LJWorld.com weblogs Musings
This summer there was a notice in the LJWorld online that a memorial service would be planned for Byron Moats and his wife, Nancy. Mr. Moats and his wife were killed in a car accident. Mr. Moats had only recently retired from a long and successful teaching career. When I heard the news of their deaths, I thought that the name Byron Moats sounded familiar. When I read that he had recently retired from Oak Park High School everything fell into place. Oak Park High School is in Kansas City, Mo., near Gladstone.I graduated from Oak Park High School in 1978. My K-12 school experience was rather chaotic and dysfunctional. I went to seven schools in two states. When it was time to graduate, I was short by either a quarter or half a credit. School officials let me go through the graduation ceremony with the rest of my class, but I had to take a class that summer to make up that credit shortfall. That's when I met Mr. Moats.As might be expected, I was not terribly happy to be stuck in a summer class when I was supposed to be done with school altogether. I thought it was a "pud" class with ridiculously easy work. But Mr. Moats made that class fun. I think he realized how awkward it might be for me to be there and he seemed to go out of his way to make me feel comfortable. At some point, he and I discussed the end of the class. I told him that I was sure that on the last day of class I would be presented with my high school diploma amid much fanfare. Mr. Moats told me that actually my diploma would be mailed to me. I was horribly disappointed and it showed. Mr. Moats took action.Unbeknownst to me, but known to all of my classmates, Mr. Moats arranged for me to receive my diploma on the last day of class. On the final day of class he asked me to go to the office with him. He didn't tell me why. I thought there was probably some paperwork that needed to be done. But instead, Mr. Moats had arranged for the school principal, assistant principal and a few other school officials to present my diploma to me with much pomp and circumstance. They presented the diploma to me, shook my hand and then clapped for me as if I had just won the Nobel Prize. I was thrilled and thanked Mr. Moats for making that happen. I couldn't believe he had gone to so much trouble for me. But that's the kind of person that he was. I don't know if Mr. Moats would have remembered me. But even though it has been nearly 30 years since I graduated from high school, I remember him and am deeply saddened that he is gone from this world. I wish that I could have told him that even with my inauspicious K-12 career, I managed to go to college eventually and currently hold a Master's degree in Higher Education Administration. I would have been proud for him to know that. Mine is just one story. I imagine there are many others from people who were touched by his kindness. The world is a lesser place without you, Mr. Moats, but many of us are much better people because you touched our lives. No doubt, heaven has a special place for you. Rest in Peace.