James R. Moss, former superintendent of public instruction, died in a one-car accident on I-15 Friday morning, according to the state medical examiner's office.
Highway Patrol officials said the accident occurred at 8:57 a.m. near the Point of the Mountain. The car left the freeway and struck a power pole near 10208 South. Moss was traveling north.Moss, 48, was the father of six boys and one girl and was married to LaVelle Ridd Moss. He was the oldest son in his family.
Moss served as superintendent for four years, resigning on July 1, 1990. He was an attorney, having earned a law degree from Stanford University. He was the former associate director of general education at BYU.
Moss was a state legislator, former professor at Brigham Young University and, most recently, executive director of the Utah Partnership for Education and Economic Development.
A resident of Orem, Moss was elected to the state Legislature in 1982 and served two terms.
Members of the Utah State Board of Education expressed shock when their monthly meeting was interrupted Friday morning by the announcement of Moss' death. "Jim Moss was an intelligent, responsible individual who did fine things to move education forward in Utah," said State Superintendent Jay D. Taggart.
Taggart said many of the things he now is pursuing were started by Moss.
Gov. Norm Bangerter expressed sadness, calling Moss a true friend. "Jim Moss was a man of superior talent, energy and commitment. He was generally well-ahead in his knowledge and understanding of what needed to be done, always having a solid program to accomplish it.
Wm. Rolfe Kerr, Utah commissioner of higher education, said: "I'm personally shattered. It's not only a personal loss, but the state has suffered a loss. Jim had much to give and he had the potential for major contribution through the Utah Partnership for Educational and Economic Development that was yet to be achieved, but was under way."
Moss assumed his position as state superintendent of public instruction on Nov. 1, 1986. Colleagues on Capitol Hill hailed his appointment as a plus for both education and the Legislature, and they heralded his ability to ease friction between the Utah State Board of Education and the Legislature.
At the time it was announced he would become superintendent, Moss was running unopposed for a third term in the state Legislature, District 59. A representative from Orem, Moss was serving as chairman of the House Rules Committee and a member of the Community and Economic Development, Appropriations and State and Local Affairs committees. He was first elected in 1982 and ran unopposed in 1984.
He assumed the superintendent's post as the state board was trying to deal with an ever-growing number of students entering public education and limited state funding in the face of declining federal support. His ability to calm various factions of education, government and business won him kudos from many in the public arena but eventually divided school board members. He left his post on July 1, 1990, to become executive director of the Utah Partnership for Educational and Economic Development.
He served as an associate professor of church history and doctrine at BYU and taught at the J. Reuben Clark Law School.
Moss' penchant for politics and policymaking surfaced early. In 1965, he was elected student body president of the University of Utah. He received a bachelor's degree in political science from the U. in 1966 and later earned a law degree from Stanford University.
An attorney, Moss served on the Utah Judicial Conduct Commission and on the executive committee of the Governor's Commission on Law and Citizenship.
Brigham Young University Provost Bruce Hafen said, "We in the BYU community are greatly saddened by the news of Jim Moss' death. Prior to his service as superintendent of public instruction, Jim was a strong and effective member of the BYU faculty. He combined his understanding of the scholarly world with his understanding of the practical world in a relentless desire to help solve society's problems. He displayed an admirable sense of public service that leaves an example for all education people to use their training in the interest of society rather than serving self interest first."
ol Funk: "We are deep grieved at the news of his death. We considered him to be an able and charismatic leader. He was committed to the cause of education. We extend our sympathy and condolences to his wife and family."
robert garff: 521-6111
known ji for 30 years. first met at u of u. married wife's closest friend. trace career through law school, england, back to legislature, worke hand in glove together on numbweous pieces of legis., includng may ed bills. parliamentarian when i was remember he was one of best infomred, highly articulate legislators we had. called to be parliamentatian after only two years because of his knwoledge. great source of strength to my administration in the house. had a doctorate in law, understood legal ramificaitons as few do. an educator as well. combination was indeed a marvelous contribution to the state. he came to me during hte last part of that tenure knowing that hte state supers' job coming up, talked aobut it. pros and cons, knew it was a very high profile public job that meant would have to take tought stands on difficult issues. predetermined his future. knew it was somewhat risky politcally speaking and for other careers. willing to stand up and be accounted for, williung to lay personal life, repute on line. came through in the past few months. home from mission, comined again with utah partnership. finance com. chairman. soliited hlep to hlp him. more than willing to help him. he'd helped me. forging a new look to education. eti, partnership is whole scenario is high profile issue in ed today. winthin it, alll of major issues of ed. being articulated. discussing future in ref to governance, funding, tracking of students, technology, advance planning, classroom size, etc. project is really in middle of all those issues. jim in sea of controversy. only public ed can bring those things out in people. no major spokesman in pulkic ed. different constituencies, hard ot get a handle. could have left, gone to private business, offers in past few months, chose to tay with public forum as a matter of princpal. felt we could make a difference. forward thinker. killed in the line
great los to state
nolan karras, a britht articulate guy. someone with a large yougn family. considered myself a close personal friend. as supporter. controversial at times, because he was doing his job. supported him under fire.
no specific peice of legislation, but he was an articulate conservative. carry the water on a difficult conservative piece of legislation. kind of guy that could handle himself very well. extremely good debater. well though-out. when he got up to debate something, felt it was a legitimate issue. didn't associate with frivolous issues. would have vied for speaker if contiued.
"He is so young and had such a marvellous future. He was one of the most clear-thinking men that I've ever known. He was dedicated to public service. After he graduated from Stanford Law School, he went to work in the LDS Church Education System, never looking for financial rewards but just wanting to bless people's lives."
"He was a very effective state legislator. He would often call me, so often with the intent of helping other people and blessing their lives. He would be concerned about a group of children that were not be properly educated. He would want to make sure they were given educational opportunities. He was one of the most clear-thinking men I've ever known. I would sometimes call him wanting to know about a particular item or issue. He could do better reserach in a shorter period of time than almost anyeone I've known."
"He was absolutely, explicitly, definably honest. He leaves a young family. The son who bears his name just returned from serving a wonderful mission in Vancover, Canada. His wife, LaVell, is a wonderful woman, very artistic. It's a close family."
"Jim would often clip little articles out of magazines and newspapers and send them to people if he thought they would be of interest to them. He was always thinking of others. He probably had several hundred people in mind at any given time. Just constantly doing those things."
"I first knew him when he was 7 or 8 years old. I was his sunday school teacher when he was just a little boy and later on, he became my hometeaching companion. I've never known him to do a dishonorable thing - ever."
"He always wanted to do what was right. Because he was verbal in that area, i think there were a few who didn't appreciate his personality. He was one of the finest people that I know - and I really knew him. We had talked so long and so often."
"He loved his family with all his heart. He would always talk about them. He never wanted to do anything that would embarrass them."
he and his wife: "It was a beautiful relationship and a strong example for other people."
"I'll really miss him." (broke down crying.)
Jim Moss has long been a wise and articulate champion of bringing computers and other high-tech instruments into the classrooms to give students expertise in that realm. He is also been a believer and a mover in striving for a mutally beneficial parternership of business and education. I had long discussions with him about those worthly aims just this week. I'm sure Jim's wish would be for those objectives to go forward. We share the sorrow of Jim's family and extend our deepest sympathy." Lowell Baum, executive director, UEA.