If there was one constant in Earl Mosiman's 94 years, it was motion.
Mosiman, who died on Oct. 29, kept moving nearly all his life.
He swooped downhill at the national Soap Box Derby in the mid-1930s, where he represented Minneapolis, including one year in a contraption, built with his brothers, that welded an old water tank to two bicycles. He whizzed around the speedskating track across the street from his onetime Powderhorn Park boyhood home, setting a national age-group record in the 220-yard sprint that stood for 20 years. He pedaled his bike from Minneapolis to Detroit Lakes as a teenager. He plowed ahead as a varsity halfback for Marshall High School, even at an undersized 120 pounds, and also handled place kicks.
"He just liked the game of competing. He had a great deal of fun with it," daughter Marnie Mosiman said.
Even into his 70s and 80s, Mosiman schussed down ski hills and helped lead a cycling group he organized. He led a family contingent of 18 to a barge and bike tour of the Netherlands. His children followed him into competitive skiing and also became ski instructors.
But that was after he'd earned his living from the firm he founded with brother, Mort, to sell companies on setting up pensions and other employee benefits. That led to a sizable house on Shaver Lake in suburban Woodland where he kept a rink shoveled and delighted in throwing parties for families and friends that featured singing lyrics written on the spot to familiar tunes, his daughter said. He needed that space with a blended family of seven children. He had three of them with his first wife, June, his sweetheart at Marshall. After she died, he added four more children when he married Lois Beery.
His earlier life was more of a struggle. His family moved in with his grandmother by Marshall High School when the Depression hit and his parents couldn't afford rent. His mother gave music lessons to earn money; Earl drove a car that lacked a working clutch. The five children were expected to earn money, too. They set up multiple miniature golf and bike rental locations.
After high school, Mosiman enrolled at the University of Minnesota and developed an interest in sports broadcasting. When World War II interrupted, he spent time at Great Lakes Naval Training Center, where he sang tenor in the chorus, and then at Jacksonville Naval Air Station, where he taught Navy pilots to fly by instruments on an early flight simulator. After his discharge, he completed his university studies, spending time at student station KUOM with future Twin Cities broadcasting greats such as Howard Viken and Dave Moore.
He worked in Des Moines and the Twin Cities in sports broadcasting, sometimes describing games of the Minneapolis Lakers through ticker tape, which required imagination and the ability to fill gaps. But he went into business with his brother after deciding in 1960 that sportscasting was tilting toward former athletic stars as personalities. At 5-feet-5, Mosiman was competitive, but not a star. "He was not so little a guy in any other way," his daughter said.
He joined a choir at the Friendship Village senior complex in Bloomington when he was 88. He also became passionate about painting with watercolors.
According to his obituary, the night before he collapsed in his final illness, he told his dining companions at Friendship: "I want to tell you I'm going far away, on a long trip. Thank you all for being my friends."
Mosiman is survived by a sister, Bernice Holton, of Ham Lake; six children, daughters Marnie, of South Pasadena, Calif., Martha Goldingay, of Seattle, Barbara Beery, of Oakland, Calif., and Martha Milbery and Eileen Noble, both of Minneapolis, son John, of Snowmass Village, Colo., 13 grandchildren and five great-grandchildren.
A public memorial service will be scheduled this spring.