The son of Samuel David and Eva Wittstein Moonitz was born on October 31, 1910, in Cincinnati, Ohio. He attended the public schools in Cincinnati, and he graduated from Withrow High School in 1927. He attended the University of Cincinnati for two years (1927-29); he withdrew for financial reasons. After working two years (1929- 31) for a bank in Sacramento, he decided to pursue his college education at the University of California, Berkeley from which he received a bachelor's degree in 1933.
After graduation he worked most of 1934 as a commercial bookkeeper for the Federal Land Bank of Berkeley. In the fall of 1934 he returned as a student to the University of California, Berkeley and remained until 1937. During this time he completed a master's degree (1936) and the qualifying examinations for the doctorate degree. While teaching full-time at the University of Santa Clara (1937-42), he completed the requirements for the doctorate degree (1941) at the University of California, Berkeley. In 1942 he moved from Santa Clara to Stanford University where he taught until he resigned in 1944 to become a staff accountant with Arthur Andersen & Co. He was certified as a CPA in 1945 (California). He left Arthur Andersen in 1947 to return to the University of California, Berkeley as an associate professor (1947-53); he was promoted to professor in 1953.
During the period 1955-59 he served as the first associate dean of the university's newly-formed Graduate School of Business Administration. He took a leave from the university in 1955-56 to go with Arthur Andersen & Co. to refresh his knowledge of public accounting. Another leave was taken in 1960-63 to serve as director of accounting research of the AICPA. He returned to Berkeley and while serving on the faculty during the period of 1963-66, he also served as a member of the APB. He took a two-year leave from the university in September of 1966 to serve as founding director of the Lingnan Institute of Business Administration of the newly-formed Chinese University of Hong Kong.
Directly following his Hong Kong assignment, he went to New Zealand in the summer of 1968 as an Erskine Scholar attached to the University of Canterbury in Christchurch. He also visited the University of Otago in Dunedin, Victoria University in Wellington, and the University of Auckland. On the way back to the U.S., he visited Melbourne and Sydney, Australia, delivering a lecture in each city on a new interest of his--"why is it so difficult to agree upon a set of accounting principles?" Upon his return to Berkeley in 1968 he remained until he retired on July 1, 1978.
He was active in professional and civic organizations. He served as vice president (1958) and president (1978-79) of the AAA. He was a member of the AAA's Committee on Concepts and Standards (1951-57) and chairman of its successor, the Committee on Accounting Theory (1958-59). He served the East Bay Chapter of the California Society of CPAs in a variety of capacities including secretary-treasurer (1969-70), vice president (1970-71), and president (1971-72). He played an active role in the 1970 Graduate Study Conference of the State Society, editing the Proceedings. He was also editor of the California Management Review (1959-60). During the period 1944-45, he was a member of the Planning Commission of Menlo Park, California. He was a member of the Ground Observer Corps in Menlo Park, spotting flying objects for the Western Air Command (1942-44). He was also active in the affairs of Congregation Beth El, Berkeley, serving as a member of its board of directors (1951-57) and president (1952-53). He has served as an External Examiner for the University of Hong Kong (1967-70) and for the Chinese University of Hong Kong (1970-78).
A prolific scholar, he has written extensively for professional journals and he has authored a number of books and monographs including The Entity Theory of Consolidated Statements (1944), The Basic Postulates of Accounting (1961), A Tentative Set of Broad Accounting Principles for Business Enterprises with Robert T. Sprouse (1962), and Obtaining Agreement on Standards in the Accounting Profession (1974). These four publications have been translated into Japanese for distribution in that country. He was a contributing editor to the 1943 and 1956 editions of the Accountants' Handbook. He authored the two-volume intermediate series, Accounting: An Analysis of its Problems with C. C. Staehling (1952); series revised in 1963-64 with Louis Jordan. He also co-edited Significant Accounting Essays with A. C. Littleton (1965), and he edited Public Accounting--1980 (1971) and Three Contributions to the Development of Accounting Thought (1978). Additional publications include Changing Prices and Financial Reporting (1973), Market Value Methods for lntercorporate Investments in Stock with Reed K. Storey (1976), and International Auditing Standards with Edward Stamp (1978).
Elected to Phi Beta Kappa in 1933, he also holds membership in Beta Gamma Sigma and Beta Alpha Psi. He was president of the Berkeley chapter of Phi Beta Kappa during the period 1957-59. In 1974-75 he was selected as the Beta Gamma Sigma Distinguished Scholar. In 1975 he was the recipient of the Alpha Kappa Psi Foundation Accounting Award and in 1976 he received the California CPA Foundation for Education and Research, Distinguished Professor Award. The University of California, Berkeley presented him the Berkeley Citation in 1978. He was elected to the Accademia ltaliana di Economia Aziendale in 1981. In 1985 he received the Outstanding Accounting Educator Award of the AAA.
He was married to Ruth Helen Lubin in 1934; they had three children. He and his first wife parted in 1957 and in 1959 he married Lee Cynthia Daniels. His principal hobby is music. He has played the violin since he was about ten years of age. Throughout his lifetime, he has played the violin with many musical groups including symphony orchestras in Sacramento, Berkeley, and Hong Kong, and chamber music groups in California and New York.