Meredith Moss has made making a difference her business.
The longtime “Dayton Daily News” reporter and columnist — a fixture in Dayton’s arts scene — is the champion in connecting organizations in need with those willing to help.
We caught up with Meredith, our latest Daytonian of the Week, between her many adventures.
What do you do?
I’m officially retired but don’t seem to be able to stay away from my desk at the Dayton Daily News. I’ve always been a features writer and over the years have covered a number of topics — from religion and fashion to women’s issues, family relationships and children’s books. In recent years I’ve focused on my passions — the arts scene and our non-profit community. My Sunday “On the Arts” column highlights the people, places and events that make Dayton such a terrific city. My “Make a Difference” column runs in the Life + Neighbors section on Thursdays, and highlights service organizations in our area and their specific needs. It’s turned out to be helpful, not only to our readers who want to donate items they can no longer use, but to so many wonderful organizations that are always struggling to make ends meet.
How did you become a journalist?
It was a circuitous route. I started out in theater, worked as an editor for a national magazine, then ended up in television. One day I got a call from the editor of the Dayton Daily News, Arnold Rosenfeld, who asked if I’d like to try my hand at writing a shopping column for the newspaper. Heck, I figured I knew how to shop so I accepted and have been here ever since.
Who was the most interesting person you’ve ever interviewed?
When I worked for TV host Phil Donahue, I not only learned how to conduct an interview, but I also learned that the most interesting people to interview were not the celebrities. They were the everyday people who had a passion for something or were making the world a better place. My favorite project for the newspaper was a “Cycle of Life” series where former photographer Jim Witmer and I spent time with folks from a wide variety of religions and ethnicities and learned about their traditions surrounding birth, coming of age, marriage and death. We went to baby namings and weddings and funerals. It was fascinating.
What superpower would you love to have?
I’d like to be able to time travel. First I’d get to know the ancestors I’ve never met, then I’d revisit my growing up days in Dayton View. I’d spend some time at Jefferson Elementary School, Colonel White and Fairview High Schools. I’d visit the old English Tudor Dayton View Library on Salem Avenue and take a bus downtown to shop at Rike’s department store. I’d stop at Temple Israel’s Youth Room where we all hung out after school and formed lifelong relationships. I’d definitely drop by Goody’s on Salem Avenue for a hamburger, fries and an EZ-Way (a yummy cake and ice cream combo.)
Then I’d take a trip into the future to meet my grandchildren’s children and their grandchildren. Wouldn’t that be lovely?
What do you love about life in Dayton?
I inherited my love for Dayton from my dad, Jack Moss, who was an admirer of John Patterson and Charles Kettering and loved our city’s history of innovation. He himself was an inventor and is featured in Curt Dalton’s Book, “Dayton Inventions.” He invented a paperwork system (Key-Rec) that tracked merchandise at department stores and was eventually used in stores throughout the country. He also taught brainstorming and creative problem-solving. My dad wanted to re-name Dayton the “City of Ideas” and he envisioned a “Self-Starter Village” in the Oregon District that would attract visitors and become a tourist destination.
I love Dayton for all those reasons and more.
What would you do on a perfect day in Dayton?
I’d like to say that I’d head for the gym and then hike trails and ride my bike on the bikeway. But since I’m a couch potato, some of your readers would know that I was lying. I’d more likely catch a movie at The Neon (with popcorn), have lunch with a girlfriend, head for a local theater for a good play, enjoy a home-cooked meal with my husband who is the family chef, spend time with my kids and grandkids.
What should people know about Dayton?
Our city is small enough and accessible enough that if you have a good new idea, you can make it happen.
What is your favorite hidden Dayton Gem?
The Children’s Garden at Wegerzyn Garden near DeWeese Parkway. I always take out-of-town visitors there and on a stressful day, I stroll through those gardens and leave happy.
Why did you decide to settle in Dayton?
A combination of reasons:
- After my husband finished law school, he was able to fulfill his dream of becoming a criminal prosecutor by working for Lee Falke at the Montgomery County Prosecutor’s Office.
- I was offered the chance to continue working with Phil Donahue, whose talk show had been syndicated and was reaching viewers throughout the country. I believed in that show and what Phil was trying to do: engage his audiences — mostly women — in stimulating discussions about important issues of the day.
- My mother-in-law was a widow and was ready to downsize to an apartment and offered us the family’s beautiful English Tudor home in Dayton View.
If you could change or bring one thing to Dayton, would it be?
A good Jewish deli complete with corned beef, lox, bagels, and Dr. Brown’s black cherry soda.
What is your hope for the community?
I think there’s terrific excitement about Dayton these days. I’m hopeful about development projects like the Arcade and the Fairgrounds. I’ve loved reporting on the original art in all of our beautiful new libraries.
I’m enjoying the Miami Valley’s new interfaith women’s group that brings together women of all religions in an effort to break down barriers and get to know one another.
I’m hoping we can continue to welcome new folks to our community . I’m hoping we can respect and value one another’s differences.