Perhaps you will recall Virgil Morant (November 7, 1973-November 13, 2017) for his commentary on matters Orthodox, Greek or both, his occasional musings on contested cases from his small law office in suburban Cleveland. He was in demeanor an extremely gentle man, civilized, too peaceful and genteel to strike one as an attorney. He fit no true ideological category, but his life as an Orthodox Christian, a fan of classical music, as an attorney and true maverick, far more than I.
I did not know Virgil long, but I think I knew him somewhat well, having exchanged online with him many times online, especially when he was more active and present on his blogs and on social media. He was a very quiet, very slender man with a large, long beard, and seemingly possessed of a ascetic approach to many things in life; he was vegetarian, not unusual at all for Orthodox monks but quite unusual for most Greek lay people. Meeting him finally in person this past June evoked pictures I have seen of Mount Athos, the autonomous region of northern Greece that still lives and prays on the clock and calendar of Byzantium, where women cannot visit and men need a Orthodox Church visa to disembark from the ferry. Indeed, his last email to me suggested that he and I might someday travel together, even conceivably to Mount Athos – an unusual opportunity and honor for a non-religious person, even non-Orthodox, such as myself.
He represented the opposite of what much of the legal profession has become. He did not talk about how awesome an attorney he was; he talked about the work and doing it well. More, however, he talked about the rest of life: his faith, his travels, his love of classical music, his hometown pride. He was humble in demeanor, in lifestyle, in attitude.
The last time I saw him in person in September, he was in town to visit friends in Howard County. After letting me buy him breakfast, he put a bottle of ouzo in my hand as a gift. That bottle has sat in my fridge for most of the last three months, with one large shot or two to help me fight off a cold.
Virgil died on, it is estimated, November 13. His death did not make “the papers.” He was not discovered until two weeks after his estimated time of death. He lived alone, unmarried, with much of his family out of town or predeceased. He was known among friends for challenges with depression and also for rather contentious cases. It appears that he suffered an accident in his home. Some time ago, Virgil’s house burned down and he had to move his remnants into storage. He later moved much furniture and the like into a smaller space. It appears that the overcrowded conditions led to an accident of some sort. His parish St. Demetrius of Rocky River, OH, held the traditional liturgy three weeks ago.
My condolences to his friends and family. As an aside, his brother was a neighbor of mine at Princeton in my sophomore year, and was also a good guy.