Leaders & Legacies: Harold and Margaret Moser, “Mr. & Mrs. Naperville”

Leaders & Legacies: Stories of Local Impact is an ongoing series brought to you in partnership with the Daily Herald and DuPage Foundation. It highlights the inspiring stories of local individuals, families, and businesses that have made or are making a lasting impact for our community through their generosity and leadership.

The series continues with Harold Moser (1914-2001) and Margaret Moser (1913-2001).

Much of what makes Naperville a beloved place to live, work and play is owed to Harold and Margaret Moser.

The oldest of four children, Harold Moser was born in Fort Wayne, Indiana, in 1914 and moved to Naperville at a young age. Following his graduation from eighth grade at Saints Peter and Paul Catholic School in Naperville, he attended St. Lawrence Academy in Wisconsin.

Naperville developer Harold Moser, left, a devout Catholic who once studied for the priesthood, meets with Pope John Paul II, right, in this undated photograph. Moser's nephew, Paul Lehman, is standing in the background, center. Courtesy of the Moser family

While playing basketball as a sophomore, Harold suffered an injury causing inflammation of the bone marrow in his right leg. He had to leave school and spent several months recovering at a local hospital.

While the injury had lasting effects and made it difficult for him to walk, Harold was determined to make a difference.

After graduating from Naperville High School in 1933, he attended North Central College and was the sports editor of The North Central Chronicle. Harold's father, Dr. Edward Moser, gave him money to start The Naperville Sun in 1935.

A section of Century Walk's first mural, "The Printed Word," created in 1996 by the late Tim Etters. The mural tells the story of publishing in Naperville and was originally painted in 1996 on the Naperville Sun Building. It was repainted on Ellman's Music Center in 1998. Courtesy of Century Walk Corp.

When he realized the newspaper business wasn't for him, Harold sold the publication to his friend and employee Harold White.

Harold always had an interest in construction and, in the late 1930s, he opened Moser Lumber with his father. He became a contractor and recruited other local contractors to join him in building unique homes in Naperville and creating family-friendly neighborhoods outlined with trees, parks and schools.

Paul Lehman, the Mosers' nephew, said the business came at the perfect time as there were a lot of vacant lots left behind from the impact of the Great Depression.

Harold Moser at the start of one of his early development sites. Courtesy of Paul Lehman

"He built up an industry of local mom-and-pop builders leading to all of the custom homes and subdivisions in Naperville," Lehman said.

Harold married Margaret Donovan, who was from Wheaton, in 1949 and they became members of Saints Peter and Paul Catholic Church. The Mosers were generous supporters of Naperville's Catholic churches, donating more than 40 acres of land - 10 acres each - to St. Raphael, St. Thomas the Apostle, St. Elizabeth Seton, and St. Margaret Mary.

In 1960, Harold started his own development company, Macom Corporation, with one purpose in mind. His goal was to build the first private residential golf course community in the Chicago area. Opened in 1963, Cress Creek Country Club Estates was the first residential community in Illinois to be built around a golf course.

In 1970, following some health issues, Harold sold the lumber business to his younger brother, Jim, so he could strictly focus on land development.

Jim also played a major role in Naperville home construction, and it was his vision of a park with covered bridges along the DuPage River in downtown Naperville that led to the creation of the Riverwalk.

Harold Moser and his brother Jim were vital to the development of the Naperville Riverwalk. The first of three covered bridges across the DuPage River displays a plaque recognizing their gift. Courtesy of Stephanie Penick

In the late 1980s, Harold developed the White Eagle Golf Club and surrounding homes.

According to White Eagle, the original design of the golf course called for a "links course" without trees, which included high fescue grasses. Homebuyers wanted lush landscaping and did not want to view grasses that looked like weeds. As a result, more than 1,500 trees were planted including oak, ash, maple, hawthorn, Scotch pine, Norway spruce, redbud, cherry and flowering crab apples.

Lehman followed his uncle into his profession and joined Macom Corporation in 1974, later becoming its president and CEO.

By the time Harold retired from Macom in 1993, more than 3,500 homes had been built in more than 25 subdivisions he had developed in Naperville. Many of these subdivisions came with a membership to a homeowners' association, which would provide upkeep for entry gates, common landscaped areas, and any recreational facilities or amenities. Lehman said the idea behind it was to create a sense of community among neighbors.

John Cuff, president of the Naperville Riverwalk Foundation, worked for Harold at Macom as a project manager overseeing construction.

"You can't go down a road in Naperville without touching one of Harold's subdivisions," Cuff said.

These subdivisions include: Aero Estates, Brighton Ridge, Brookdale, Brush Hill, Cedar Glen, Columbia Estates, Cress Creek Country Club, Farmington, Forest Preserve, High Meadow, Huntington, Huntington Commons, Huntington Estates, Huntington Ridge, Knolls of Huntington, Maplebrook I and II, Maplebrook South, Moser Highlands (East and West), Naper Carriage Hill, Pembroke Commons, Saybrook, Walnut Hill, Walnut Ridge and White Eagle Golf Club.

"Harold believed in reinvesting in Naperville," Cuff said. "He made money but put it back into the community. Where there was a need, he stepped up to the plate."

