Katrina Polvinen Morgan
July 9, 1948 – November 11, 2019
Katrina Polvinen Morgan was born July 9, 1948, into a Finnish home in West Paris, Maine. Her father, Walter, was a Maine woodsman and mechanic. Her mother, Hilja, was an Emergency Room nurse. Katrina was one of seven children—Natalie, Peter, Roger, Carilla, Carl, and Anna. Katrina grew up in a Finnish-speaking Congregational Church. During a campfire service in summer camp on Cape Cod at age nine, she trusted Jesus Christ as her Savior. She began attending an English-speaking church and was baptized in a nearby pond.
Katrina played basketball in high school, and attended the YMCA secretarial school in Portland, Maine. Upon graduation, she had a job interview with Antoinette Johnson at New York’s Waldorf Astoria. Mrs. J was a wealthy interior designer from Palm Beach, who wanted to open a bookstore. Mrs. Johnson, a zealous soul-winner, became a mentor. Katrina’s fondest memory of this period was spending a month in Austria with Mrs. J, designing the interior of a castle being renovated into a Christian center. Later Katrina was hired by the Palm Beach County School Board and then by the City Clerk’s Office of the City of West Palm Beach, where, on one occasion, she performed a wedding.
After reading Elisabeth Elliot’s book, Through Gates of Splendor, Katrina became interested in missionary service. In 1973, she was hired as a secretary at Columbia International University in South Carolina, working in the department that sent out preaching and singing teams. She also enrolled in classes to develop her qualifications for missions service.
One of the traveling teams was headed by Robert Morgan, a senior. He was in her office every day working on itineraries. A friendship developed. Katrina claimed she fell in love after hearing Robert preach. For Rob’s part, it was on graduation day when he saw her smile and blond hair and realized he was leaving.
For the next two years, Katrina and Robert wrote letters to each other. Their friendship deepened in those letters. One week, Katrina visited Roan Mountain, and while waiting in the car for a friend to finish an errand, Robert said, “If we don’t get married, we’ll never get to spend time together.” Katrina, surprised, said, “Is that a marriage proposal? It’s the funniest proposal I’ve ever had. When do you want to know?” Robert said, “Expeditiously.” Katrina said, “Well, the answer is yes.”
The two were married on August 28, 1976, in West Paris, Maine, and honeymooned Canada. For an exact year, they lived in Roan Mountain, working retail jobs, fulfilling preaching chores, and looking for a pastorate.
On August 28, 1977, the Morgans moved to Greeneville, Tennessee, and served Harris Memorial Church in Camp Creek until called by The Donelson Fellowship near the end of 1979—forty years ago.
As pastor’s wife, Katrina mentored other women, led classes, cared for widows, taught fifth grade girls, and was beside her husband in all phases of career and marriage.
Their greatest joy has been their three daughters: Victoria, Hannah, and Grace—and now their families. Katrina loved her girls, her sixteen grandchildren, and her great grandson. She was a strong and dedicated mother, and she kept undying faith and love toward her daughters. Each brought her a different kind of joy and pride, and they remained in the center of her thoughts and love.
Katrina’s favorite pastime was afternoon tea, which she enjoyed with the girls while they were growing up, and then with her grandchildren, with friends, or by herself. She collected teapots and teacups. For years she wrote a monthly column called “Katrina’s Cup of Tea” in the church periodical. She was also passionately proud of being a feisty New England Finn.
From her Florida days, Katrina never missed her daily extended time of Bible Study and prayer. She was devoted to her Quiet Time with the Lord each morning, and that was the secret of her strength. Something about her smile—even in her last days—brought joy to whoever saw it. She had the gift of a smile.
In 1990, the Morgans moved into their home on Pennington Bend in Nashville, and that same year Katrina was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis. Her symptoms showed up in the 1980s, so she battled MS for over thirty years. Gradually she went from walking without aid, to a cane, to a walker, to a wheelchair. She occasionally became angry or disgusted with her limitations, but her walk with God gave her daily renewing. Katrina and Robert decided to travel whenever possible since they weren’t likely to do it in retirement. Katrina was proud to say they had been overseas 13 times—to Asia, the Middle East, Africa, and Europe. Their last overseas trip was a second honeymoon in Paris, and their final vacation last fall was to Washington, D.C.
Katrina’s MS brought blessings as well as burdens. The incredible lessons she and Robert learned through this journey were magnified through their preaching, teaching, and writing. Katrina was a huge part of every book, reading each word repeatedly and making corrections and suggestions. In 2016, they released The Strength You Need. Robert and Katrina choose twelve “strength” verses in the Bible, and Katrina wrote the closing segments of each chapter as well as the conclusion of the book. Those thirteen segments are her written legacy.
In her final days as she was struggling and confused, she suddenly started quoting the hymn stanza that says: “My gracious Master and my God, assist me to proclaim, to spread through all the earth abroad the glories of Thy name.” Those were among her last words, and they represent the glorious obsession of her life.
Katrina is survived by her husband, Robert. Also by her beloved siblings mentioned above; by daughters Victoria (and husband Ethan), Hannah (and husband Eric), and Grace (and husband Joshua); by her grandchildren: Miranda, Jordan, Ally, Christiana (and husband Dylan), Chloe, Corinna, Cate, Lilly, Hope, Tyler, Elijah, Ava, Audrey, Jude, Owen, and Liam; and by her great-grandson Clay.
If you wish to honor Katrina’s memory, contributions in her name are welcomed by The Donelson Fellowship. Katrina had friends and prayer supporters around the world, and her family is grateful for every one of you. May God bless you. As John 11:4 says, “This sickness will not end in death. No, it is for God’s glory, so that God’s Son may be glorified through it.” Please let Katrina’s life and legacy lead you to give yourself to Jesus Christ, who has prepared an eternal, unfading hope and home for us. Even so, come, Lord Jesus!
A Memorial Service will be held at The Donelson Fellowship on Thursday, November 14, 2019 at 7:00 pm with receiving of friends from 5:30 pm until 7:00 pm.
Graveside Services will be conducted at Happy Valley Memorial Park, 2708 Elizabethton Highway, Johnson City, Tennessee 37601, on Saturday, November 16, 2019 at 11:00 am.
- Josh Rowe
- Elijah Rowe
- Ethan Pierce
- Steve Campbell
- Eric Olsen
- Matt Pierce
- Ben Lawson
- Jordan Pierce
The Donelson Fellowship
3210 McGavock Pike, Nashville, Tennessee 37214
- Gathering of Family & Friends Thursday, November 14, 2019
- Memorial Service Thursday, November 14, 2019
- Graveside Service Saturday, November 16, 2019
Katrina Polvinen Morgan
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November 18, 2019
I have very fond memories of Katrina. We became friends at a very young age and went to all through elementary and high school together in West Paris, Maine. My last memory of her was at our 50th high school class reunion in 2016 and I'm so glad she was there along with Robert and her daughters. I have many wonderful memories of Katrina; she was my very first true friend. My sincerest sympathy goes to Robert and her entire family.
Janet Emery Knapp