Publishing Pioneer Leaves Legacy of Kindness

Surely goodness and mercy will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever. - Psalm 23:6

Jim Moss fought a good fight, in illness, and in life and in philanthropy. A son of the south born in 1942, Moss took to sports, music and academics to rise to the occasion of a rich life. And, his contemporaries spoke to this on high during a memorial service held for him a week after his passing at Safe Harbors of the Hudson on January 31, 2015.  

I proudly served on two boards with Jim Moss. I was in the room with him as recently as a month or two ago, while he actively battled a recurrence of throat cancer. I had no idea he was so sick; he was still showing up for meetings. He was still vocal despite tremendous strain. His spirit was high for his community, Newburgh especially. He was a mentor; donating his time and expertise to many, myself included.  So many have come forward acknowledging his kindness and commitment. 

Jim had recently become introspective after a life of tireless philanthropy and ceaseless effort. He was taking classes at the School of Practical Philosophy on sustainable happiness. He told his children he was damn proud of them, and rightfully so.  

At a memorial held at Safe Harbors of the Hudson, a board he was currently chairing, family and friends shared wonderful stories of Jim and an obituary that formalizes his many accomplishments. It will be an honor to share them here. 

"The man had swagger," said his son Brad. He alluded to the life that Jim provided his family, a life Jim didn't have growing up. "My Dad didn't talk about where he came from all that much, but he was from humble upbringings. A time without TV, mass communication, and limited opportunities for African Americans. He had the wherewithal to achieve. He came so far. He just wanted his next generation to do better than he did. I have more resolve than ever." 

"Be clear of what brings you joy," his daughter Kelsey said. "Take concrete steps to fulfill it."

~ Obituary ~

James A. (Jim) Moss, one of the nation's first African-American publishers of a general circulation daily newspaper—The Times Herald Record of Middletown, NY and the Centre Daily Times of State College, PA—passed away on Tuesday, January 20, 2015 at his home in Newburgh, NY. He was 72.

Moss, the first of three sons to Christine Anderson and James Moss, was born December 24, 1942 in Norfolk, VA and was raised in Portsmouth, VA. He graduated from I.C. Norcom High School Class of 1961. Moss attended Howard University in Washington, DC and graduated from The American University in 1967 with degrees in government and public administration. 

Upon graduation, Moss taught in the Washington, DC school system for two years. He then transitioned to a position as school services manager at the Washington Post Company in 1969. That was the beginning of his life-long career in the newspaper publishing business.  Within his 11 years at the Post, Moss was on the business side of the paper in sales. He was promoted to employment manager, to assistant to the vice presidents for administration and for sales, and to sales manager for retail and general advertising. 

Moss continually sought ways to enlarge his vision and explored possibilities available to him in the world of publishing. In 1979, Moss completed a 14-week program for management development at Harvard University's Graduated School of Business, and in 1995 he completed the advanced executive program at the Newspaper Management Center at Northwestern University. 

In 1980-81, Moss was the director of advertising for Black Enterprise magazine in New York City. One year later, he transitioned back into the newspaper industry as vice president and classified advertising director for Knight-Ridder Newspaper Sales in New York City. He held that post until 1987 when he was named assistant to the president and general manager of the Miami Herald (Fla). Two years later, Knight-Ridder promoted him to president and publisher or the 25,000 circulation Centre Daily Times. 

Moss and his family were contributing members to the State College community, serving on many non-profit board during the six years they called the Happy Valley their home. Most notable was Moss' service as United Way campaign chair in 1994, where the campaign posted an 8.3 percent increase over the previous year and was the largest increase of any equally sized United Way in the state of Pennsylvania. In addition to the United Way, Moss was a member of the State College Chamber of Commerce, Pennsylvania Newspaper Publishers Association, Center for the Performing Arts and was advisor to the Knight Foundation. 

Moss' philanthropic leadership roles transferred with him to the Hudson Valley region of New York in January 1996, when Moss became publisher of the Times Herald-Record, one of the largest community newspapers owned by Ottaway Newspaper, Inc. At that time, he was on of a handful of black publishers of major newspapers in the country. In January 2007, Moss retired as Chairman of the Times Herald-Record and Chief Franchise Officer for Ottaway Media Group, Inc., a division of Dow Jones & Company. 

Until his retirement, Moss served on the board of directors for the National Association of Minority Media Executives, the board the New York Newspaper Publishers Association, and the board of directors for the Newspaper Association of America. After his retirement, Moss remained active in the community on the board of directors for Orange County United Way (past president), the New York State United Way, Mid-Hudson Pattern for Progress, Habitat for Humanity, the Susie Reizod Foundation and Safe Harbors. He was also a founding member of the Community Foundation of Orange County, founding member of the Newburgh Professional and Business Association, and board member of the Orange County Citizens Foundation. 

Following his 38 years in the news industry, Moss turned his attention to, and invested in, the redevelopment of the community where he resided by birthing a life-long dream. With his son Bradley working alongside him, Moss opened "Christine's", a soul-food restaurant named after his mother, on Broadway, the main thoroughfare in Newburgh, New York.

Moss courageously fought throat cancer for nearly 13 years. The battle ended on Tuesday, January 20, 2015 at his home in Newburgh, NY. 

Moss is survived by his son and daughter, Bradley James and Kelsey Christina Moss, from his marriage with his former wife, Anne Palmer; son, Gregory Moss Whitehead, from his marriage with his Cecilia Bernard Coates; brother Reginald D. Moss; nephews, Brandon and Jarett Moss; several cousins and former wife, Marion Wright. He was predeceased by his youngest brother, Dennis N. Moss. 

Memorial Contributions (tax deductible) may be made to: James A. Moss Memorial Fund c/o the Community Foundation of Orange and Sullivan

Article posted by Stefanie Pearl