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Fifteenth Regent (1993-1996)

Laura Vaughan Inge was born on October 31, 1933, in Mobile, Alabama, and was raised there. She graduated from Sweet Briar College in Sweet Briar, Virginia, and later served on its board of directors. From 1987 to 1996, she was a trustee of Washington and Lee University, the venerable Lexington, Virginia, institution that, in its original incarnation as Liberty Hall Academy, received crucial financial support from George Washington.

She married Hiram Taylor Morrissette, who became chairman and chief executive officer of Colonial Sugars, Inc., serving from 1980 until the company’s 1986 acquisition by Savannah Foods and Industries. He died in 1990.

Pioneer Farm

Mrs. Morrissette was elected Vice Regent for Alabama in 1983. During her first two years in that position, she helped the Association surpass its capital-campaign goal of $10 million by another $1 million. In 1985 she and her husband became charter members of the Mount Vernon One Hundred, a group of the estate’s most loyal and generous member-supporters. She also served on the Association’s Executive Committee and as chair of its Human Resources Committee.

Mrs. Morrissette took office as Regent during the fall Council of 1994. In 1996 two major projects were completed that enhanced the Association’s ability to educate visitors about horticultural activities at the estate. A four-acre parcel of former swampland near the Potomac was transformed into the living-history exhibit George Washington—Pioneer Farmer. Its centerpiece is an exact replica of the innovative 16-sided treading barn he designed and built in the mid-1790s for the processing of wheat, his most important cash crop.

Mrs. Morrissette introduces a George Washington reenactor to children gathered for the treading barn dedication. MVLA.

Expanding the Interpretation

Under Mrs. Morrissette’s leadership, the Association appointed James C. Rees executive director in 1994. Mr. Rees shepherded the estate’s daily operations and helped complete a $116-million capital campaign, To Keep Him First, initiated during Mrs. Morrissette’s tenure; it made possible the construction of a new orientation center, museum, and education center as well as the reopening of George Washington’s gristmill and the reconstruction of his distillery. Furthermore, between 1994 and 2007, Mount Vernon’s endowment grew from $4 million to about $100 million.

After finishing her term as Regent, Mrs. Morrissette resumed her role as Vice Regent for Alabama. She retired in 2001 and was elected Vice Regent Emerita in 2002.

Mrs. Morrissette speaking during the barn dedication in 1996. MVLA.

Pioneer Farm

Located on the banks of the Potomac, the farm explores George Washington’s role as visionary farmer.

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