I first met Len in the mid-1980s through an old friend, Phyl Kiggell. We were all in Beijing, Len and Phyl were teachers, and I was studying Chinese. Some years earlier I had been a teacher in Hunan province, which was where I first met Shaoping. As fate had it, she was now teaching in Beijing as well. I introduced Shaoping to Phyl, and Phyl introduced her to Len. I remember Len as being a kindly and erudite man with a good sense of humour. Shaoping was intrigued by this courteous foreigner and soon they were spending time together, going on walks and exploring Beijing. When they announced that they were getting married (In Beijing) we were all delighted. Apart from a few brief reunions in China I feel sad that we didn't see more of Len and Shaoping over the years. Nevertheless, we continued to keep in touch. It always gave me great joy to see what a happy family life Len had, and to know that, all those years ago, I helped to make this possible.
Elisabeth Hallett, Oxford, UK
With Len at Eli and Sara's Wedding, 2015
Len will be greatly missed by all that knew him, but joyfully remembered for many reasons. We first met Len and Shaoping in Providence, Rhode Island as we celebrated together the graduation of Eli and Sara from Brown University. We shared a wonderful day together including a great meal at the end of the day. Since that memorable day, we have had the opportunity to share a number of meals together. The most joyful time we had with Len was at Eli and Sara's wedding in a redwood forest, Northern California, where we spent several days together, chatting, laughing and eating. For one of our last meals together, everyone gathered in the backyard of our Bay Area rental house on the Fourth of July. It was an evening of conversation and the pure joy of being together. Certainly, Len will be remembered for his great scholarship and for both his enjoyment of the written word and his skill as a writer. He was also a talented artist, which we learned at our last visit to Walnut Creek when he gifted Anita a very masterful series of figure paintings done in watercolor. Finally, just as we first met at Eli’s graduation from Brown, our last time with Len was at Eli’s PhD defense at Stanford University. We certainly will remember the great joy we saw in Len, his pride in Eli’s accomplishments, and his love for Eli. We share that uniting and unbreakable bond of love for Eli and Sara. Though Len is no longer with us, we all continue to share our love for each other in this life and are fortunate to have Eli and Shaoping as part of our family. Rob and Anita Hoffman, Vancouver, WA
Len and Robert Enjoy a Chat, 2009
Goodbye Dear Len,
I have known the Moss family for 20 years since the time both of our families lived in the Echo Hill neighborhood in Amherst, Massachusetts. Len and my husband Robert had a lot in common. They both taught at universities, both had quiet and mild temperament, both had Chinese wives, and both had a single son. When they got together they would have quiet little chats that belong only to the two of them. Eli was a mature and responsible boy beyond his years. Only one time, perhaps it was during Eli’s “rebellion age”, that Len was upset with Eli. Robert urged Len to call Eli and talked it over, and reminded Len how lucky he was to have such a good boy like Eli. Len did call and the two amended what was bothering them. Robert was very delighted about that.
Len was a typical old-fashioned scholar. Material wealth seemed far away from him. He enjoyed simple life and was totally dedicated to his work and his family. He had several illnesses but he never give up. Before moving to California we joined them in several occasions to look at some houses together trying to find a suitable house for them to purchase. I remember one time the four of us went out to see a house in the middle of winter. I think the slippery icy roads were probably the final draw for them to decide to move to the West Coast. Even though we missed their presence here, we were glad to see that the California sun had brought new life to Len. Each time we had an opportunity to visit west we would always stop by to visit.
In the above photo taken on 10/17/2009, the two gentlemen were enjoying a chat after a dinner at my house. Len was one gracious guest who always appreciated my cooking. He made me feel special. Oh, how I wish we could get together and have that family meal at my house and see those two wonderful men together again.
Robert left this world two months ago and now Len followed. Friends may never be alone. They meet in the eternal place! Rest in peace dear Len! You will be remembered.
Yan Shen Drabek, Florence, Massachusetts, June 6, 2020
Len was my 1st cousin once removed, someone whom I didn’t even know existed until 2013. But when I discovered him I decided to meet him, having visited in June of that year. During that initial visit, I found him to be a thoughtful, intelligent man, who was considerate, kind, concerned, and caring. In some ways he was like a Cheshire cat, reveling in the interpersonal events before him, but without a mischievous nature. Although he was born in 1931, I feel like his life really began in 1985, when he spent a year in China on a Fulbright.
I concluded this assertion by the noticeable change in his writing style in Along the Way, his autobiography. The first 53 years of his life were painted as drab, but his experience in China and afterwards was written with a flowery language. He confirmed my acknowledgment of this change in his writing style – it was intentional on his part. While his first 53 years on earth were not filled with happiness, he was nevertheless laying the groundwork for a successful remaining 35 years on earth. An example of this was his telling me that from his first marriage to Diane he learned how to live with a woman. Assuredly some of these skills must have manifested in his ultimate relationship with Shaoping.
