RIP, 'Moose'

Charlie Musumeci believed the show must go on.

That’s why his family kept word of his death private until after the final weekend performance of “Peter Pan,” which he helped direct, at Cherry Hill East High School.

“We put the kids first,” said Cindy, his wife of 15 years.

A beloved presence in East theater and softball programs for decades, Musumeci , 58, died Saturday after a long battle with adrenal cancer. He was a 1972 East graduate, and lived in Cherry Hill.

“He had strength and courage all the way until the end, always with a smile,” Cindy said. “He fought a good fight.”

 “He was a cherished colleague and a friend to all of us,” John O’Breza, principal at East, said. “He led a life of kindness and a life of service. We will miss him.”

I had the pleasure of interviewing “Moose” twice – when he played William Penn in the 1980s, and again for my column last October. He was already a veteran of cancer treatment, but was characteristically upbeat.

“I live life to my fullest every day,” he told me. “And I have mostly good days."

Musumeci was looking forward to the upcoming premiere of his indie film, “Ain’t Nobody.” Shot largely at East, the satire of education reform later drew a sold-out crowd to a screening that benefitted cancer research.

A viewing is set for 6 to 9 p.m. Wednesday and from 9 to 11 a.m. Thursday at St. Mary’s Church on Springdale Road in Cherry Hill, where a funeral Mass will be offered at 11 a.m. Thursday.

A scholarship will be set up in his memory.

“He was an amazing person,” Cindy said. “And his spirit will live on through those kids.”