Hartwig Moss III

Hartwig Moss III

Died January 11, 2014

Hartwig Moss III, universally known as Harpo, died on January 11, 2014 after an extended illness. Harpo’s life was characterized by activity, energy, and dedication. He grew up in New Orleans, where he graduated from the Isidore Newman School. At Yale he played intramural basketball and golf for Pierson and captained the golf team in his senior year. He majored in history, worked with WYBC, the Yale radio station, and was a member of Phi Gamma Delta. A classmate described him as “a gallant, positive, and energetic force in our college class… [who was] des tined to return to New Orleans to become a leader.”

After service as a Navy lieutenant, Harpo fulfilled this prophecy by returning home to become immersed in the life of the city, the New Orleans Jewish community, and his family’s business legacy. His great grandfather had founded a property and casualty insurance company, Hartwig Moss Insurance, Ltd. Harpo worked in this business for 45 years until his death, starting as an insurance agent and rising to become president, and finally C.E.O. and chairman of the board. In addition to learning and eventually running the family business, Harpo found time and energy to devote to his community, including service on the Governing Board of the Touro Infirmary and as president of the Jewish Community Center. After Hurricane Katrina he took on the mission of doing what he could to promote the rebuilding of the city. He worked with non-profit agencies and challenged the Federal Emergency Management Agency to expand its reimbursement of rebuilding activities.

In his community, he was valued as a man of great integrity, “ with a firm grip and an even firmer conviction to do what was right.” He maintained the friendship and respect of both business colleagues and competitors. His wife, Nancy, described him as a “protector of everyone whose life he touched.”

Harpo lived long enough to see his children married, to have four grandchildren, and to have his son, Robby, go to work in the family firm as an insurance agent. He leaves many people who will miss him greatly and whose lives were immeasurably enriched by him.

Dodd Fischer remembers: Harpo was my sophomore roommate, along with Peter Rose, in Pierson, if my recollection holds. He was always the gentleman, handsome, kind, considerate, outgoing. His personality could fill a room in a minute. He was from New Orleans, and returned there to enter the family insurance brokerage business, then led it for the remainder of his life. He died 2014, maybe of complications of MS.

Robert Leich remembers: “ Harpo” was a fraternity brother and great friend. We drifted apart over the years after Yale, but had a nice long catch up call at the time of our 45th reunion, at which time he promised to make it to our 50th. Alas, that was not to be. I have countless Harpo stories but the one that always makes me smile involves the time the two of us coached an inner-city basketball team. We’d practice the teenaged kids one evening a week and then have a league game two days later. We decided early on that everyone that came to practice would get to play, but then modified that to anyone who showed up would get into the game. At one point Harpo substituted a short slender kid who sported the beginnings of a goatee. This kid, who neither of us had seen before, proceeded to drill three long range jump shots (they would have been 3 point shots had that been invented), at which time the opposing coach called the Referee over to lodge a protest. The age of the participants was to be capped at 15, and it turns out that this “ boy” was 24 and played for the “Harlem Stars,” a feeder team to the famous “Harlem Globetrotters!” Hey Ref…we tried. On the way back to campus (we walked), we’d stop in a night club to hear some jazz, and would be the only white folks in the place, and think nothing of it. I will really miss not having Harpo with us at our 50th.