Sometimes the people of a city become the beneficiaries of the generosity of a fellow citizen who makes their lives better in many ways. Such is Arlington’s good fortune that David Moritz came our way. He never held any political office, nor did he assert himself in visible leadership roles in community service. He was always just there for us.
Much has been written and spoken in tribute to him since his passing at the age of 86 last month, and all of it has reminded us of his quiet character and ready support for initiatives, private and public, that helped Arlington emerge into the city we call home.
One of his many remarkable characteristics is that everything he did as the city’s foremost benefactor, he did it all very privately. Denying every request to be identified by the entity or people he was helping, he never wavered from his determination that he was not doing what he did to focus any attention on himself.
During my decade of service as mayor and beyond, there was never a time he declined when I reached out to him for help to achieve something for the people of the city that the local government could not provide.
I often suggested that he let me acknowledge his generosity and explained that doing so would encourage others to follow his lead. It took some arm twisting but he did allow, on occasion, for me to say that he was helping but not to mention the amount of his donation.
Another dimension of his support for community needs was that he often offered non-profit and community service organizations a commitment to match donations from others. That way the non-profit could say to potential donors that their gifts would be doubled. But he only wanted to be identified as an anonymous benefactor making such a contribution.
The greatest period of involvement that my wife Sylvia and I had with David was in the development of the Living Science Center in River Legacy Park. The challenge my wife faced as the president of the non-profit River Legacy Foundation was raising $4.5 million to cover the cost of a what would be the city’s first development of an environmentally sustainable building.
She recruited David to help with the fund raising. He hadn’t worked in that role before, instead making his own generous contributions to causes he wanted to support. But he stepped up and approached others who could make sizable contributions of land and money to make the dream of a first quality nature center and the city’s largest park become a reality.
To say he was responsible for the success of the capital campaign that made the center a reality is a matter of fact and has been a remarkable experience for the people of the city and beyond for the past 25 years.
That’s just one example of what he did throughout his lifetime for our community.
If you think about it, the Arlington we know today would be something less than it is had it not been for this remarkable man who elevated our quality of life in ways known and in many other ways we will never know.