Pappy Moss, former lawmaker, pilot and adventurer, dies

Posted: Tuesday, January 02, 2001

ANCHORAGE (AP) -- Pappy Moss, a former Alaska legislator, homesteader and pilot, died New Year's Eve at his home in Chugiak. He was 79.

''He was doing his darnedest to hold out ... 'til 2001, but he didn't quite get there,'' said daughter Deborah Ann McGoldrick of Chugiak. ''I suspect it was just his heart gave out.''

Moss had a bad heart valve and a number of debilitating diseases, including diabetes, she said.

He was elected to the Alaska House of Representatives in 1978 and was elected to a single four-year term in the Senate two years later.

He was a Democrat when the Democrats were in power in the Legislature. In 1984, he switched to the Republican Party and lost his Senate seat to fellow Republican Jack Coghill of Nenana.

''He was generally liked by many people,'' said former state representative and longtime friend Terry Martin of Anchorage. ''He had the character of an old farm hand. He used to walk around in old strapped overalls.''

Moss' legislative career was relatively short, but was sandwiched into a lifetime of adventures. That included flying as a pilot in the Berlin Airlift shortly after World War II, and for the CIA during the tense U.S.-Cuba period in the early 1960s, his family said.

''He flew in undercover during the Cuban crisis to the beaches in Cuba,'' McGoldrick said. He was evacuating American diplomats, she said.

''He could hear the guns going off and feel the bullet hit one of the engines. He managed to limp back to Miami.''

Moss was born in 1921 in Fulton County, Georgia, and was raised in Atlanta. As a private pilot in Georgia, he flew Muhammad Ali, Jimmy Carter and Johnny Cash, among others, McGoldrick said.

He first came to Alaska while in the U.S. Army Air Corps and was stationed at Ladd Field, now Fort Wainwright. Moss returned in 1967. He started homesteading in the 1970s on 160 acres at Big Delta, eight miles north of Delta Junction. He also mined gold.

Moss is survived by Mickey, his wife of 61 years, daughters McGoldrick, Huvian Gallaway of Eagle River and Sharyn Camp of Tyrone, Ga.

Services are pending.

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