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High Country Mourns Death of Tom Moore, Former Director of Resort Area Ministries

Tom and his family

Memorial services planned for beloved community leader

By Sherrie Norris

The High Country is mourning the death of Thomas “Tom” David Moore, who at 66 died January 13 following a long-time and very brave battle with Huntington’s Disease.

Best known for his 34 years as director of Resort Area Ministries, of which he was co-founder, Moore will be remembered for his countless contributions to the High Country, overall. As those who knew him best will attest, Moore’s life was dedicated to his faith, family and friends, as one always ready and willing to help anyone in need.

“Tom brought care and love for people to his work,” said Mary Dean Silver, current RAM director. “It was more than a job to him. It was his calling. Wherever he was, he gave everyone the same respect, love and care.”

Someone once asked Moore, Silver recalled, how many people had RAM saved or had made professions of faith. “Tom’s answer was that RAM planted seeds for someone else to harvest. Tom planted many, many seeds – whether in the summer ministry college students, in the winter ministry volunteers, campers in the campgrounds, mission groups, residents whose homes were repaired and volunteers in the RAM’s Rack Thrift Shop. The seeds continue to grow and spread across not only Watauga County, but our country and maybe even the world. People who have been a part of RAM have gone on to become active in their communities, ministers in churches and as missionaries.”

Silver concluded, “There are few people who have made such a lasting contribution through ‘doing good’ as did Tom Moore.”

Tom pictured with his wife

According to his obituary, provided by Austin and Barnes Funeral Services of Boone, Moore was born August 14, 1951 to Claude and Ala Mae Moore in Haywood County, and was a 1976 graduate of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.

In conjunction with his lengthy ministry through RAM, Tom was a welcome and familiar site at the area’s local ski resorts during the winter, and could be found on job sites through the summer months with special projects helping the less fortunate, as well as in local campgrounds, strumming his guitar around the campfires at night. He was also known for his ministry at Land Harbor.

Moore was the epitome of a kind, gentle and soft-spoken southern gentleman, who put the needs of others before his own, always greeting those he met with a warm smile.

Since being diagnosed with Huntington’s Disease 17 years ago, an inherited illness which also claimed the lives of his father and brother, Moore became an advocate for raising awareness of the disease. His passion for helping to find a cure led him to join efforts with Appalachian State University to establish an annual 5K, the proceeds of which have been invested in the treatment and cure for Huntington’s Disease. Through the years, the event has attracted participants both near and far, and with the help of App State’s recreation management program and the Huntington’s Disease Society of America, has raised more than $80,000 for research.

“Imagine, for a moment, you lived with someone who experiences constant mood swings, depression, forgetfulness, involuntary movements and slurred speech,” said App State’s Sherri Wilson, who worked closely with Moore in the success of the fundraising event, “someone whose mental and physical abilities, during his or her prime years deteriorates, and there is no cure. How would you cope?”

For the past 12 years, Wilson was among the group of health promotions faculty, staff and students in the university’s recreation management program who helped host the Tom Moore 5K Run/Walk to increase awareness about Huntington’s disease and raise financial support for research.

The event, Wilson said, was Moore’s idea, describing him as “husband, father, friend, minister and mentor of the High Country.”

Representing four states, numerous communities and five families affected by Huntington’s disease, Wilson said, the annual Tom Moore 5K Run/Walk hosts about 150 participants, and contributes, on average $6,500 each year to HDSA.

As a Huntington’s patient, Tom wanted the public to better understand Huntington’s disease, Wilson said. “He wanted the stigma of the debilitating condition to disappear. He participated in research studies to make a difference in the lives of families and friends who would be affected, in the future.”

Through Tom, his family, and the support throughout the communities, effective strides have been (and continue to be) made, Wilson added. “Researchers, scientists and biologists worldwide have joined forces to seek effective treatments. Although there is no cure for Huntington’s, HDSA is committed to continuing its research initiatives, in hopes of finding one.”

A memorial service for Tom Moore will be held on Saturday, January 20 at 4 p.m. at High Country United Church of Christ in Vilas. The Moore family will receive friends one hour prior to the service.

In lieu of flowers, the family has requested that donations be made to Huntingtons Disease Society of America, Resort Area Ministries or the Tom Moore Pavilion at High Country United Church of Christ. Online condolences may be shared with Toms family at the website www.austinandbarnesfuneralhome.com. Austin & Barnes Funeral Home and Crematory is serving the Moore family.


The Tom Moore Memorial 5K Run/Walk

Another way to honor the life and legacy of Tom Moore is by participating in the Tom Moore Memorial 5K Run/Walk on Saturday, April 28, beginning at 9 a.m. at Clawson-Burnley Mayors Park in Boone. This year’s goal of $12,000 will go a long way in continuing the efforts put forth by Moore and his team through the years.

For more information, visit www.hdsa.org/thwboone Walk Fundraising or contact: Sherri Wilson via email at wilsonsl@appstate.edu.