Harold Moser laughs as his wife, Margaret, presents him with a portrait that captures the developer's unique fashion sense. It seems she got him to wear the same coat and tie to the portrait unveiling. Courtesy of the Moser family

In 1988, a committee from Saints Peter and Paul Catholic Church gathered at White Eagle to meet with Harold for guidance on running a golf outing. Its purpose was to raise funds for needy families struggling to come up with the tuition to provide their children with a Catholic education. Harold's immediate response was "Margaret and I will be glad to help you by underwriting the cost for the golf and dinner."

The first nine years of the outing brought in more than $165,000 to assist Saints Peter and Paul families. In 1998, the outing was renamed as the Harold and Margaret Moser Golf Outing in recognition of the Moser's philanthropic gesture. The school's development board also took a part of the proceeds and endowed a scholarship to make grants toward Catholic education.

Now in its 34th year, the golf outing is a staple for the school's fundraising efforts and has raised more than $1 million since its inception.

Believing in the power of education, the Mosers were benefactors to Benedictine University, North Central College, and the University of St. Francis in Joliet - Margaret's alma mater and where they both served on the board. The Moser Performing Arts Center at the University of St. Francis was dedicated in honor of their contributions and is home to all of the university's music and theater programs.

Harold and Margaret Moser attend graduation ceremonies at Benedictine University in Lisle in 1985, where Margaret received an honorary doctorate. Courtesy the Moser family

Benedictine's Margaret and Harold Moser Center opened in Naperville in 2006 to serve adult and graduate students, and later became the National Moser Center for Adult Learning. In 2016, Benedictine rebranded the Moser Center into the School of Graduate, Adult and Professional Education with degree programs offered in business, education and health care at its Lisle campus.

One of the most significant outright gifts the Mosers made to Naperville was $1 million toward the construction of the Naperville Bell Tower. Also known as Moser Tower, the 16-story structure that is 10 feet taller than the Statue of Liberty, is home to the Millennium Carillon, a unique musical instrument consisting of 72 bells.

The project began in late 1997 to permanently commemorate the upcoming new millennium. Through the Moser's donation and contributions from donors, businesses, and a grant from the City of Naperville, the Tower was dedicated in 2000 and opened to the public in 2007. While currently under construction for repairs, carillonneurs from around the world typically perform summer concerts and visitors can climb 253 steps to the observation area that overlooks downtown Naperville.

Moser Tower is home to the Millennium Carillon, one of about 600 carillons worldwide and the fourth largest in North America. The Grand Carillon's 72 bells span six octaves, and there are only a few in the world. The bells were cast by the Royal Eijsbouts Bell Foundry in The Netherlands and range in weight from 10 pounds to nearly six tons with a combined weight of 32.5 tons. Courtesy of Stephanie Penick

Mary Locher and her late husband, Dick, were longtime neighbors and friends with the Mosers, and were with them at the Millennium Carillon dedication in 2000.

"Harold loved that day because he just loved to talk to people," said Locher. "In public, Margaret always preferred to let Harold do the talking, which was typical of the era she was from. She was a delightful person and lived a very simple life. When it came to charity, she was very giving."

Harold and Margaret Moser passed away within one week of each other in 2001. To everyone who knew them, they were the quintessential loving couple who gave so much without expecting anything in return.

In 2009, a bronze sculpture commissioned by the Century Walk Corporation was unveiled to pay homage the couple's impact on Naperville and cement their legacy as a fixture of public art.

The mission of Century Walk is to create significant and diverse public art throughout Naperville to include people, places and events. Brand Bobosky, Century Walk president, said the Mosers were responsible for the incredible growth in Naperville and it was fitting to honor them in this way.

"Harold Moser probably built a quarter or more of the homes in Naperville," Bobosky said. "And Margaret was the woman behind the man. He was a wonderful business person and benefactor in Naperville and they both created such an impact in the community."

The bronze "Mr. and Mrs. Naperville" sculpture created by Bart Gunderson was unveiled in 2009 as the 33rd addition to Naperville's Century Walk. Courtesy of Century Walk Corp.

Aptly named "Mr. and Mrs. Naperville," the sculpture lives in Centennial Park at the foot of Moser Tower and serves as a permanent reminder of how the Mosers dedicated their giving to the town they loved most.

• The Leaders & Legacies series is brought to you by the Legacy Society of DuPage Foundation. Suggestions for future stories can be sent to Mindy Saban, director of communications, at Interested in learning more about how you can make an impact or create a legacy for your community and favorite causes? Visit or call (630) 665-5556. DuPage Foundation is located at 3000 Woodcreek Drive, Suite 310, in Downers Grove, IL 60515.

Harold & Margaret Moser Golf Outing

The 34th annual Harold & Margaret Moser Golf Outing will be held Thursday, Sept. 8, at Cress Creek Country Club in Naperville.

Golfers can sign up as individuals or as a foursome. The outing starts with a noon shotgun and includes dinner and a silent auction. All proceeds support tuition assistance for Saints Peter and Paul Catholic School in Naperville.

Learn more at

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