Smithsonian editor, 81, with Olympic National Park connection dies

By Jeremy Schwartz
Peninsula Daily News

Don Moser, a 20-year editor of the Smithsonian magazine and author of a 1962 book about the land and people of the Olympic Peninsula, died Dec. 8 at his home in Sag Harbor, N.Y.

He was 81.

His wife, Penny Moser, told the Washington Post that he had Parkinson's disease.

Don Moser began editing the Smithsonian magazine in 1981, taking over when the magazine's first editor, Edward K. Thompson, left, according to a biographical article about Moser published in the Smithsonian after his retirement in 2001.

Moser wrote five books over his reporting and editing career, including one about the Olympic Peninsula inspired by his time as a seasonal ranger in the Kalaloch area of Olympic National Park during a summer in the mid-1950s.

First-person narrative

The book, titled The Peninsula: A Story of the Olympic Country in Words and Photographs, takes the form of a first-person narrative with musings on both the wilderness and residents of the Olympic Peninsula and includes photos Moser took himself.

“You see trees in this country which you have to look at a couple of times before you can believe them,” Moser wrote in the 170-page book.

It's available to read on-site in Port Angeles at the Clallam County Historical Society's office, which is in the former Lincoln School site at the intersection of Eighth and C streets, and the Port Angeles Library at 2210 S. Peabody St.

In the book, Moser describes spending time with North Olympic Peninsula residents and park staff, such as district manager Elroy and campground caretaker Ace, providing only first names in his flowing, stream-of-consciousness style.

Honors class project

Moser wrote the book as an honors class project while he attended Ohio University, according to the Smithsonian.

The Sierra Club published The Peninsula after novelist Wallace Stegner, whom Moser had studied under during a writing fellowship at Stanford University, encouraged then-Sierra Club director David Brower to read Moser's work.

Moser also reported for Life magazine, covering the Vietnam War as the magazine's Far East bureau chief, and delved into freelance writing after the publication shut down.


Reporter Jeremy Schwartz can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 5074, or at

Last modified: January 02. 2014 5:57PM
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