In memoriam: Moses Carper, the black cowboy of Riverview Park


Left: Moses Carper was known for wearing his signature cowboy boots and hat around Riverview Park. (Photo courtesy OHI).

As a former president of Observatory Hill Inc., an eco-steward in Riverview Park, a nonprofit founder and board member at the Manchester Academic Charter School, Moses Carper wore many hats in and around the Northside.

However, none were quite as infamous as the cowboy hat he wore on his head along with chaps and boots.

Known as the “black cowboy” of the Northside, Carper is remembered for the horses he cared for in Riverview Park and the equestrian and agrarian experiences he worked to give inner city kids.

Carper passed away last month at the age of 81, but left a significant impact on the communities he lived and worked in.

Carper was a long-time resident of Observatory Hill where he lived on property owned by his grandfather.

He served as on the board of directors of OHI from 2008 to 2011, and served as a volunteer at the visitors center of Riverview Park at the time of his death.

“Those who knew him remember him as a kind, patient and thoughtful man who had a love of young people of all ages and backgrounds,” remembered OHI member Jane Sestric. “He shared his knowledge and love of animals and nature with many park visitors and friends.  The contributions he made to the Northside will live on for years to come.”

Carper’s most notable impact on the Northside was his work in Riverview Park.

In addition to maintaining stables at the north east corner of the park, Carper was one of the founding members of Friends or Riverview Park. He worked as an eco-steward through the Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy and brought young volunteers into maintain flowerbeds.

He also based his nonprofit, Chiyou Corral, out of the park and organized Riverview Heritage Day each year.

“When I was little, I thought my dad owned Riverview Park,” recalled Carper’s daughter Phaedra Carper, who grew up in the Northside with chickens, horses and even a pet goat named Nubi.

Pressley Ridge Chief Learning Officer, Jim Doncaster knew Moses for 20 years; first as a fellow volunteer and Friends of Riverview Park founder and later working with Pressley Ridge kids and the Riverview Park horses.

Doncaster recalled working with Carper to “reclaim a park that had been let go,” before the advocacy and creation of groups like the park conservancy.

Together they organized litter pickups and flower planting and even hauled several stolen cars that were stowed far into the park. However, Doncaster explained that he remembers that work fondly.

“When you worked with Moses, it didn’t really feel like work,” he said.

Doncaster later brought Pressley Ridge students to ride and interact with the Carper’s horses and work in the park.

Carper had a masters degree in child psychology and was known for connecting well with children.

“He was just wonderful with children,” said Doncaster. “He was very patient and relaxed and kids really took to him.”

Carper also founded his own nonprofit in the Northside called Chiyou Corral, which aimed to provide inner-city kids with opportunities to experience a more rural lifestyle and encouraged stewardship though equestrian activities.

Carper also served on the board of Manchester Academic Charter School.

Outside of the Northside, Carper worked with the Hill House and with prison inmates to adjust to life outside of prison.

Moses is survived by his six children who are planning a memorial for some time in January.

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