MR is saddened to report the passing on April 25th of legendary retailer and noted amateur golfer Moss Beecroft, who, with his wife Frances and sons Bryan and Craig, built Beecroft & Bull into a nationally-recognized menswear emporium. The store received many awards for its men’s fashion over its 60+ years including recognition from Esquire magazine and MR. He was not quite 90.
Morris Bryan “Moss” Beecroft Jr. set out to be a lawyer: he was accepted at UVA law school when he switched lanes and with a friend opened a clothing store near FSU. It was there that he met Frances Carey, a beautiful and vivacious art student who captured his heart. They married and became the ‘dynamic duo’ in the menswear industry, eventually bringing in both sons and opening stores in Williamsburg, Virginia Beach, Norfolk, Richmond, and Charlottesville.
Moss was also one of Virginia’s great amateur golfers, winning numerous awards including #3 senior amateur in the nation in 1992.
Photos by Robert Walker
“Dad was a beautiful paradox,” says his son Craig. “In business and in golf, he wanted to beat you to the ground but then pick you up and have a drink together. He wanted to be the best but was uncomfortable with public praise. He was proud but humble, and as good a loser as he was a winner.”
Craig mentions his family’s outspoken dynamic. “Our showroom clashes years ago earned us the MR title of the industry’s ‘Most Dysfunctional Family.’ Dad and I usually hid in a corner while mom and Bryan went at it, horrifying others in the room. I like to compare ourselves to an Italian kitchen – noisy but full of love.”
Says good friend Craig Andrisen from Andrisen Morton in Denver, “I never knew anyone with so much passion for the business. He and his wife Frances were the most fun people to go out, both so personable, but dinners would often include animated discussions on which brand has the best ties. Moss was the kind of guy who would light up the room when he walked in. He’d tell the greatest jokes. His style was matched by his sense of humor and I will miss him.”
Recalls neckwear designer Randy Hanauer, “I first met Moss in 1969; I was working for Corbin in New York, and was ask to make a trip to Virginia to work with Beecroft & Bull. Moss and I hit it off and have been friends all these years. We were both members of the Old Friends Society. Moss was so much fun to work with. He had a great sense of humor and a great eye for color. I would always stay with Moss and Frances when in Newport News, and when they came to the Charlotte show our families would have dinner together. Moss and Frances were a great team and now they will be together again.”
Says Glenn Taylor from Taylor Richards & Conger in Charlotte, “Moss was a force in retail in the Southeast for many years, someone to look up to for his continuous success as an independent store owner and operator. He was a unique character who always said what he thought. I always loved that about him.”
From close friend and fellow retailer Matthew McClellan, “I first met Moss over 50 years ago. Our relationship became more than a business friendship. We never failed to have dinner together when we were in New York for markets. Later our dinners became family affairs with Frances and the boys. Moss was not only my friend, but also my mentor. He always had an opinion! I miss him already.”
“What I most learned from my dad was integrity,” concludes Craig. “His sportsmanship on the golf course was legendary, and that carried over into business. He was obsessed with doing the ‘right thing,’ in competition and with his business partners. Another lesson I learned from him was to never over-celebrate. Enjoy success but don’t get caught up in it. And always, no matter how bad it gets, remember to appreciate your clients.”
Moss was predeceased by his wife Frances. In addition to his sons Bryan and Craig and daughter-in-law Noel, Moss is survived by two grandchildren, Schuyler and Max. For those so inclined, donations in Moss’s memory can be made to your regional First Tee Chapter or to the American Parkinson Disease Association.