Categorized | Obituaries

Obituaries 1/9/14

Posted on 09 January 2014

Donald B. Moser

Longtime magazine journalist and former Smithsonian Magazine editor Don Moser died of cardio-pulmonary arrest at his home in Sag Harbor, December 8. He had had Parkinson’s disease for many years.

Mr. Moser was born in Cleveland, Ohio, in 1932.He was a budding naturalist, falconer, and lover of everything out of doors. He became a lifelong avid birder, amateur astronomer, fly fisherman, and fly rod builder, spending much time with epoxies and varnishes in the basement of his Washington, DC, home trying to avoid what he called “the cat hair problem.”

Mr. Moser studied at Heidelberg College in Tiffin, Ohio, leaving after his sophomore year when his tuition money ran out. He then worked as a fire lookout for the US Forest Service in Idaho and Wyoming while waiting to be drafted. When that happened in 1953, he had wanted to see combat. But the Korean War had ended, and instead he spent two years, he said “pushing pencils, peeling potatoes and driving trucks” at Fort Benjamin Harrison, Indiana, and Fort Benning, Georgia. In the mid 1950s on the GI bill, he studied at Ohio University and worked summers as a seasonal Park Ranger in Grand Teton and the Olympic National Parks. After graduating in 1957, Mr. Moser got a fellowship to study writing with novelist and Pulitzer Prize winning author Wallace Stegner at Stanford University. In 1962, Mr. Moser’s first book, “The Peninsula,” photos and text about Olympic National Park, was published by The Sierra Club.

Mr. Moser later attended the University of Sydney in Australia as a Fulbright Scholar. There he worked part time as an editor for Angus and Robertson Publishers. In 1961, he was hired as a military affairs reporter for LIFE Magazine. He lived in New York City. He took a six-month leave of absence from LIFE to work as a special assistant to the Secretary of the Interior Stuart Udall. On his return he became assistant sports and adventure editor. He spent days traveling though the south covering a then-aspiring boxer, Cassius Clay.

In 1965, he became Los Angeles Bureau chief covering the Watts Riot, the Alaska Earthquake, and Hollywood. He left LA to become Life’s Asia Bureau Chief in Hong Kong, devoting much of his time to covering the war in Vietnam. His work in Southeast Asia was later recognized along with Stanley Karnow, David Halberstam, Richard Harwood and Norman Mailer in a collected volume, Reporting Vietnam: American Journalism 1959-1969, published by the Library of America. When LIFE folded in 1972, Mr. Moser was an assistant managing editor.

Mr. Moser went on to write a Newbury Prize nominated semi-autobiographical novel, “A Heart to the Hawks,” and three Time Life Books, “The Snake River Country,”“Central American Jungles,” and “The China Burma India Theater.” He wrote about the Philippine Islands, the Big Thicket of East Texas and Portugal’s Azore Islands for National Geographic Magazine.

In 1973, between the novel and the Snake River, Mr. Moser met his future wife, and bird watching companion Penny Lee Ward of Shabbona, Illinois. She was a farm girl and not afraid of ticks. They had their first date in at Dick’s Country Inn in Hayfield, Iowa, where they drank beer, ate pork tenderloin sandwiches, and listened to a jukebox playing Loudon Wainwright Junior’s 1972 hit, “Dead Skunk in the Middle of the Road.” Don and Penny married in East Hampton in 1975.They lived in both Washington, DC and Sag Harbor.

In 1977, he joined the staff of Smithsonian Magazine as an executive editor. When founding editor Edward K. Thompson retired in 1981, Mr. Moser became editor. “Don ran the magazine in the independent tradition of H.L. Mencken at the American Mercury and Harold Ross at the New Yorker,” wrote the magazine’s science editor John P. Wiley, Jr., “his subjective judgment, and his alone, determined what would run. No committees, no voting. Judging by the results — two million subscribers, a National Magazine Award and a stack of other prizes — it was a formula for success.”

After his death, longtime Smithsonian associate editor Lucinda Moore reminisced: “While Don was in charge, we not only benefited from his editorial genius, but from his fair-minded, even-keeled approach to management. I can’t recall a single display of egotism from Don, even when egos flared all around him. I will never forget his kindness, integrity and gentle leadership. He will live forever in my memory as an exceptional person, whole balance, judgment and wisdom set the standard by which all managers are measured.” Current editor for museums Beth Py-Lieberman called him “The gentlest of gentlemen.”

Mr. Moser retired in 2001 to fish and fool around the Eastern End of Long Island. He had once, as a park ranger, pulled a moose out of river ice in the Tetons. And so in later years his wife recruited him to become a rescue/transport volunteer for the Wildlife Rescue Center of the Hamptons, a wildlife hospital in Hampton Bays. He was quite good with swans, Mrs. Moser said, even when they bit him. Baby possums made him laugh. He’d had a pet rat as a child.

Moser was preceded in death by his parents, Donald Lyman and Katherine McHugh Moser of Ohio, and his brother, Lieutenant Colonel Mark Moser of Raleigh, North Carolina. He is survived by his wife, Penny, brothers Gilbert of Sharonville, Ohio, and Dennis of Chesterfield, Missouri, and many terrific nieces and nephews. Mr. Moser was cremated and his ashes will eventually be scattered in the Gulf Stream, which he thought would be a good way to travel. A gathering of friends and family will be held in spring or summer in Washington, DC. Memorial contributions may be made to the American Kestrel Project, The Peregrine Fund, 5668 West Flying Hawk Lane, Boise, Idaho, 83709.


