Christian Hollis Moe died Jan. 20, 2023, in Carbondale, at age 93, after a series of illnesses.
Through his long career, Chris was a recognized playwright, director and scholar of theater. He was a dedicated, tireless and beloved mentor to countless students at Southern Illinois University in Carbondale and elsewhere.
Chris was born in New York City July 6, 1929, the son of Edith Monroe and Henry Allen Moe. He graduated in 1951 with a concentration in history from the College of William and Mary in Virginia. With the U.S. Navy, he was stationed in Japan during the Korean War and afterward served in the Naval Reserve. (During his Navy years, he read and studied dramatic literature, including all of Shakespeare's plays.) After active service, he completed his education at the University of North Carolina (M.A., Dramatic Art) and Cornell University (Ph.D., Theater Arts). He did additional studies at Columbia University and the British Drama League in London.
Beginning his career as a professor of theater at SIU in 1958, Chris served on the faculty for 38 years and afterward remained actively engaged as emeritus professor. During his tenure in the Theater Department, he founded the playwriting program and served as department chair, director of graduate studies and co-director of the McLeod Summer Playhouse. He instituted and administered a highly successful international playwriting competition. Throughout his career, he firmly believed in the values of collaboration and constructive criticism. He thoroughly loved his profession and brought a capacity for boundless energy to his work. The laboratory theater at SIU Carbondale bears his name.
A member of the Dramatists Guild, Chris is the author of award-winning produced or published plays, including an off-Broadway production and several commissioned works. He wrote a number of books, and his articles and critical essays appeared in national journals and reference works. He directed productions of over 100 plays at universities, outdoor festivals, summer stock companies and, post-retirement, at The Stage Company regional theater in Carbondale, which he helped found. In 1967, Chris directed a theatrical tour to arctic Greenland for U.S. Special Services. He was the national playwriting chair of the American Theater Association, served on the board of the Institute of Outdoor Drama, and chaired the American College Theater Festival National Playwriting Awards. His honors include a Samuel French National Playwriting Award, a Fulbright professorship to Australia, the Kennedy Center ACTF Golden Medallion, and a State of Illinois Sesquicentennial Medallion.
Chris was known for his quick wit, gregarious and amused demeanor, and an indefatigable and adventurous spirit. While in college, he met the love of his life, Carolyn Forman of New Jersey. Married in May 1952, they remained devoted lifelong companions for over 70 years. Together they traveled globally, entertained famously, maintained myriad friendships near and far, and took pleasure in theatrical and musical performances worldwide. Chris was also an eager tennis player and swimmer, and participated in amateur boxing in his younger days.
Chris was a warmhearted, encouraging and loving husband, father, grandfather and uncle. His family survivors include his wife, Carolyn Forman Moe; son Eric Moe and daughter-in-law Barbara Weissberger of Pennsylvania; son Keith Moe and partner Jenine Moscove of Oregon; granddaughter Caitlyn Moe and husband Zac Wheeler of Oregon; and granddaughter Alison Moe and partner Matt Breining of California.
A public memorial service will be announced at a later date. Memorial contributions can be made to the Christian H. Moe Playwriting Awards Fund, in care of the Southern Illinois University Foundation, Colyer Hall, 1235 Douglas Dr., Suite 6805, Carbondale, IL 62901.
Meredith Funeral Home in Carbondale is managing arrangements.
To leave a memory or anecdote, visit meredithfh.com.