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Ohio University mourns distinguished engineering alumnus, university volunteer, benefactor

Colleen Carow | Aug 30, 2018
Cruse Moss

Ohio University mourns distinguished engineering alumnus, university volunteer, benefactor

Colleen Carow | Aug 30, 2018

Ohio University is mourning the loss of alumnus, volunteer, board member, and engineer Cruse Watson Moss, BSISE '48, HON '85, who passed away in Ann Arbor, Michigan, on Tues., August 21.

Born in Kent, Ohio, on April 7, 1926, Moss built an esteemed automotive engineering career of more than 30 years in tactical vehicles, transit buses and commercial truck and farm equipment. He and his wife, Virginia “Ginny” Patton Morris, were stalwart OHIO supporters for decades through board service and charitable giving.

“Cruse Moss was the perfect model for Ohio University graduates to follow: accomplished, gracious, generous and loyal to his alma mater,” said President M. Duane Nellis. “We are deeply grateful for his example, and we are greatly saddened by his passing.”

Russ College Dean Dennis Irwin called Moss one of his earliest and strongest supporters when he was a new dean in 2002.

“Cruse was ready with advice and resources and was continually, over many years, making contacts for our faculty researchers with aerospace, biomedical and software businesses in Michigan, his adopted home,” Irwin remarked. “He and Ginny were gracious hosts who welcomed me into their home on numerous occasions – and the topic of conversation was always about how to forward the interests of the Russ College. He was a great friend and ally, and I will miss him deeply,” said Irwin, noting that Moss kept up status calls with him several times a year.  

Moss, who served in the U.S. Naval Reserves from 1944-1946, began his career with Kaiser-Jeep Corporation, ultimately becoming vice president in 1960 and president of the automotive division in 1965. When American Motors purchased Kaiser-Jeep in 1970, he formed AM General Corporation and served as its first president. Jeep developed its Wagoneer into the first sport utility vehicle (SUV) under his leadership, and AM General became the world’s largest manufacturer of tactical wheeled vehicles with factories worldwide.

Moss subsequently served as president and CEO of White Motor Corporation, a Fortune 500 company and a leading worldwide manufacturer of heavy-duty commercial trucks, farm equipment and materials handling equipment, later becoming chairman of the board. In 1981, after the sale of White Motor Corporation to Volvo, he devoted his time to the growth and development of General Automotive Corporation, which he founded and which became the largest bus manufacturers in the world, and Patton Corporation, which he also founded. He retired in 1996.

At OHIO, Moss and his wife made charitable gifts across campus, from the Russ College, including establishing in 1991 a dean’s professorship and later contributions that enabled the long-running Electric Bobcat racecar team; to the Voinovich Center; to athletics; the Marching 110; and a Beta Theta Pi scholarship; among other areas.

They also created a Moss-Cutler Scholarship as part of the Cutler Scholars Program, OHIO’s premier merit scholarship program that provides four years of tuition and enrichment. The recipient was Natalie Kruse-Daniels, BCSE '04, who went on to receive international fellowships and return to her alma mater as a faculty member in the Voinovich School of Leadership and Public Affairs.

“Not only was my scholarship the deciding factor in my choice to study at Ohio University and the Russ College of Engineering and Technology, but it also opened the door to mentorship from Cruse,” Kruse-Daniels said. “He was always interested in both my professional and personal progress. He invested in me and in OHIO with his time and dedication, and he helped guide the course of my studies and my career. I’m forever indebted to him for his support and his confidence in me.”

Moss also served as a trustee of the Ohio University Foundation Board from 1964-1976 and 1998-2004; and was a lifetime member of the Russ College Board of Visitors. He was a seasoned fund raising advocate, serving during the Bicentennial Campaign as chair of the Russ College’s major gifts committee and on the Voinovich Center’s campaign committee, and during the Third Century Campaign on the leadership gifts committee. A Russ College distinguished graduate, he was named Ohio University Alumnus of the Year for 1994, and received the Achievement in Business Award in 1990 and the Ohio University Medal of Merit for 1967.

Vice President of Development Emeritus Jack Ellis said Moss’s advice influenced his leadership role at OHIO over decades.

“I knew Cruse for nearly 50 years. I was a new employee at Ohio University, and we both were alumni of the same university, ‘Ohio U.,’” he said. “He gave me valuable advice in my career of over 30 years at the University. His legacy will continue through his family and friends, who were touched and inspired by his strong faith and abundant sense of humanity,” Ellis said.

Moss was also a member of many national organizations and corporations, including the Society of Automotive Engineers, Tau Beta Pi, the Economic Club of Detroit, the Young Presidents Organization (“YPO”), Beta Theta Pi Fraternity and the VP Club of Ann Arbor. He also served as chairman of the council of trustees for the Association of the United States Army.

Fellow board member Charles “Chuck” Stuckey, Jr., noted Moss’s efforts to continue the vision of Russ College namesakes Fritz, BSEE '42, HON '75, and Dolores. “Cruse and Ginny were not only close friends of the Russ College but were very close friends of Fritz and Dolores Russ as well. Cruse was very supportive of the Russ College and felt the Russ gift was being used in a way that would have pleased the Russes,” Stuckey said. “We have lost a loyal friend of the College and the University as well as a great personal friend. He will be greatly missed,” he added.

A memorial service will be held at First Presbyterian Church, 1432 Washtenaw, Ann Arbor, on Mon., Sept. 10, at 2 p.m. Memorial contributions may be made to First Presbyterian Church or the Beta Theta Pi Fraternity Scholarship Fund. Condolences may be added to the Dignity Memorial website.