Read Wabash alumni remembrances of Dean Moore


Winter/Spring 2002

Norman Moore, 1928—2002
Dean of Students at Wabash

A remembrance

I was grateful to represent the College at the service for my close friend Norman at St. Peter’s Episcopal Church in Philadelphia on January 21. Designed by his wife Connie and four adult children, Allison, Martha, Charlie and Patrick, the service was high Anglican following the Common Prayer liturgy. After a splendid brass choir concert, a full dress ceremonial processional ushered in a service with Biblical readings, hymns, creeds and formal prayers. There was no homily, no eulogy, virtually nothing personal. He would have loved it!

He would hate the imaginary scenario that follows. Imagine the Wabash Chapel filled with devoted former students from the mysterious, not-by-any-book 25-year reign of Dean Norman (or “No Man See More,” as they called him). If Norman were there, he would sit in the back corner on the aisle, hands clasped over his cane, and at the first laudatory mention of his name he would be out the door in a flash. If he were forced to stay, when a comment was made from the podium that he disapproved of, he would cough, clear his throat, audibly exhale, and whisper an aside that the whole chapel would hear. If he were forced to give a speech, it would be short—real short—and to the point. “Men,” he would say, “it’s time to go home now.” And they would go.

Norman was crisp, curt, cantankerous and canny. He was also prescient, perceptive, playful, and powerful. He was all-seeing, all-knowing, and, especially when you were doing something wrong, omnipresent, appearing as if by magic out of the mist of the night. The glow of the pipe would appear first, then the tweed hat and coat. Often without a word, he’d check out the scene, wave his hand or cane, grunt, and disappear down Crawford Street, Princeton scarf flowing behind him. Order restored, another lesson learned.

Norman was the perfect dean for a men’s college. On the outside he was gruff, stern and tough. It was no coincidence that he had been a defensive guard at Princeton and coached the single wing to Wabash, a throwback to earlier days. But on the inside he was a softy who had enormous empathy for young men who were in trouble or in need of a few bucks or a stern father’s loving limits. He was full of feelings bordering on what he would have called weakness. Masking the inside, he observed external forms. Thus, order was kept, and a College for men ran smoothly. He was the perfect Dean for men for the era from 1959-1984.

The dozens of stories that flowed into the College upon word of Norman’s death focused on three kinds of events, yet each had a common theme: trust. Whether breaking up a fight, asking a student to leave for a semester, or making a loan, Norman exuded total trust (he didn’t keep records) that the student would reform, repay, and be restored fully to the community. No questions asked; no explanations needed.

Norman talked tough but he loved Wabash students. They were scared to death of him, yet loved him back. And so did I.
—Peter Frederick, Professor of History

Return to the table of contents