He taught me two important lessons. The first was that he knew he needed to marry a woman who did not engage in “scenes” – expressions of powerful uncontrolled feelings. I never encountered someone previously who had this mandate, and it crystallized an example for me to follow in my own life. Second, he mentioned in his book and in person how important it is as a couple to “think as a team.” The partnership between Len and Shaoping was truly remarkable to witness; easy to tell that that’s exactly what they did.
I visited Len and Shaoping once or twice a year every year since 2013. I tried to find any excuse to visit California because I knew that visiting them would contain a delicious lunch and engaging conversation. Len meant a lot to me, and I will miss him. He will not be forgotten.
Mike Moskowitz, New York, NY
Coral Springs,At the age of 77, I finally met my cousin Len who was 81 at the time. We hadn’t seen each other in all the years, even though my father’s brother Murray was Len’s father.
The last I knew for many years was that Len was working in Greece. I was never aware he spent time in China. My son Michael through his thorough investigation finally located Len in San Francisco. He made arrangements for my wife and I and Michael to meet Len and his wife and spend some time in San Francisco. We all had a wonderful time reminiscing about the past and the present. This turned out to be a wonderful experience for all of us.
Len will be missed.
Lenny Moskowitz, Coral Springs, Florida
Dear Shaoping, It has been some time since Len and I communicated. I am saddened to hear of his death, but I still remember our first meeting, when we were both undergraduates at the University of Oklahoma, in 1949.
We went our separate ways after Oklahoma, but we remained in touch. I have to give Len credit that I left the U.S. Army and returned to the U.S. to do my Ph.D. in 1957. I was working as a military translator (German and Russian) in Frankfurt am Main and had been hesitating about the change. Len wrote me to say that it was time to make a hard decision--leave the army and work on my doctorate or give up. His advice was critical in pushing me to make the change.
Len was already teaching English at Binghamton University when I got the opportunity to move (from Lycoming College in Pennsylvania) to Binghamton.
I send you and your son my sincere, heartfelt condolences and I will not forget my buddy, Len, during the short time that is left to me on this planet. Carrol Coates, Binghamton, NY
Leonard and I met at the University of Oklahoma in 1952. We both were humanities students – literature, history, and philosophy. We had a great philosophy teacher who believed there were only four philosophers worth attending to --Plato, Aristotle, Kant, and Haggle. We would have coffee (or maybe a coke) at the student union and try to figure out what it all meant. Leonard may have got it, but I’m almost 90 years old and am still wondering. A few months after we met Leonard invited me to a costume party at his fraternity house. I managed to imagine that I really looked like Alice in Wonderland, and Leonard wore a great long cape. I was never sure whether he was Count Dracula or the Count of Monty Cristo. Either way, we had fun – danced a lot, declined drinks, and enjoyed ourselves. (In those days Oklahoma was a dry state, although there always seemed to be something around if you really wanted it.) He was one of the best friends I’ve ever had. I remember one evening when every thing had gone wrong for me, he came over to my apartment and let me cry on his shoulder. They don’t make many like him any more. And I’m going to miss him. Frankie Wilson Westbrook, Austin, Texas
To Len: I always thought I’d spend time again with my friend Len. That time will never come but thoughts of the wonderful, warm, simpatico times spent together with Len and Shaoping and my late husband Nathan will always remain. Nathan and Len became brothers the moment they met in Rochester. Both had true hearts and rebelled against inequality and unfairness. They also both enjoyed casual dress as a relief to their professional lives, especially red plaid flannel shirts.
When Len married Shaoping and returned to this country with her, he was a happy man, and I understood immediately. Her intelligence and strength and loyalty to a shared vision of family and life carried them both (and then all three including Eli) through some very difficult times. Len often said of Shaoping.
“I married the perfect wife.”
They had an exciting life together and raised a successful, caring son. There was so much love in the family of Moss. I will miss Len but know he is together again with his “Brother in Spirit” Nathan and they have so much to catch up on.
Love always to Shaoping and Eli.
I know we will meet again.
Lisa Cook, Rochester, NY
When we think of Len, several words and concepts come to mind: loving, kind, caring, generous with both time and self, modest, thoughtful, most enjoyable to spend time with. Every time that we were together, each of the foregoing were displayed in abundance. He always had time to listen, to share ideas, both abstract and practical. And in the process of sharing he was never judgmental, but always reflective.
Though we came to know him for but a few of his many years, we were fortunate to be able to grow from his wit and his wisdom. In addition, from all that we came to witness, he was a devoted and doting husband and father. Len was an individual who added much to every setting in which he found himself. His commitments and work live on in print, in friendships, and most importantly in Shaoping and Eli.
