Richard Wood Moll (1934 - 2017)

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Richard Wood Moll, 82
GEORGETOWN - Richard Wood Moll, 82, died May 24, 2017, at his cottage in Georgetown, after a brief period of poor health.
Born in Indiana-polis, Ind., on August 25, 1934, to Margaret Borcherding Moll and Wood Carnes Moll, Dick showed his abilities as a leader from a young age. Elected president of his third grade class at John Strange Elementary, he happily continued as class president either by election or acclaim all the way though high school and for a dozen reunions of the Broad Ripple High School's Class of 1952. The words that became his life motto were uttered by a Broad Ripple algebra teacher who, observing how pleased with himself the young man seemed to be, remarked that the person who has done what he set out to do has not set out to do enough.
After two years at his family alma mater, DePauw University, Dick transferred to Duke University, '56. When he began his studies at Yale Divinity School, he foresaw life as a college chaplain. He earned his Master of Divinity but, by dint of work with the office of admissions, he became persuaded that college admissions was also a vocation and would be a more interesting path than the ministry.
In 1961 he became the executive director of the African Scholarship Program for American Universities (ASPAU) at Harvard and recruited students all over Africa for American educations.
When a Nigerian student, placed at Bowdoin College by ASPAU, fell ill, Dick's visits to Bowdoin to help raise money for the young man's care got the attention of Bowdoin's president, James Coles. He invited Moll to become his director of admissions and give Bowdoin a national reputation. To that end, Moll began recruiting in the inner city and on the West Coast.
Understanding that assembling a class full of differences -- a byword at the time -- was not enough to get Bowdoin noticed, he took the bold step of making SATs optional. The admission of women to the traditionally male college in 1971 united some students and faculty in opposition. Moll found opposition stimulating and declared himself vindicated 40 years later when Bowdoin women were scoring higher than their male counterparts in team sports, volunteer hours worked, and grades.
At his next job, Vassar College, Moll encountered no shortage of opposition. Undergraduates and alumnae alike were against a coeducational program that had gotten off to an ineffective start before Moll's arrival. Politicking and the successful recruiting of more men won Moll the unofficial title of Mr. Fixit, a reputation he took to the West Coast when he was hired away, to work with the University of California in Santa Cruz on image problems.
He wrote three books, one of which, "Playing the Selective College Admissions Game," created a demand for Moll as a public speaker. Moll was a lively piano player. While at Harvard, he had traded lounge piano gigs for lift tickets at a N.H. ski resort. Julia Child hired him to play background at a Christmas party. To entertain himself and enliven his lectures, he borrowed melodies from Tom Lehrer and American show tunes to deliver useful advice to the mothers who made up his audiences.
Admissions professionals thought Moll's popular lecture/musicales lowered the profession's tone until he was inadvertently reviewed by the New York Times. This refreshed his reputation.
Upon leaving U.C. Santa Cruz, he conducted professional searches for American university administrations, and consulted with colleges dissatisfied with their performance in the selective admission game.
He retired to Brunswick where he volunteered with Friends of Bowdoin. Winters he spent in Palm Springs, California, where he was active in its UCC church, Bloom in the Desert. In both places, he was an enthusiastic tennis player and a regular swimmer. He swam in five Gay Games and won gold medals in his age class.
The apple never falls far from the tree. His father, Wood, built houses and developed property. Dick owned and lived in some 38 houses, apartments, and a trailer in the course of his life. His mother, Margaret, liked decorating so much she redid one of the family's houses every other year. Dick had an eye for decorative objects and set ideas about paint colors. With him, hanging pictures was a science.
He is survived by his husband, Wallace Pinfold, of Brunswick; by his brother and sister-in-law, Jack and Dottie Moll, of Hilton Head, S.C.; by his niece, Karen Tremarelli and her husband David, of Hilton Head, and their family; his sister-in-law, Frances Pinfold Phillips and her husband William Phillips, and their family, of Ann Arbor, Mich.; and James Pinfold and his wife Alexandra Carter, of Barcelona, Spain.
Mr. Moll was predeceased by two nephews, Kent and Thomas Moll.
Private funeral arrangements are made by Advantage Funeral Services of Portland. A public memorial service will be held on a date yet to be determined.
Memorial contributions may made to a fund newly created in Moll's honor by the Bowdoin Class of 1976, of which he was a happy honorary member:

Richard W. Moll
Memorial Scholarship Fund
Bowdoin College
4100 College Station
Brunswick, ME 04011

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Portland, ME 04103
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Published in Portland Press Herald/Maine Sunday Telegram on May 28, 2017
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