Harold Moser leaves a lasting legacy in the area
December 26, 2001 — Source: Naperville Sun, The (IL) — Author: Kathy Millen
During his teen-age years, Harold Moser wanted to become a priest.
Apparently God had other plans for him.
Following his graduation from eighth grade at SS Peter and Paul School in Naperville, Moser attended St. Lawrence Academy in Fond du Lac, Wis. During his sophomore year, he was injured during a basketball game, triggering a bout of osteomyelitis (inflammation of the bone marrow) in his right leg.
He came back home and spent 10 months recovering in a local hospital.
The disease stiffened his hips, making it difficult for him to walk.
Rather than slow him down, Moser's disability motivated him to succeed.
As it turned out, his success was the area's success.
Moser died Dec. 17 at Edward Hospital.
He was 87.
Founder of The Naperville Sun, Moser Lumber and the Macom Corp., Moser almost single-handedly turned the small farming town of Naperville into an upscale community that boasts more than 130,000 residents.
His company has also played a part in helping to develop Plainfield.
Macom Corp. is developing the Farmstone Ridge subdivision, located at Naperville-Plainfield Road and 127th Street.
Moser's brother, Jim Moser, founded Moser Enterprises in Naperville, a company that has brought several subdivisions to the Plainfield area.
Jim Moser passed away several years ago, said Art Zwemke, president and chief executive officer of Moser Enterprises.
Moser Enterprises recently gained village approval for the Grande Park subdivision, which will be located west of Heggs Road and south of 127th Street.
The company also developed the Century Trace subdivision, located east of Normantown Road and north of 119th Street, and the Harvest Glen subdivision located south of 135th Street and west of Route 30.
Harold Moser was many things to many people, including builder, land developer, civic leader, philanthropist and businessman.
He is credited with developing half of Naperville's residential communities and a number in Plainfield.
"I'm very critical of myself," Moser once said of his success.
"I believe you've got to be aggressive in every facet of life.
Competition is a healthy part of life.
It will bring out the best in you."
Born on his grandfather's homestead near Ft. Wayne, Ind., on Nov. 30, 1914, Moser was the oldest of four children.
His parents, Dr. Edward Moser and his wife, Cecelia, moved to Naperville when Harold was 2 years old.
Most of the 3,000 residents at that time lived on farms.
"Doc" Moser became the town's leading physician.
After abandoning his plans for the priesthood, Harold Moser finished school at Naperville High School.
He spent the next two years struggling through classes at North Central College before, bored and restless, turning his energies toward journalism.
Dr. Moser gave his son the money to start The Naperville Sun in 1935. But when he realized the newspaper business wasn't for him, Harold Moser sold the publication to his friend, Harold White, the following year.
In 1941 "Doc" Moser purchased the old Kluckhohn coal yard on Spring Avenue in Naperville for his son to run.
As the demand for coal dwindled, Harold Moser started a lumber business to meet the growing need for housing following World War II. During that time, Moser helped many young couples make the down payment on their first house.
He and his wife, Margaret (Donovan), married in 1949. They lived most of their married life in Cress Creek in Naperville, developed by Moser in the early 1960s. It was one of the first subdivisions in the country built around a golf course.
"It was just an idea I had and I liked the challenge.
And it was a big challenge," Moser said on the 25th anniversary of the development in 1988.
"It was quite a venture and quite a gamble back then.
It was rough going at first.
Naperville was still somewhat of a farm town back then."
In 1967, Moser suffered a stroke.
He decided to sell his lumber business to his brother, Jim, and devote himself entirely to land development.
His first development consisted of 62 lots north of Jefferson Avenue near the DuPage River in Naperville.
He called it the Forest Preserve subdivision because of its proximity to the Burlington Forest Preserve.
His appetite whetted, he continued to buy property, ultimately giving birth to a huge number of subdivisions in the area.
Moser was one of the first developers in the country to put community swimming pools and tennis clubs in his subdivisions.
He also donated land for parks and schools long before it became a city requirement to do so.
From the start, he avoided putting up cookie-cutter tract housing by enlisting local contractors to build his houses.
He planted trees on all his parkways.
Moser's philanthropy is well-known.
He has given millions of dollars to a variety of causes.
He also has given countless hours of service to financial, religious and educational institutions.
Moser retired as chairman of his Macom company in 1993, selling the business to his nephew and partner, Paul Lehman who had been president since 1991. Lehman said his uncle was a strong influence in his life.
"He was a man who had a lot of determination," said Lehman, who began working for Moser in 1974.
"It was very hard to get him down.
He was very positive on life and very strong on conviction and he believed that things could be accomplished.
That was part of his personal life, too.
He attacked life with zest and overcame any obstacles that were put in his way."
Moser is survived by his wife, Margaret; sisters-in-law, Gertrude Welch and Sandy Moser; brother-in-law, Joseph Donovan; 20 nieces and nephews and his caregiver, Elenita Librojo.
Harold Moser as a young man.