A crowd of 150 community leaders and friends of Dean Moss gathered on Thursday night to honor him for his 35 years in Scouting, with sons David and Scott making the introductions.
“I can’t think of a better way to miss the Vols in the Sweet Sixteen than being here tonight,” said David Moss, to a room full of laughter. “Scott and I wouldn’t have missed this for anything.”
David talked about his father’s accomplishments in Scouting, in leading Troop 81 for decades and shaping young lives.
“He’s racked up some pretty cool accomplishments along the way so sit back, grab some popcorn because this might take a while.”
Master of ceremonies for the evening was Bill Beaty. Two Scouts, Benjamin Hendrich and Emery Benson were on the program to share their Scouting stories, which they did. Kevin Proffitt highlighted some of the Tuckaleechee District highlights.
Dean Moss is the recipient of the District Award of Merit, Silver Beaver Award, NESA Scoutmaster Award, United Methodist Cross and Flame Award and the “Pappy” Veal longevity honorarium. He is a former Wood Badge Course Director, National Jamboree Scoutmaster (three times), University of Scouting faculty member (nine times), and Council Contingency leader of 40 scouts to Philmont Scout Reservation. He is currently serving as the Scoutmaster for Troop 81 (27 years), Tuckaleechee District Roundtable Commissioner and is a Brotherhood member of the Order of the Arrow.
That Moss didn’t earn the rank of Eagle Scout himself is a big regret for his dad, David told the audience. Instead, he has pinned 70 Eagle Scouts who have been members of his troop.
“He’s more than compensated in his adult Scouting career,” David said.
Scott also took the stage, talking about his dad’s military service in Vietnam and his 32 years in service at McGhee Tyson. Scott also revealed that his parents celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary last year. Dean was also a former president of Maryville Little League and Community Food Connection.
Dean Moss received an Honorable Discharge from the U.S. Air Force after serving in Vietnam where he was awarded the Air Force Commendation Medal and has authored and published a book, “The Other Side of the World,” about his experiences in Vietnam.
He is retired from the Federal Aviation Administration after a distinguished career of over 40 years serving at both the Atlanta and Knoxville airports.
Smiles and laughter abound
The night was filled with plenty of light-hearted moments as Scott and David honored their father.
“Taking after his boyhood hero, Lawrence Welk, my dad can play a mean accordion,” Scott told the audience.
In addition to his service in Scouting, Moss is a member of Maryville First United Methodist Church where he teaches Sunday School, participates in Welcome Table and Family Promise ministries, and was a member of a missionary team that served in Haiti and Africa. He is a past president of Maryville Little League (3 years), former president of the Community Food Connection of Blount County (4 years), and a member of the musical group Turkeys in the Straw (11 years) that entertained at nursing homes, assisted living, civic organizations and various churches in our community.
Then before Moss took the stage, Scott told his dad to remember a few rules — the three Bs. Be brief, be funny and be gone,” he said.
“I am hoping to get two of the three tonight.”
The introduction was complete when Moss took the stage and saluted both his sons as they saluted back.
Being the 2019 Good Scout Award recipient for the Great Smoky Mountain Council BSA is a humbling experience, Dean said. He gave credit to God and to wife Barbara, who has fully supported him in all years of Scouting.
Taking the plunge
Moss remembers how it all got started. Scott joined the Scout Troop at New Providence Presbyterian those many years ago, and it wasn’t long before some of the leaders begged Moss to join them. He wasn’t so sure.
To ease his doubts, the Scout leaders gave Moss a copy of the Scout Master’s Handbook. “This is everything you will need to know about being a Scout Master,” Moss said they told him.
So Moss took the book home and read it, cover to cover, twice. He took notes in the margins and got pretty familiar with the book’s contents.
“Now I know everything there is to know about being a Scout Master,” he said he told himself.
For one thing, the other leaders told him being a Scout Master would require one hour per week. Wrong, Moss said. “It takes one hour per week per boy,” he said.
During his speech, this longtime Scout Master said he learned mostly by trials by fire.
Not in the handbook
Moss recounted a very memorable first visit to Camp Buck Toms with his Scouts. He was relaxing under a tree when a Scout named Joe came up from behind and had a question.
“What kind of snake is this?” Joe wanted to know. He had caught the baby snake with a clothespin.
Turns out, it was a copperhead. And Moss just about tore up that lawn chair as Joe dropped it in his lap, terrified.
“That wasn’t in the book,” Moss said.
Neither was how to deal with a Scout using an Exacto knife to earn his woodcarving badge. The Scout actually cut the tip of his finger off, Moss said. The Scout Master had to crawl around in the mud to find the appendage and rush it and the Scout to the nearby hospital. The fingertip was reattached.
That Scout, Moss said, is now a renowned physician in Colorado.
There were other comical and colorful tales Moss shared that evening. He said the adventures were many. After all, no one joins the Scouts for the weekly indoor meetings, he said. They want the thrill of archery, shooting, camping and backpacking.
And while he loved his time coaching Little League, he said it left him unfulfilled at the end of the short season. With Scouts, it’s a seven year relationship where Scouts grow into leadership roles and learn skills they will use throughout life.
“We take them into the wilds for days at a time. They are out there with the snakes, poison ivy, bears and skunks, having the time of their lives,” he said.