In his book “Six Great Ideas,” American philosopher Mortimer J. Adler outlines six concepts that have been fundamental to the development of Western civilization. One of these—truth—supports our ability to make informed decisions about the world.
George “Tony” Mozingo (Col ’70) has lived his life in constant pursuit of truth. Growing up an only child in rural Northern Virginia during the ’50s, he developed a love for nature and spent his free time reading about trees, weather, and rocks and minerals. In a word, he was intrigued by the world around him.
When it came time for college, Mozingo had the grades, but little guidance. Coming from an extended family of tradesmen and farmers, he was the first to pursue a college education. He chose UVA because of its reputation as an outstanding state university.
That’s when he found his true home.
“I fell in love with the University at first sight,” he said. “I connected with everything about the Grounds and the people I met there, and I established deep roots that remain in place today.”
Mozingo loved the traditions of dressing in a suit for classes and living by the Honor Code. He pledged the Gamma-Omicron chapter of TKE and fondly recalls his fraternity days, when his chapter brothers became his new family.
As for his studies, he recalls a conversation in which a well-loved economics professor gave him some valuable advice. “Dr. Elzinga told me, ‘When you’re choosing your major, pick something you really like—something you’ll enjoy studying. Then supplement it with as many liberal arts courses as you can.’”
For Mozingo, this meant choosing a path in the natural sciences. He selected geology, but also experimented with classes such as philosophy, astronomy, geography, marketing, and debate.
This broad education served him well: After earning his degree, Mozingo moved to Washington, D.C. and embarked on a long and rewarding career with the FBI, specializing in Soviet military counterintelligence. Later, he spent time investigating bank failures and financial fraud while posted in the San Francisco and Monterey, California areas. By the time he retired in 1995, he had grown fond of the West Coast and decided to stay there, despite his deep connection to Virginia.
After many years of marriage, Tony lost his wife, Marilyn, to cancer. He later found a rewarding new life with his current spouse, Donna. Now living in Oregon, Tony and Donna remain active learners who are committed to helping young adults gain access to higher education.
The couple recently completed an extended tour of Virginia, where Tony introduced Donna to his beloved UVA. Donna, a West Coast native, said, “I’m really growing to love Virginia. I’m impressed with its history, and I’m relishing the opportunity to learn about the University.”
Tony’s roots, paired with Donna’s growing affinity for the state, were largely what inspired the couple to establish a charitable gift annuity. Their gift, which will benefit the University and provide them with guaranteed fixed income for life, comes as the latest in a line of generous acts bearing their name.
“It was important to us to give back,” Donna said. “The University is important to my husband, and for me, as a retired professional educator, there is no finer commitment than furthering opportunities for our youth of today. This is a symbol of our commitment to UVA’s future.”
The couple’s gift will ultimately support the George Lee Mozingo Endowment Fund, providing scholarships to students in the Department of Physics. And while Tony is pleased by the idea of preserving his legacy, he’s primarily interested in the scientific advances their gift will facilitate.
“The greatest goal of all is to advance mankind’s understanding of our universe and our origins—and to provide a basis for rational speculation about our purpose and destiny,” he said, adding, “and what better place to do this than at UVA, where my favorite Jefferson quote is not only a motto but a lifetime guidepost: ‘For here we are not afraid to follow truth wherever it may lead, nor to tolerate any error so long as reason is left free to combat it.’”
Clearly, Tony Mozingo is a man for whom the quest for truth is infinite.