Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Samuel Moon 1922-2011

For those of you who are unaware, I am the namesake of Edward Samuel Moon, a professor at Knox college in Galesburg, Illinois. Dr. Moon had a great impact on my parents in the early 1960s. So much so that a decade later, while driving from somewhere to somewhere else in their green VW microbus, tossing about names for their first born son, my father tsuggested name of Sam Moon and the rest is history.

I do not recall meeting the gentleman, though apparently I did at a young age, and though we did speak a few times via  email, I cannot say that I knew him. No, my impression of Sam Moon comes from stories told by my mother and from the few interactions that we had. Sadly the bond that connected he and I was only a common name. From the stories I have heard and accounts I have read, he was a good man, loving father, attentive husband, insightful professor and inspiring mentor. But truly, I cannot say that I knew him.

In fact, if he and I had not shared a name, Dr. Edward Sam Moon would have passed into history with hardly a blink on my part, like many other of my father's professors. We shared only a name and yet there is a heaviness I feel at his passing. We shared a common bond in our name and now I alone am Samuel Moon.

A name is a strange thing, I might have been named any of a thousand names and I would still be me. But I was not given any name, my name was as carefully chosen as were the names of my children. Debated, considered and deliberately given for the meanings attached to that name by the individuals who bore it before me. I have given new meaning to the name, "Sam", for better or worse. Others who know me now associate different meaning with the name. To my father and mother and those who knew Sam Moon, the name evoked deep admiration, love and respect. It is my hope that when I leave this life, the name of Samuel Moon Christensen will have made such a positive impression on those I meet as the name of Dr. Edward Sam Moon did.

If by chance, any of Sam Moon's relatives should pass by this site, I would like to offer my sincere sympathies. While I did not have the pleasure of knowing Dr. Sam Moon, my earliest memories of the man behind the name evoke pride. He made a deep impression on my parents and challenged those whom they ran with in college to become more than they were or even aspired to be and I am glad to have carried his name.

The following was taken from the Konx College website.

Samuel Moon, William G. Simonds Professor Emeritus of English at Knox College, died on Saturday, September 10, 2011, at his home in Cortland, New York. He was 89.
A graveside service will be held at a later date in Exeter, Ontario, Canada where his ashes will be buried next to his late wife, Doris. Moon's son, Peter S. Moon, is a 1976 Knox graduate.
A member of the Knox faculty from 1953 to 1984, Moon earned bachelor's, master's and Ph.D. degrees at the University of Michigan. He served in the U.S. Army Air Force during World War II.

Moon was chair of the English Department at Knox and in the 1960s was instrumental in establishing the College's highly regarded creative writing program.
"Sam was very staid, very modest, but he was a pioneer in the teaching of creative writing, and he had a significant impact on Knox," said Robin Metz, Philip Sidney Post Post Professor of English and Moon's long-time colleague.
Moon also published many of his own poems in such prestigious journals as Poetry and Atlantic Monthly. He was also a noted literary critic whose non-fiction publications included the anthology "One Act: Eleven Short Plays of the Modern Theatre," and "Tall Sheep," an oral history of Harry Goulding's Trading Post in Monument Valley, Utah, which served as the location for a number of Western films.
Early in his Knox career, Moon also wrote "A Knox College Manual of Style" for use in the English department. According to Moon, "style" is larger than spelling, grammar, punctuation and footnotes. In a 1962 campus lecture, Moon described style as "an unending process" aimed at achieving wisdom.
Style is a ubiquitous fact of life. No man escapes working in one medium or another. No man avoids forming attitudes and values. No man is without some kind of style. No man lacks a mask -- a public face -- worthy or unworthy of his possibilities. We must discriminate in these matters. We must ask ourselves what we can do, where we can go with the styles we have...
While it would be disastrous for us to embrace our culture wholly and uncritically, it would be equally disastrous for us to cut ourselves adrift from it...
In that unending process which is style, the ultimate goal, attained only rarely, by men of the greatest genius but the goal toward which we all may struggle, is the style of wisdom.
-- Samuel Moon, Mortar Board Convocation, Knox College, March 1962