St. John’s “Hardest Working Businessman” Iva Moses, dies at 75

SUSANNABERG — Anyone who stopped by the pink building across from Myrah Keating Smith Clinic over the years could spot a quiet guy in a white polo shirt, tinkering with washing machines. They might also see him on the road behind the wheel of a truck, headed for St. Thomas. Or perched on a table in Moses’ Laundry, taking in a football game on the set above the fridge.

Iva Moses, who died Jan. 27 at the age of 75, let his actions speak louder than words, to most. An Army vet, veterinarian, businessman, and family man, Moses was remembered at a funeral service held Saturday at the Lutheran Church in Cruz Bay.

Those who spoke his praises at the service recalled his long hours of daily work and the help he offered to family, friends, and neighbors. He was also known for his love and care of animals.

Moses was also known for his words, plain and sometimes blunt. But those who remember him also recall the quick return of a laugh, a smile, and a helping hand.

Moses, as he was known, shared his love of animals with Neptune Richards, the grandfather who raised him. He studied veterinary medicine while serving in the Army and came home to care for his grandfather’s herds and flocks. Those who knew his life on St. John pointed out his role, for a time, as the island’s veterinarian.

There were cattle, pigs, and goats. For a while, there were horses, guinea hen, and an occasional peacock. There were a couple of dogs which might be taken for shepherds. But Moses also used his truck, driven slowly, to send his cows up the road.

What he knew, he shared with those close to him.

“You’re the one that helped me out of the tree after telling me numerous times, not to mess with the piglets because the mother will come for me,” said Shikima Jones.

Both Gov. Kenneth Mapp and Agriculture Commissioner Carlos Robles took note in their condolence messages to the family of Moses’ knowledge of animal husbandry. “His successful livestock operation was well known in the St. Thomas/St. John district. I personally admired his ability to be involved in animal husbandry long after retirement age,” Robles said.

But more and more, in these times, retirement is not a concept for businessmen. In his days Moses ran a laundromat, a lumber yard, a car wash, a butchery, a propane gas supplier, transportation and delivery services.

Staffers at MSI building supplies on St. Thomas recalled the 30 years of doing business with Moses.

“Sometimes Iva could be difficult but in short order, he was back with a laugh and a smile. We always enjoyed working with Iva and we viewed our relationship as more than just that of a customer and a vendor. Iva was one of the hardest working men that we knew and he never seemed to get tired from his hard work,” they said.

The drive to keep the businesses running was apparent most recently after Hurricanes Irma and Maria, when St. John lost power and most businesses closed. Moses Laundry was the first to re-open its doors, even as its owner was taken to Atlanta along with scores of other medical evacuees.

Daughter Ivy Moses said plans were in the works for new enterprises, even in the last days.

Of the many ways her father contributed to his St. John community, Ivy said she most remembered his willingness to help and his stewardship of family land.

“I think what I would most emphasize was his commitment to preserving the land, it was very, very important,” she said.