Friends, family and local dignitaries remember a former head honcho at the Veterans’ Department.

Mourners say good-bye over the weekend to former Secretary of the Wisconsin Department of Veterans Affairs John Moses — the longest-serving veterans secretary in state history.

With 50 years of service at the state capitol, Senator Fred Risser remembers Moses well. “He had a lot of support amongst the legislature and amongst the veterans. He weathered the storms and served, as I say, under both Democrats and Republicans, and was known as ‘Mr. Veteran.’ And his word was the last word on veterans’ affairs for a number of years here at the state capitol.”

Moses, who was a WWII tank commander, was appointed by Governor Gaylord Nelson in 1961 and took office in 1962. Among his many achievements during his 20-year tenure was the transformation of the Wisconsin Veterans Home at King . Moses worked to improve the financial standing of the department and created the WDVA home loan program .

Current Secretary John Scocos ( pronounce ) says, “His leadership was of great benefit to Wisconsin veterans, and he’ll be greatly missed.”

Longtime Veterans Museum Director Richard Zeitlin ( pronounce ) worked with Moses more than 25 years ago. He says, “His generosity and charisma left a stamp on veterans statewide.”

Governor Jim Doyle says, “Moses was a good friend” to him and his father.

Although Senator Risser stresses ‘veterans’ issues’ were the priority for Moses, he’s quick to point out “Mr. Veteran” had outside interests as well. “He had a lot of interest in history and genealogy and horticulture and conservation and he had a Norwegian heritage. In other words, he had a number of interests so he could well communicate on things other than veterans.” He says Moses was an expert with orchids.

Moses had served under six governors by the time he retired in ’82. John Moses lost his long battle with cancer on December 8, 2007, at the age of 88.

AUDIO: Jackie Johnson report (1:54 MP3)

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