John Noah Moyle, known to his family and friends as Noah, died unexpectedly in Davis after a 25-year struggle with bipolar 1 brain disorder.
Noah grew up in an academic household in which he learned to think deeply and care greatly about the world around him. Trained in biology by his father, Peter Moyle, a fish biologist at UC Davis, and in creative writing by his mother, Marilyn Moyle, a high school English teacher, he learned at an early age not only to ask questions beyond his years, but also to write clearly and convincingly. Such skills earned him acclaim as a child and teenager, including winning two tickets in elementary school to a UC Davis championship football game by responding to a Bob Dunning writing contest.
Noah benefited from a classic Davis childhood, playing in the parks and some open fields in West Davis in the 1970s with his sister Petrea. They would explore the still undeveloped farm fields and play hide and seek in the tall mustard flowers that filled the fields in the spring. As an older child, he roamed Davis by bike or skateboard with his friends, enjoying adventures such as jumping off the low water bridge into Putah Creek and building skate ramps to learn new tricks.
Worried his son was swimming in water mostly from UC Davis wastewater effluent, his father worked with a local citizen group, the Putah Creek Council, to restore creek flows for future generations. Following in his parents’ path as an advocate, Noah and his friends organized to speak to the City Council in support of a skate park in the 1980s, which the City eventually built in 1993. He continued his athletic pursuits in high school, lettering in cross-country, track, and skiing.
Noah traveled widely, celebrated his seventh birthday in Sri Lanka in 1981. He loved the three months of helping his father with research in rain forest streams, seeing monkeys and elephants, and learning about Buddhist philosophy. He learned about U.S. history during family car camping trips to the Midwest to visit family. As a sophomore at Lewis and Clark College he spent four months in Kenya, learning Swahili, touring the country with other students, living with an African family, and struggling to fight the onset of his illness, which forced him to come home early.
After his diagnosis with bipolar 1 brain disorder, with the support of Dr. Cap Thomson and the staff of the Pine Tree Gardens residential treatment program in Davis, he gradually regained the ability to live independently. He was proud of being able to live in his own apartment at Cesar Chavez Plaza and helped his mother with the Yolo CANVAS art class she taught there. He enjoyed helping in the garden at Lutheran Church of the Incarnation. He continued to care deeply about the world around him, always trying to develop original ideas to improve society or to bring comfort to his family and friends. He loved music, art and poetry and often recited poems from memory. His favorite poem was "For the Children" by Gary Snyder, which ends with this stanza:
To climb these coming crests
one word to you,
to you and your children:
learn the flowers
His life philosophy is best expressed in his own words from the commencement speech he gave at his high school graduation:
"It is each one of us that makes the world what it is. Always, speak from your heart with honesty. Take your life seriously. Some think it long, some think it unbearably short. But either way, let yourself work towards a goal, a dream, an ideal, a vision of the world as it might be, a place of great beauty and peace. Go, learn, be happy and full of wonder at this incredible gift called life. Make living an unrelenting journey towards a place called understanding. Always keep in mind what shape you are sculpting, what shape you are giving yourself. When material gain is gone, you will still have the most precious of all commodities -- your mind. Together, with strong will and clear, patient vision, we can shape the new world. It is entirely up to you, and to me."
Noah is survived by his mother and father, Marilyn and Peter Moyle, his sister, Petrea Moyle Marchand, his brother-in-law Vince Marchand, his nieces Maddie (21), Cordelia (12), and Romola (9), and many cousins, aunts and uncles. A celebration of his life will be held at 1 p.m. Saturday, June 1, at Lutheran Church of the Incarnation, 1701 Russell Blvd. in Davis. A reception will immediately follow in the fellowship hall of the Lutheran Church.
In lieu of flowers, please hold donations for an effort the Moyle family is organizing this summer to benefit Pine Tree Gardens, the adult residential program for the mentally ill in Davis, founded by the Williams family in the 1980s.