By Terry Borders
JPI Freelance Writer
Eugene Moore was a quiet, humble, gentle man that even his family knew little about his war experience for many years. According to his granddaughter, Kayce Moore-Woods, he spent his life dedicated to his family, his faith, and his country. Those sentiments are echoed in various forms regardless of who you ask about him. While it’s true he was a war hero, he was so much more to so many.
Despite the fact that he won several distinguished awards, including the Purple Heart and the Knight of the Legion of Honor Medal from the French Legion for his service and injuries sustained in battle in the Rhineland area of France, he viewed his service to his country very matter-of-factly. He was quoted in a previous newspaper article as saying, “That’s what you trained for, you knew what to expect.” And about his time on the front lines, he said, “You’d run into the enemy here and you’d just do the best you can.”
Eugene Moore passed away on July 3, 2023, at the age of 97. Moore was known to his friends as Gene and according to Moore-Woods, he was known around town as “the little old man who walked S. Green St.” She said he walked two miles each day until the Covid shutdown. He also walked at TJ Pavilion and drove his little truck until covid hit. One of the sayings Moore-Woods remembers most about him is, “If you quit moving, you’ll go downhill.” And he kept moving until the pandemic-related restrictions.
“He was sharp as a tack until his dying day,” according to Moore-Woods, despite his health really declining in November 2022. “He couldn’t hear or see very well, but he remembered everything!” She said he was the type of grandfather who spoiled his grandkids but more importantly, he got down on the floor and played with them. When she was a child visiting with him, he’d sit in the recliner and miraculously each time, coins fell out of his pockets! He always told her she could keep whatever she could find. As an adult, she asked him once if the coins really fell out of his pockets and he replied, “What do you think?” she reminisced with a smile.
Debora Jeffries Reece, DAV Auxiliary Past State Commander, echoed those sentiments. “My best memories of Mr. Moore include his sweet smile and gentleness. When they visited schools for Veterans Day celebrations, you could tell he loved the kids. And, how he loved patriotism. When he received awards, he was always so humble.”
Reece continued, “The last Memorial Day, he came to the ceremony and I talked to him awhile. I knew he had been very sick. But, as I talked to him and handed him a flag, I saw what I realized many today don’t have. It was a respect in how he looked at the little flag, how he held it. It’s what I see missing in so many today. Patriotism. I will miss his presence and his smile. But especially the look of patriotism. The look only a man who would have given his life for the country – his family back home – he loved.”
Another of his fellow DAV honor guard members, Jay Harville, called him his mentor. “He took me under his wing and taught me everything about being a part of the honor guard. He really cared about his veterans,” Harville shared.
Another DAV honor guard member, Roy Peña, emphasized Moore’s dedication to honoring veterans. “He was 94 when I met him and his stamina really impressed me. He could handle the guns and hung in there no matter how hot or how cold it was.” Peña said Moore had a great sense of humor and he was glad Moore was able to come to the last Veterans’ dinner so he got to see him again.
Peña also told about visiting Moore at his home. He said, “We’d see his caregiver laying peanuts out from the street leading up to Gene’s chair. He loved to feed the squirrels and they’d eat the line of peanuts all the way up to him.”
Moore-Woods said her grandfather has had squirrels coming to eat since she was a little girl. “He has gotten a few in the past to eat them out of his hand. He had one named Charlie years ago that would actually come inside the door to get his.”
Moore was born in Monroe County on November 6, 1925, one of 13 children. He grew up working on the family farm in Barren County until he was drafted into the army shortly after his 18th birthday. He spent more time in VA hospitals having surgeries and recovering than he did in active service. He reported for duty on Feb. 18, 1944, was injured in battle on Feb. 24, 1945, and was then hospitalized intermittently until his discharge on April 8, 1946. Moore lost his left eye and sustained a shoulder injury when a shell burst in a tree above his foxhole position, resulting in shrapnel causing a hole in his helmet and hitting him across his face and down his left shoulder.
When Moore was 86, the Glasgow Daily Times did an article about his war experience. Moore-Woods said this was the most information even her dad, Gary Eugene Moore, had heard about his father’s war experience. She said her grandfather was a quiet, humble, reserved man who never talked about what happened to him during the war, so it was enlightening to read about it.
When he returned home from the war, it was difficult to find work at factories or get insurance due to his war injuries. Upon discharge from the army, after a brief return to farming, he went into construction and worked at that his entire career except for about ten years when he worked on cars. When he did mention the war or his injuries, he was never bitter about it.
The grandfather she knew and loved was a carpenter who built many houses in Barren County. The last house he built was her brother’s home in 2001.
Moore was married to his wife, Nelda, for 69 years. Mrs. Moore passed away in 2017. They had one son, Gary; two grandchildren, Kerry Moore and Kayce Moore-Woods; and later two great-granddaughters, Emma Rae Moore and Josey Claire Moore. Moore-Woods said her father was so much like his father that losing her grandfather was almost like losing her father all over again. Gary Moore passed away in 2015.
Dale Copas, a fellow member of Dover Missionary Baptist Church at Etoile, conducted Moore’s funeral service and spoke so fondly of him. “He was a quiet man, very reserved but with a loving strength you could feel. He was a pleasure to be around. Moore would do his best to help anyone who came to him for help. He was honest-hearted and never mislead anyone about anything,” he said.
According to Copas, Moore was saved by grace and baptized at Dover church in 1961 and continued to faithfully serve the Lord and his church ever since. “It really bothered him that he couldn’t attend services during the past few years. He was devoted to God, country, church, family, friends, and neighbors. Gene was a man of few words. Even his testimony was always simple but to the point. You knew it was real.”
One of the things Moore-Woods said her grandfather loved was his chewing tobacco! She also said he loved to sit outside and enjoy the fresh air. Even when he was at the Shanti Niketan Hospice Home, he would go outside whenever he could. When he was declining he wasn’t much interested in eating so she’d try to tempt him with things he loved and new food to try. “He was 97 years old when he first ate Mexican food!” she chuckled. He loved Butterfinger blizzards so I’d take them to him whenever I could.”
Towards the end of his life, he told her, “I’m ready to go home.” When she explained that he couldn’t go back to his house, he replied, “I understand. I’m ready to go home.” He had peace about dying.
Eugene Moore was definitely a war hero, but more than that, he was a patriot, a devoted Christian, a giving community member, and a loving family patriarch. His loss will be continually felt by his family, his friends, and the community.