Powerful, inspiring stories about Maurice Moser continue to be shared — a strong testament to the person he was and the life he lived.
Moser, a longtime educator in the Monroe County School System, died on Friday morning after a battle with cancer. He was 58 years old.
The end of this year would have marked 31 years that Moser had worked in education.
“My heart is heavy,” said Director of Schools Tim Blankenship. “Maurice has had a profound impact on our school system. He was open to any role and always gave his all to anything he was asked to do. Over the past few weeks, I have seen many stories on social media about the impact Maurice had on his former students and co-workers. What an example of knowledge and grace he has left! Without a doubt, he was an incredible man. We will miss him very much and will try to continue his legacy.”
Moser began his career in the Monroe County School System as a teacher at Madisonville Middle School from 1987-89. From 1989-92, in addition to teaching, he coached basketball at the school, positions he continued from 1992-94 while he also served as assistant principal.
He moved to Madisonville High School for the 1994-95 school year as a teacher and the school’s basketball coach.
When Madisonville High School and Vonore High School combined to create Sequoyah High School in 1995, Moser was one of the first teachers at the new school. For the next three years, he served as both a teacher and a coach there.
In 1998, Moser became principal at Sweetwater High School.
“Mr. Moser brought stability and care for our students at Sweetwater High School,” said current SHS Principal Eric Weaver. “He also brought a wealth of coaching knowledge and worked tirelessly to improve every program during his short time with us. There was never any doubt about his love for the students here and the rest of the county. He worked with every teacher to improve the instruction and Sweetwater High School made several gains. The most important gain was the support from the administration.”
“Maurice inspired me and served as a mentor to Mr. [Rodney] Bourff and I during the Principal’s Academy,” added Weaver. “He inspired people in every walk of life and I’m sure a lot of students will never forget what he has done for the Monroe County Schools. He was my colleague, mentor and, most of all, my friend.”
After a year at Sweetwater High, Moser resigned for a job in McMinn County, but he returned to the Monroe County School System just a year later — back to where his heart was — and served as both a teacher and coach at Sequoyah for the 2000-2001 school year.
‘A compassionate and truly inspiring principal’
In 2001, Moser accepted the role as principal at Sequoyah High School and remained in that position until 2013.
“On behalf of Sequoyah High School, we extend our condolences to the family of Mr. Moser,” said current Sequoyah High School Principal Debi Tipton. “He served as our coach, teacher and principal for many years. Mr. Moser was a man of high integrity and exceptional character. During his time at Sequoyah, he represented his family, the school and his community with all that was within him — always pushing the young people and their well-being first. His dedication to the students, faculty and staff will be greatly missed, but never forgotten.”
His students at Sequoyah High School remembered him fondly.
“One of my favorite memories of Mr. Moser is one that most people probably wouldn’t rank in their top three favorites,” said Sunni (Watson) McCulley, a 2006 graduate of Sequoyah High School.
McCulley said she got called to Moser’s office after she begrudgingly followed her then-boyfriend, and ride home, out the door to his car at 2:45 p.m. instead of waiting until 3 p.m. one afternoon.
“He, of course, knew that I had never been in trouble except in group-punished situations where it was hard to decipher who was guilty and who wasn’t, let alone called to the principal’s office,” she said.
Moser sat his student down, and McCulley said she will never forget the words he said next.
“He said, ‘This is one of those times that I really don’t like having to do my job and give our consequences for actions. Sunni, I watched you on that camera and knew you were trying to talk him out of going and didn’t follow him right away. The look of guilt on your face when you knowingly looked at the camera was punishment enough in my eyes because I know you probably stressed all evening and morning about the decision.
“However, I have to do something and I’m sorry to say you will have detention after school for the remainder of the week or a one day in-school suspension. I am leaving the choice to you. I strongly recommend the three afternoons of detention here in the office and encourage you to use that time to think about the type of people you allow to influence your decisions.”
McCulley said she served her time doing exactly what Moser recommended.
“Did I get in trouble and was I a nervous wreck while walking down the hall to his office? Yes. But, I left that office knowing that he truly saw and paid attention to his students,” she said. “He tried to understand them and encourage them even while disciplining and correcting. He was compassionate and a truly inspiring principal and I’m so glad I got to have him sitting across from me that one and only time in front of a principal’s desk.”
‘An inspiring legacy’
In 2013, Moser moved to Monroe Academy as its principal, while also serving as secondary supervisor for the school system, until 2015. In 2015, he stepped into the position of transportation director for the school system and remained in that role until his untimely death last week.
“What I will miss most about Maurice is his friendship,” said Blankenship, who attended Principal’s Academy with Moser in 2001. “We have been friends throughout our careers. Maurice had a very caring heart and he always looked for a way to help others.”
Moser was a man of great faith and was a lifelong member of Hiwassee Church of God in Madisonville, where he taught Sunday School for many years.
“His kind demeanor, humor and ability to tell a story could lighten your day and your heart when needed,” said Blankenship. “He was always lend a hand or an ear if your day was not going well.”
Brooke Johannsen, the attendance and student management coordinator for the school system, echoed Blankenship’s thoughts.
“Mr. Moser gave his all at every role he had,” she said. “What I will miss most are our talks about life and our laughter. He could brighten even the grayest day. He was one of a kind and we will all strive to follow his example of dedication, kindness and love.”
Moser’s genuine sense of humor is something that will long be remembered by those who knew him.
“Jolie. Angelina Jolie,” laughed Angie Arp Kyle, principal at Madisonville Primary School. “That’s my name, according to Maurice Moser. And he was my MoMo. And boy, did I love to hear his laugh when I called him that!”
Kyle called Moser “faithful.”
“There has never been a more loyal and faithful follower as Maurice Moser,” she said. “Today, he sits on the right hand of our Lord. His influence has touched our lives in so many ways and I, for one, am so grateful that I had the honor of being his friend. He was a blessing to me and to anyone who knew him. He left an inspiring legacy, not only for his family, but for the numerous lives he touched in Monroe County and beyond.”
‘The greatest of these is love’
Moser is survived by his wife of 40 years, Terry Moser, principal of Madisonville Middle School, in addition to his daughters and sons-in-law, Kim and Phillip Carroll, and Stephanie and David Lane, and his son and daughter-in-law, Matthew and Natasha Moser. He had five grandchildren — Hanna and Haley Carroll, and Marshall, Caleb and Riley Lane.
“Over the years, I’ve heard him tell his grandchildren, ‘Poppa loves you.’ And he did, with all his heart. As for his children, there was no doubt how much he loved and how proud he was of Kim, Stephanie and Matthew,” said Kyle. “But the thing I will remember most about Maurice Moser is the way he loved his Terry Ann. With his whole being. Gentlemen, that’s how it’s supposed to be. Faith, hope and love. And the greatest of these is love.”
See full obituary on page A2 of today’s paper.