|Morey O'Donnell 2012 HOF|
By Jo Anne O’Donnell
On a bronze plaque given to the OʼDonnell family by the Vandal Boosters after the death of Morey in 1977, the words and music of ʻGo Vandals Goʼ were reproduced along with the words ʻgentleman, booster, alumnus, composer.ʼ This is a fair description of Morey OʼDonnell, only missing is his profession – attorney at law, as he practiced law in Moscow throughout his adult life.
Morey was a child prodigy when it came to music and played the piano from a young age. At age16, he played piano in a band on a luxury liner bound for Tokyo. Although he suffered severe seasickness on the voyage, it didnʼt deter him from wanting to return to Japan one day – which he did many years later . . . only he flew.
At the University of Idaho, Morey joined the class of ʼ33 and composed Go Vandals Go for the annual Freshmen Follies. In the same year, 1933, the fight song was included in a book – ‘Songs of the Vandals,’ published by the Associated Students, in which Morey compiled and arranged University of Idaho songs. Among his compositions in the book are Vandal Sweetheart, the Silver and Gold Waltz, Come, Fellows, Idaho Fair, and We’re Here to Win.ʼ
That Go Vandals Go would last as Idaho’s fight song was not always a given. Bing Crosby, the famous ʻcroonerʼ who hailed from Spokane, introduced a fight song written by another composer, but it did not usurp the popularity of Moreyʼs fight song. In more recent times, Go Vandals Go has been recognized twice, in two different decades, as the ʻbestʼ fight song by sportswriters affiliated with the Oregonian in Portland.
Morey loved to play the piano for one and all who appreciated his music. And his music kept him busy. In college, he directed the University of Idaho pep band and also led bands that played for dances at the university. In fact, his artistry on the piano provided him with income during the thirties - in the heart of the Great Depression – and ultimately allowed him to graduate from Idahoʼs College of Law.
In later years, Morey played for many University of Idaho coaches who came to town. He loved to learn the fight songs of their alma maters as he and his wife Virginia (Sammy) entertained them and Vandal Booster friends in their home. When learning new songs, he would tell them, “If you can hum it, I can play it.” And play it he did.
Morey was an avid supporter of Idaho athletics and he and Sammy had season tickets for football and basketball through the decades. Iʼm sure his only regret is that he didnʼt get to see the Vandals compete and win in a bowl game. Nevertheless, he enjoyed many thrilling moments watching “from the north, came a tribe brave and bold, bearing banners of silver and gold.”