The Penn community is using the recent death of Charles “Larry” Moses as an opportunity to reflect upon his past 16 years of service to the University.
Moses, the former program coordinator for the Office of Student Affairs/Fraternity Sorority Life, died Sunday evening following a long battle with cardiac health issues. He was 60.
Moses suffered a heart attack in March and remained on disability leave at Penn until his death.
Students and staff have credited Moses with leaving an influential, lasting legacy behind on campus.
“I didn’t realize what he did until his presence was gone,” said College senior Yaadira Brown, president of Penn’s chapter of Delta Sigma Theta. “He was big on Greek life in general, but especially black Greek life — trying to find a home for us at an Ivy League university like Penn.”
University Chaplain and 2000 College graduate Chaz Howard, who was a brother of Alpha Phi Alpha when he was an undergraduate, had the opportunity to come to know Moses as both a student and staff member.
“My parents died when I was young, and in many ways Larry was like a father figure to me,” said Howard, who visited Moses frequently after he was moved to Park Pleasant Nursing Home in Philadelphia this summer. “He always referred to us as ‘his kids,’ and in a lot of ways that was true.”
Howard added, though, that some of Moses’ proudest moments came when he was away from Penn’s campus.
Moses was an avid soccer player throughout his youth, qualifying for the Olympic Trials in 1970. He also had a great love for theater and performance, acting in and directing hundreds of plays and films over the years.
In 1984, he directed “Purlie Victorious,” an award-winning work that was performed at the Philadelphia Black Theater Festival.
Moses’ involvement in theater spilled over into his work at the University, as he took an active role every year in organizing the annual Multicultural Greek Council Penn Relays Weekend Step Show.
Though Moses graduated from Wilmington College, his younger sister, Ann, said that “he had so much Penn spirit that you’d be hard-pressed to meet him and not think the University of Pennsylvania was his alma mater.”
When Moses died on Sunday, Ann added, he was wearing a Penn sweatshirt and had a Penn blanket by his side.
Former MGC President Jared Barchus, a 2012 College graduate, had the opportunity to visit Moses one final time on graduation day in May.
“He started crying because he’d known all of us since we were sophomores, and to see all of us in our graduation robes was a lot for him,” Barchus said. “That was a really emotional moment for everyone.”
Others have spent time since Moses’ death reminiscing about the special interest he took in their lives.
Du Bois College House Dean Trish Williams said Moses formed a special bond with her 17-year-old grandson, Hasani, who has Asperger’s syndrome and lives with her at Penn.
“Larry really stepped in and was not only a friend to me, but also to my grandson,” she said. “He was one of the few people I could just go to and speak with on campus, and I’ll miss him immensely.”
College senior Aaron Landrum, the Guide Right co-chair of Penn’s chapter of Kappa Alpha Psi, recalled the first time he met Moses as a freshman on campus. Landrum was making his way down Locust Walk when Moses stopped him, recognizing him as the younger brother of Phillip Landrum, a 2010 Wharton graduate and former Kappa Alpha Psi president.
“He told me that no matter what it was that I needed, he’d be there to help,” Landrum said. “I can’t really remember anybody just stopping me on the street and doing that.”
Students who worked with Moses praised his willingness to make himself available around the clock, regardless of what was going on in his life outside of Penn.
“Larry was always a mentor to me,” College senior and Interfraternity Council President David Shapiro said. “The first time I met him, he gave me his personal phone number and said, ‘If you ever have any questions or need to talk, no matter what time of day it is, call me or text me.’”
“If I’d try to book a room for an event, it’d sometimes take three weeks. If I asked Larry to help me with it, it’d take three days,” College senior and MGC President Jacqueline Baron added. “He could literally just snap his fingers and it would work.”
Baron is currently communicating with various staff members about planning a school-wide memorial service for Moses. While details on the memorial have not yet been finalized, Ann Moses said she expects it to take place sometime following homecoming weekend.
In addition, the Office of the Chaplain, Counseling and Psychological Services, and the Office of the Vice Provost for University Life, among others, will be on hand at noon Tuesday in Houston Hall’s Class of 1949 Auditorium to provide support to students.
“We’ve been overwhelmed by how the Penn family has taken care of Larry and has been there for us throughout all of this,” Ann said. “He had a huge heart and was always trying to help other people, and I think all of this support shows what an impact he’s had.”
Kate Gheen contributed reporting to this article.
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