Mary Ann Alioto

Mary Ann (Griffin) Alioto,  77, of Sag Harbor died peacefully at home on December 20, after a long battle with lung cancer. She is survived by her second husband of 25 years Vincent.

She was born in Brooklyn on March 19, 1936 to Mary and Joseph Paulinski. Mrs. Alioto became the big sister to Jeanette (Nilsson) and Joseph as they lived their childhood on the Northside.

Mrs. Alioto retired from Southampton (Todds) Nursing Home where she worked with her future daughter-in-law Rosemary in the Recreation Department. A devoted grandmother to Michaela and Sean Griffin, and Erin Connolly-Griffin, she loved to spoil them with gifts and crafts she made. She cherished the time she spent with them and her family during trips and holidays, said the family.

As a resident of Sag Harbor and Southampton over many years, Mrs. Alioto touched the heart of many people, said the family, and truly cared about the lives of everyone she knew. The care and concern her fiends showed her toward the end of her life was heart warming and her family is eternally grateful to everyone.

Mrs. Alioto was the wife of the late Harry D. Griffin and is preceded in death by her first born son, Terrance Griffin. She is survived by her sons John Griffin and his wife Rosemary, Timothy Griffin, her best friend and sister Jeanette Nilsson, as well as many nieces and nephews and their families.

A funeral service was held Saturday, January 4, at O’Connell Funeral Home in Southampton. A private burial will be in the spring.

Donations in Mrs. Alioto’s name may be made to: St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital, 501 St. Jude Place, Memphis, TN 38105.


Mary D. Schaefer

Mary D. Schaefer, a summer resident of Sag Harbor for over 50 years, died at Glen Cove hospital following a short illness on Sunday, December 15. She was 93.

Born in Brooklyn on October 14, 1920, she was the daughter of Melbourne and Mary (Considine) Lucas. The family relocated to Oceanside, Long Island in 1926. Mrs. Schaefer was the second in her family to graduate from Oceanside High School, a school that her offspring attend to this day.

During World War Two Mrs. Schaefer worked retail in Hempstead, Long Island. She married John E. Schaefer on her 25th birthday, October 14, 1945. They spent their first few years of married life living in Rockville Center before moving to Brookville in the 1960s. There, Mrs. Schaefer was a founding member of St Paul the Apostle Roman Catholic Church. The Schaefers bought their Mill Road home in Noyac in 1960 and both became very involved in the Noyac community, including being founding members of the Noyac Golf Club. They also had a home in Hillsboro Beach, Florida.

Mrs. Schaefer was a homemaker who enjoyed her family, gardening, her Golden Retrievers and Collies. Her son James K. Schaefer of Brookville said that his mother particularly enjoyed the beaches in Noyac and Northampton and the winters she spent in Florida.

Besides her son James, she is survived by two other sons, Robert L. Schaefer of Rockville Center and John E. Schaefer of East Quogue and a daughter, Mary E. Stabenfelt of Larkspur, California. She is also survived by four siblings, 12 grandchildren and 15 great-grandchildren. She was predeceased by her husband who died on April 13, 2013.

A funeral service was held at St. Paul the Apostle Roman Catholic Church in Brookville on December 17. Interment was at Calverton National Cemetery. In lieu of flowers, the family suggests that donations be made to Long Island Lutheran High School in Brookville.


Thomas Tomossonie, Sr.

Thomas Tomossonie, Sr., a lifetime resident of Sag Harbor, died at Southampton Hospital on December 30, 2013. He was 69.

Born at Southampton Hospital on January 10, 1944, he was the son of John Tomossonie and the former Bernice Galanti.

He was graduated from Pierson High School and went on to work for the Southampton Town Sanitation Department at the Sag Harbor Transfer Station.

He is survived by his wife, Catherine Atkinson and sons Thomas Tomossonie, Jr. and Dennis Tomossonie, Jr., both of this village. He is also survived by his sister Margie Tomossonie of Sag Harbor and a brother John Tomossonie of East Moriches.

He is also survived by one granddaughter, one niece and one nephew.

Visitation will be Thursday, January 9, 2014 from 7 to 9 p.m. at Yardley and Pino Funeral Home. A graveside service is Friday, January 10, 2014 at 11 a.m. at St Andrews Cemetery. In lieu of flowers, the family suggests that donations be made to the Sag Harbor Volunteer Ambulance Corps.


Sheila Rudansky

Sheila Rudansky, a resident of Springs, East Hampton, died at her home there on October 31, 2013 as the result of complications from Parkinson Disease. She was 85.

Mrs. Rudansky was born in New York City on March 22, 1928, the daughter of David and Mary (Klein) Karp.

Mrs. Rudansky grew up in Hewlett, L.I., and attended New York University. She was a working mother of four children, who owned and operated her own real estate brokerage and then moved into retail sales at Saks Fifth Avenue, Bendels and Bloomingdales.

She is survived by her four children, Donna Bookman of Old Saybrook, Conn., Daniel Rudansky of Sag Harbor, Matthew Rudansky of Manhattan, and Rachel Rudansky of Bridgehampton. She is also survived by grandchildren Rebecca, David, Alison, Andrew, Alexandra and Julia, and great-grandson Zackery Lew.

She is also survived by a brother, Harry Karp, of Red Bank, N.J.

A graveside service was held at the Independent Jewish Cemetery, East Hampton, on November 3, 2013.

The family asks that memorial donations be made to The National Parkinson Foundation, PO Box 5018, Hagerstown, Md., 21741-5018, or




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