The following is a piece Leonard wrote and revised in the years prior to his passing.
Soon an obituary will be needed for Leonard. And who is better able to write an obituary than the deceased? So why wait? Leonard Moss was born in Paterson, New Jersey in 1931, son of Pauline and Murray Moss. He attended three state universities (Oklahoma, Indiana, and California), then taught American and European literature at a fourth (SUNY Binghamton and Geneseo). At Geneseo he directed a program in comparative literature until his retirement in 1989. He did not lecture: the best part of teaching, he always said, was swapping ideas with his students. He learned as much as they did from the lively give-and-take of guided discussions.
As a Fulbright professor he chaired the English Department at the University of Athens in 1976-77 and taught graduate students at the Foreign Studies University in Beijing in 1985-87 and 1993-94. The peak years of his career were spent in China, where he met and married, after overcoming bureaucratic nonsense, Shaoping Wu, a spirited English teacher.
Professor Moss edited the journal of the Rhode Island Jewish Historical Association in Providence from 1998 to 2004. During fifty years of research and writing he wrote books on Arthur Miller, Joseph Conrad, tragedy and philosophy, and Darwin and literature, completing these projects by the age of eighty-five. “Revision is the key to vision,” he would say. “I may not have the brainpower of a genius, but I am persistent.”
After retirement, he enjoyed reading and writing, swimming and walking, drawing, and nurturing tomato and pepper plants. Above all, he delighted in his wife, a technology librarian at Mt. Holyoke College, and their talented son. The three were good companions and enjoyed vacationing at Cape Cod before relocating to the San Francisco Bay Area. The sea, sun, and sand, he believed, were more therapeutic than any doctor.
His grateful conclusion after a long, rewarding, sometimes arduous journey through life—“mission accomplished.” On that subject, he liked a poem by Emily Dickinson, his favorite poet: I stepped from plank to plank A slow and cautious way, The stars about my head I felt, About my feet the sea.
I knew not but the next Would be my final inch-- This gave me that precarious gait Some call experience.