself and his housemates on that night’s surplus baked potatoes.

Rivers as an athlete had, his peers describe, uncanny balance and coordination and could have been a sponsored contender in the early ’90s snowboarding scene. But he didn’t like to answer to other people and depended on his own skills and abilities to support himself and remained independent.

Rivers was the family member and friend that never leaves your heart or soul. Anyone who knew him will first remember his smile and his laugh. He had an enormous heart and a unique ability to open that heart to others. Rivers made you feel alive. Rivers made you feel loved. Rivers made you feel understood. He made you feel his trust and loyalty. He did these things innately and with incredible grace, charm and wit.

Rivers is survived by his mother Theil Morgan, brother Jacob Morgan, six aunts, three uncles, eleven cousins, and a large number of nieces and nephews. He was preceded in death by his father, Matthew Morgan.

His brother has spoken about the oscillation of feelings, of remembering Rivers and feeling the sense of elation, and then knowing he’s now gone, feeling a piece of your heart missing. Rivers lived hard and had no regrets. He devoured life. Godspeed, Rivers, you were a son, brother, friend, schoolmate and neighbor and we’re missing you.

There will be a Celebration of Rivers’ Life at Manning Park in Montecito on November 19 at 2:30 pm.


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