Obituary: THE ROXBOROUGH REVIEW, Roxborough, Philadelphia, PA.
April 20, 1978
Alvion Mosier Dies; Pioneer, War Hero
Alvion P. Mosier, husband of Mrs. Anna M. Williams Mosier, 611 Rector St., [Philadelphia, PA] died Saturday at Memorial Hospital. He was 87.
Mr. Mosier was a cowboy, a sailor, a soldier, a city policeman and a detective. He also served as the community Santa Claus several times under the sponsorship of the Roxborough Businessmen’s Assn. at the Christmas House at Ridge Av. and Green La.
And he was one of the few men in the country to serve in World War One in both the Navy and the Army.
Mr. Mosier was born in 1890 on a small farm at Vincennes, Indiana. His father then decided to head for some free homestead land in Oklahoma. It was one of the last wagon trains going west. The family settled on the Arapaho-Cheyenne Indian reservation where Mr. Mosier met One-Star, a Cheyenne chief who had fought General Custer at the battle of Little Big Horn.
At age 17, Mr. Mosier went off to see the world and got a job on the Rogers ranch where there was a young fellow named Will Rogers who taught Mr. Mosier how to rope and brand steers. Will Rogers went on to fame as a pundit and some of his humor was reflected in Mr. Mosier’s conversation in later years.
In 1908 Mr. Mosier joined the U.S. Navy and his first assignment was aboard the U.S.S. Tennessee. After his enlistment expired he decided to attend a barber’s school in New York City but when the Mexican-American War started in 1912 he enlisted.
Mr. Mosier was one of the first six servicemen to enter France in World War One. He was aboard the U.S.S. Memphis when it was assigned to rescue Americans in Europe who were stranded by the war.
In August 1916, the ship was hit by one of the worst peacetime disasters in U.S. Naval history when a combination of heavy storms and an underwater volcanic disturbance produced a tidal wave and threw the ship onto the rocks in Santo Domingo. Forty-one men were killed.
When he was discharged from the Navy, Mr. Mosier came to Philadelphia where he got a job as a detective with the Reading Railroad. He joined the Philadelphia Police Department in 1918 but then enlisted in the Army when America entered the first World War.
He was wounded in the battle of the Argonne and was carried off the battlefield with shrapnel in the legs and face. “The medics gave me up for dead and even wheeled me in with the dead, but I fooled them,” Mr. Mosier said.
After his discharge from the Army in 1919, Mr. Mosier rejoined the Police Department. He served until he retired in 1944.
In his earlier years he had been active in many community events and was one of the most vociferous members of the Community Council. He was a member of Hattal-Taylor VFW Post No. 33 for many years and served several terms as a commander. He said once that he spent many days trying to straighten out records of servicemen who were in World War One.
A man who was always a ready conversationalist, Mr. Mosier also had a quick wit and could tell a story right off the top of this head. He kept up, even in his later years, strong ties with his many friends around the world. He had sailed across the Pacific Ocean twice and the Atlantic six times. He circumnavigated the globe twice as a younger man.
Mr. Mosier said that his duty as Santa Claus was “the best time of my life.” He recalled that a little Chinese girl walked into the house sponsored by the Roxborough Businessmen’s Assn. and spoke to him in Chinese. “I spoke to her in Chinese,” Mr. Mosier said. “Her eyes really lit up. She couldn’t help but believe that I was a real Santa Claus.” Mr. Mosier had learned Chinese while he was in Peking for several months.
In the rear garden of his home, Mr. Mosier enjoyed growing roses and vegetables. He often gave away most of the crop -roses and vegetables. “I’m just a farm boy at heart,” he said.
Mr. Mosier also had a sense of humor. He once said “that I married at age 29 and several people said that at that age I should have known better. But I knew enough to know gold from counterfeit.” He also had much praise for his wife, and at the 56th anniversary dinner of the Hattal-Taylor VFW Post, No. 333, on Feb. 21, 1976, he told the group that “many a time she has stepped in and helped when we were in a mess.”
Mr. Mosier had little praise for the U.S. Congress. He liked to refer to them as “a bunch of leathernecks who don’t know what they’re doing.”
He said once “that I never thought that I would be living in a great section like Roxborough and Manayunk. There is no finer set of people than those living here in the 21st Ward.”
Surviving, besides his widow, are three daughters, Mrs. Florence Perrault; Mrs. Betty West; Mrs. Jane McQuality; a sister, Mrs. Sarah Savarino; eight grandchildren; and ten great-grandchildren.
Hattal-Taylor Post No. 333, V.F.W., conducted a service Tuesday evening at The Turner Funeral Home, 6028 Ridge Av. Funeral service was Wednesday with the Rev. Eugene F. Lefebvre, rector of St. Timothy’s Episcopal Church, officiating. Burial was in Fernwood Cemetery, Upper Darby.