Bill Moose was born in New Castle, Pennsylvania, in 1937. His father was a barber and his mother a teacher who recognized their only child’s talents. Later in life Bill would recall that in a junior high school contest he pantomimed a recording and won first prize: a 25 cent candy bar. The next year the prize was $5. Recounting the incident, he would glance at the ceiling, shake his head and comment “I won too early.” Then with a twinkle in his eye and a grin on his face he would glance at you and chuckle.
Despite being involved in high school plays, appearances on radio and TV, singing in choirs, playing the clarinet in band, and studying the piano, after high school he attended a nearby college and majored in accounting for a year. Bob Jones, Jr., spoke at a camp and showed the University’s first feature length film, Wine of Morning. Bill was impressed. A friend who was attending BJU encouraged Bill to enroll. As he applied, he selected “Speech Education” as a major. He recounted that this was not because he felt a calling to the classroom, but because he had “no repulsion to being a teacher.” Without his knowing it, the Lord had led Him to his life’s ministry.
As a speech major and a Graduate Assistant in the Speech Department, Bill performed frequently in plays, Classic Player productions, and Vespers. Regarding his first roll with Unusual Films as Stonewall Jackson’s aide-de-camp in Red Runs the River he said “You see my hands and hear my voice. That’s all.”
Most of his multitudinous appearances on the stage and in films were far more demanding, and he performed them with consummate artistry. During his career with the Classic Players, he performed virtually all of Shakespeare’s “wise fool” roles. They require deft handling of lines which frequently have biting satire in one phrase and witty compassion in the next. In the hands of lesser actors their meaning is lost and frequently confusing. Bill delivered these lines with flawless artistry. The audience not only understood but were emotionally drawn into the line. “Bill Moose is a joy to direct,” said one Classic Player director. “He not only understands what the role needs, but he is able to deliver the goods on stage.”
While in high school Bill was asked what he wanted to be. He responded, “a missionary.” While foreign fields were in his mind, the mission field God choose for him was nearer home. He and his wife conducted children’s church at Hampton Park Baptist Church for 35 years. They also produced VBS materials and programs.
Bill’s introduction to the Academy was as a student teacher. After earning his Masters Degree, he taught speech in the University and the Institute of Christian Service. In 1968 he became the Academy’s speech teacher and taught two survey classes which introduced students to public speaking, storytelling, interpretation, and acting. In 1971 he became a full time Academy teacher and BJA’s first Director of Fine Arts. In the Academy he also taught Bible and was a regular chapel speaker.
The Academy Winter and Spring Concerts were under his purview. Coordinating the various performing groups and working them into highly sophisticated and extremely popular programs was no easy task, but Bill managed it with aplomb. By coaching narrators and preparing reader’s theater pieces he also contributed to the productions. He supervised the writing and production of Junior Senior Banquet programs and led in their becoming costumed sketches and then performances in the Concert Center.
He taught in the Academy for 18 years, and BJA was blessed to have such a talented and dedicated faculty member. Later he said “The longer I taught in the Academy, the younger the students got. I was ready for a change.” He left the Quadrangle in 1986 but returned for “special appearances” including narrating the Academy’s 75th Anniversary Fine Arts Gala in 2001. He finished his teaching career in the University’s Speech Department in 2008.
In 1973 Dr. George Youstra, the Academy’s principal, nominated Bill to the South Carolina Speech Association for the “Speech Teacher of the Year Award.” As Bill accepted it the presenter noticed that it read “Speech of the Year.” Inadvertently the word “Teacher” had been omitted. They wanted to fix it, but Bill insisted that he keep the award as it was. Asked why, with a twinkle in his eye and a grin on his face, he replied “It’s unique.”
No more unique than he was.