Lillian “Reba” Moses: A groundbreaking health care leader

Lillian “Reba” Moses: A groundbreaking health care leader
April 13, 2024

Mark Masselli, our president and CEO, reflects on the life of Lillian “Reba” Moses on the 100th anniversary of her birth:

Today marks the 100th anniversary of the birthday of Lillian “Reba” Moses. At the Moses/Weitzman Health System and Community Health Center, Inc., we celebrate her many accomplishments and acknowledge the long road she traveled.

Reba was born on April 13, 1924 in Pamplico, South Carolina, a small rural town in Florence County. Her father was a sharecropper who not only was welcoming a new member of the family, but was dealing with falling crop prices and economic depression.

In the 1930s, when Reba was a teenager, life was hard. In the early 1940s, she left her home and joined in the Great Migration northward to escape poor economic and social conditions. She found her way through New York City to Middletown, Connecticut, a small college town along the banks of the Connecticut River. While the geography changed, life was still hard as she cobbled together many domestic jobs until the 1960s, when the War on Poverty gave her an opportunity and a cause she believed in. She began her lifelong work as a community services worker and later director.

Reba and her husband James met and married in the early 1940s. They raised five sons, a daughter, two adopted daughters and a generation of young people. I was one of the people Reba mentored and gave guidance. It was the early 1970s and I had been raising my voice that “Health Care is a right and not a privilege.” Reba gently said, “Boy, you need to get your feet on the ground and show me what that means.” Her guidance and presence on our first Board of Directors gave credibility to our work at the health center. She was close to 30 years older than we were, and she, along with Gerry Weitzman, helped navigate us through many complicated times. From that one location serving a handful of patients, Community Health Center is now in 200 locations and serves over 100,000 patients.

All along this journey, Reba faced many serious health conditions and suffered from a chronic illness, lupus. For many of her later years, she was in a wheelchair. I would often visit her at home, and bounded up to her bedroom after her husband had lifted her into bed. I always found her alert and of course with her Bible at her side – it was well worn and many passages were underlined. Her faith was strong and her insights wise.

Reba passed away in 2012 just after coming from the convalescent home, by ambulance, to our 40th anniversary celebration of the Community Health Center. She always found inner strength and spoke to all of us about the importance of the journey we are on and the people we serve.

As I said to her that night and so many times of the phone – “Reba, I love you” and she always said, “I love you more.”

In her honor, and in honor of her good friend Gerry Weitzman, we recently launched the Moses/Weitzman Health System, a new national primary health care system named for them. Moses/Weitzman promises to change the face of primary care in America.

Wait, I can hear that voice—“Boy, you need to get your feet on the ground and show me what that means.” That’s why our tagline is “Always groundbreaking, always grounded.” Just as she was.

Happy Birthday, Reba!

Peace and Health,

Mark Masselli
Founder, President/CEO
Community Health Center, Inc.
Moses/Weitzman Health System

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