Rare is it that reflections on the deeds and humanity of a person who lived 88 years cannot capture fully the essence and contributions of that individual such that those of us still living can ask why it was that he could not have continued for many years to come. All who were open to him came to be touched by him and made better from having known him. Perhaps all that Len was is best summed up in the concept mensch.
Helen Alcala and Joe Aieta, Framingham, MA
I was saddened by the news of Leonard's passing; we have been friends for nearly 50 years. We shared many good times (as well as bad) in our professional and personal lives. On the lighter side, we both performed in musicals and plays at Geneseo (The Music Man, L'il Abner and others).
We were also co-editors of Thoughts For All Seasons: the Magazine of Epigrams. "Payday is the opiate of the Mosses" was one of Leonard's quips.
Both of us had happy second marriages and remained productive after what is known as "retirement." We also shared the military experience, but he made Captain while I never got beyond 1st Lieutenant.
Leonard had a wry sense of humor, which helped to put everything in perspective. Once, when I was wringing my hands about being a sociology professor at SUNY Geneseo, Leonard said: "Well, maybe you can become a derelict..."
Well, Old Boy, you will be missed, but not forgotten.
Michel Paul Richard
Dear Shaoping, I remember a fun time I had with Len, when he came to visit Larry and me and my new baby Sarah, so it must have been the summer of 1965, when Sarah was a year old. I took Len to Learned Pond in Framingham. There is a natural large lake there, and the town created a sandy beach next to lovely woods, and built a new large bathhouse there. It was free to Framingham residents. Well, I remember putting Sarah in the carriage and asking Lenny to take a walk with me so I could get her to sleep. He took over and found the path in the woods and told me to go back to the beach and relax. So I went back to the blanket and he came back in about 10 minutes, with the baby fast asleep. I asked him how he did it, and he said he just started lecturing to her, as if she was a class of his students. I cracked up laughing, and he did too. We had the best time that day! Love,
Miriam Kramer, Framingham, MA
Dear Shaoping, Thank you for including me in the list of friends. Len was a very special friend in Geneseo, New York.
My John and I were married 38 years ago and Len attended our wedding. I lost John a year and a half ago after a wonderful marriage full of love and happiness. I recall when we living in Pollock Pines, California we went to San Francisco to pick you two love birds as you returned from China.
I’m praying that you get lots of support during this time of grief. Len was a truly exceptional person and I know he is with you in all your beautiful memories.
Peace and blessings,
Betsy Callahan, Eugene, Oregon
I met Len only two or three times, but feel as if I knew him well, through his memoir. The last time I met him was on February 1, 2020 when, although he was clearly ill and conversation was tiring for him, he still gave me the impression of being intensely alive. I feel it was a privilege to know him.
Isabel Leonard, Rossmoor, Walnut Creek, CA
Though for several years we were both members of the faculty at Geneseo State College, I first met Leonard, and his future wife, Shaoping Wu, in China, where he was on a Fulbright and Arleen and I were attending an international conference on teaching chemical information, my wife’s field. In sequent years, we frequently stayed overnight with them in their homes in Easton and Amherst, Mass., on our way back from our annual vacation on Nantucket Island, Mass.
Leonard was a gentle, compatible, exacting scholar with a wry, bemused perspective on the world. He disliked pretense and posturing of any kind. He and I shared many of the same ideas and values, and I always enjoyed our all-too-infrequent conversations.
While I lost touch with Leonard after he and Shaoping moved to California, I remember him fondly and will always cherish our times together.
James Somerville, Geneseo, NY, June 8, 2020
Dear Shaoping! I can’t help remembering your email photo of your Easton home with a green bike in the background that your son was using to commute back and forth to Cambridge… It resonated in my brain because I too commuted via an antique green bike (mine an English Phillips) bought from Railway express for $15, its handlebar broken in half (which I managed to braze together in an imperfect learning experience) that I used for biking from Watertown, first to Cambridge High and Latin, and then later to Harvard (in both good and not quite so good weather). I suspect that your photo brought back warm memories of happy family times, memories forever bonding you, Len and your son together.
I look forward to reading the 1 July obituary along (hopefully) with some mention of Len’s work, spanning a wide range from graphic art on through literature, and religion. The term Renaissance Man is overworked, but surely Len was one... I regret we never had the opportunity to explore more of our common interests (and differences) in greater depth. I will continue to miss him and wish we could have had more time together.
Neal Eddy, Rossmoor, Walnut Creek, CA
I was so sorry to learn about Lenny’s passing away. He was such a bright and nice person. I found this picture from our yearbook and thought his family would like to see it. My condolences to them May Lenny Rest In Peace.
On June 3, 2020, I received Shaoping’s email, informing me that Len had passed away. All of sudden, the words on the screen disappeared. In a moment of stillness, the only image that appeared in front of me was that graceful gentleman in a well-fit suit, who smiled delightfully at Shaoping at their wedding, and Shaoping smiled happily back at him.