If my father had had a Facebook page, that would have been his daily status. Russell Leon Mosier, our kind, resourceful, and relentlessly cheerful father, died peacefully on Thursday, May 22, 2014, while in hospice at the Coronado Home in Phoenix, Arizona. He was 80 years old.
Russ, son of Luther and Nellie (Morrison) Mosier, was born in Richmond, Indiana, and raised in Lynn (Washington Township, Randolph County), where he played trumpet, baseball, and basketball in high school; listened to Bix Beiderbecke and other jazz musicians launched by Richmond’s Gennett Records; worked at his father’s “Hoosier Pete” gasoline service station and on the family farm at Snow Hill; and watched Pennsylvania Railroad trains pass through town on their way to Richmond or Mackinaw City, Michigan. A 1956 graduate of Purdue University, he majored in Industrial Education and made his career selling earthmoving equipment (first at Caterpillar Tractor Co., in Peoria, Illinois, and later, at Empire Southwest in Mesa, Arizona). His loyalty to Empire—40 years of service to the company—is surpassed only by his 59-year marriage to his college sweetheart, Ruth Rodgers Mosier, who survives him.
At Empire Southwest, coworkers admired our father because he was a successful salesperson who was exceptionally considerate of others. He knew every piece of machinery down to its smallest part, and communicated clearly and easily with everyone in the company—parts and service people, mechanics and salesmen alike. Says his longtime colleague and friend Pat Cusack, “Your dad was the head of an outstanding group of parts and service salespeople who were outstanding because of the way he led them. I’ve always said, if I were starting a Caterpillar franchise today, your dad is the first person I’d call.”
Cusack credits Dad for convincing copper miners at Twin Buttes, south of Tucson, Arizona, to switch from traditional shovels and trucks to Empire-provided scrapers. The $20 million boost in business—one of Empire’s biggest projects—was a turning point for the company, he says.
This praise squares with the impression Dad made on his three children: Andrew (Andy), Elizabeth (Libby), and Paul. We remember our father as a lifelong aviation, railroad and classic car enthusiast who loved building model planes and cars. He could fix anything from a broken fence to a household appliance on the fritz. Like a household elf, he’d restore order while we slept: oiling and shaping my softball glove into a perfect pocket, patching Paul’s deflated basketball, checking the oil and tire pressure and cleaning the bugs off the windshield of Andy’s car. He took us on Sunday morning seven-mile bike rides along the Arizona Canal, and cooked us breakfast over a grill he’d made from coals inside a coffee can. Dad’s innate curiosity about how things worked inspired wonderful inventions: a kite dangling a soldier and parachute, a kid-sized car consisting of a wagon propelled by a lawn mower engine, a homemade bike rack for the car, a drawer dollhouse that slid under my bed, a customized animation stand for Andy’s early cartoons, a design for an automatic shifting bicycle transmission that he drew on a memo pad and tested in the backyard.
A born tinkerer, our father raised three children who became artists and writers. Our belief in the value of making things comes from his lifelong example of industry, modesty, and pleasure in solving a problem. Despite his professional and personal success, Dad always championed the underdog, evidence of his optimism and generous spirit that made him so beloved by so many.
My brothers and I are grateful to the skilled doctors and nurses at St. Joseph’s Hospital, who aggressively treated Dad’s pneumonia; when his illness progressed despite their interventions, they helped guide us to a gentler course that honored Dad’s wish for a natural, peaceful death. Among the many small blessings that made these stressful circumstances bearable, we credit Hospice of the Valley, which opened a door for our father at Coronado Home and settled him into a beautiful private room where staff members bathed him, soothed him, and allowed us to be with him until Dad was ready to go.
Russ Mosier is survived by his wife, Ruth Rodgers Mosier of Phoenix; his brother Melvin Leroy Mosier (Charmain) of Indianapolis; sons Andrew Rodgers Mosier (Janette) of Tucson and Paul Stuart Mosier (Keri) of Phoenix; daughter Elizabeth Ann Mosier (Christopher Mills) of St. Davids, Pennsylvania; and six grandchildren: Melanie Mosier, Alison Mosier-Mills, Catherine Mosier-Mills, Nicholas Mosier, Eleri Mosier, and Harmony Mosier.
Donations in our father’s memory may be made to Hospice of the Valley, 1510 E. Flower Street, Phoenix, Arizona, 85014; (602) 530-6900; www.hov.org.