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Ripple Effect: Vic Moore’s Inspirational Influence in Durham

Vic Moore smiles in his apartment at The Forest at Duke.
Baby Vic Moore in 1935.
This sweet photo of Vic was taken circa 1935. “When I was three or four years old, I had these long curls and my mother used to take a razor and clip the curls with it. Never had a haircut,” Vic remembers. (Photo courtesy of Vic Moore)

Forest resident Vic Moore has an unassuming presence. Though he has much to say and many important stories to tell, he often remains quiet so that others may speak. The average person might be fooled by his modest manner, but Vic is, in fact, a powerhouse of influence and has left a legacy of inspiration and progress in his wake.

Born in Durham at the height of the Great Depression, Vic has called the Bull City home his entire life, despite spending a few years elsewhere. He met his future wife, Anne, at Durham High School (now Durham School of the Arts) when he was a senior, and she, a sophomore. After graduating in 1950, Vic made his way to the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill to pursue his A.B. in Radio. There he was active in the Communications Club, a member of Phi Eta Sigma, and an integral part of the WUNC staff as a student.

Beyond the DMZ

Vic finished his postsecondary education at UNC in June 1954 with a commission in the Air Force Reserve as a 2nd Lieutenant and went on active duty for three years with the United States Air Force beginning the same September.

In the Air Force, Vic was not a flying officer, though he thought he might have to be in order to be commissioned once he got into the ROTC program. On account of his vision, he was made a ground officer. While serving in the military, he maintained a strong interest in radio and television and was given an opportunity to attend a technical communications school in Biloxi, Mississippi, for a year, which he happily pursued.

Vic Moore in his high school senior photo.
Vic’s senior picture from Durham High School, as it appears in the school’s 1950 yearbook, The Messenger.

Soon thereafter he was sent to Japan as an air electronics officer for two years, joining a squadron of men who flew missions into Korea after the Korean War concluded. Taking photos at a 45-degree angle, the group of men kept up with North Korea’s troop movements on the other side of the demilitarized zone, just a few miles from where the U.S. military base was located in South Korea.

From global missions to local opportunities

Vic returned home to the States in 1957 and married his sweetheart early the following year. He remained in the Air Force in active reserve until 1967, when he retired as a Captain.

Vic worked as a salesman at local television station WTVD for 17 years, earning a promotion to Local Sales Manager in 1968. While at WTVD, he served advertising clients in Virginia and North Carolina, and even attended a few accounts in Washington, D.C. and Baltimore, Maryland. At the same time, he was active in the American Advertising Federation as Governor of the same area.

In his 40s, Vic made a significant career change by transitioning into fund development work. His first such position sprang from an opportunity that opened in the merger of Durham’s Lincoln and Watts Hospitals. The city’s formerly all-black and all-white facilities, respectively, came together as integration took place, each one nearing the end of its life as a hospital. In order to construct any kind of facility utilizing federal funds, said businesses had to be integrated. So began the legacy of Durham County General Hospital, which opened its doors on a site owned by Durham County in 1976.

Vic’s senior year picture from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, as it appears in the school’s 1954 yearbook, Yackety Yack.

As the Director of Development, Vic worked for two decades to raise money in support of the organization, establishment, construction, and eventually, the maintenance of the integrated hospital on North Roxboro Street that would much later become known as Duke Regional Hospital. From 1975 until his retirement in 1996, Vic made a big mark on the history and progress of the hospital and health center, inspired the community as a whole, and encouraged the birth of one of a significant Durham County business – an organization which ultimately became supported, in part, by The Forest at Duke.

In addition to these things, Vic was involved in raising charitable support for Lincoln Community Health Center, to construct a new building to replace the old Lincoln Hospital. This, too, became a Forest-supported facility.

“Recently I’ve been thinking about what I’ve done over the years that I’m probably most pleased about,” Vic says. “It’s a series of things. I’ve been involved with groups of people – committees and so forth – that started programs, especially programs that help people.”

Bringing the Meals on Wheels program to Durham

In 1975, Vic was a regular member of St. Philips Episcopal Church and also sat as Vice President of Durham Congregations in Action, then called Center City Church Council. Interestingly, his future fellow Forest resident, Nancy Laszlo, was President the previous year. At the time, St. Philips’s church minister’s wife worked for the Department of Social Services and heard tell of Meals on Wheels programs popping up all throughout the United States. It seemed like a great opportunity to serve one of the most basic needs of people living in Durham. Vic met with Nancy Laszlo and the minister to come up with a federal grant proposal that ultimately laid the framework to bring Meals on Wheels to Durham County.

This past spring, the local chapter held a reception for the retiring and incoming Meals on Wheels program leaders.

“The [Meals on Wheels] director for the last 10 years is the daughter of someone who’s here at The Forest – Lila Singer. She’s done a terrific job and really gotten it going in a big way,” Vic shares. “It’s growing tremendously. Helping to get that [chapter] started in 1975 was a major accomplishment.”

Anne and Vic on their wedding day in 1958. (Photo courtesy of Vic Moore)

An important service for Durham seniors

In 1992, a graduate student named Gina Upchurch (soon to be an MPH-bearing pharmacist) wrote her thesis on a program she imagined herself; called Senior PharmAssist, it would help Durham seniors pursue healthier lifestyles “by helping them obtain and better manage needed medications and by providing health education, community referral, and advocacy.”

At the time, the board of the Durham County Hospital Corporation (DCHC) was looking to initiate two new programs, including one that would benefit older people. In addition to working as part of hospital fund development, Vic was involved with a program of the DCHC called the Foundation for Better Health (FBH). To the FBH, which was interested in health promotion and prevention, Senior PharmAssist was an appealing option to reach the older adult population in Durham. Since the hospital board was also interested, the FBH began raising money to help get the program off the ground. Money from The Duke Endowment also supported Senior PharmAssist’s early beginnings. Interestingly, current Forest resident Betsy Locke was, at that time, President of the Endowment.

According to Vic, other residents at The Forest were also instrumental in helping Gina begin serving Durham seniors in such an important way. Margaret Keller, for example, was a significant figure of influence, as she served on both the DCHC and FBH boards. Along with Vic, she helped not only in getting the program started, but in getting it incorporated. Today Senior PharmAssist continues to leave a significant mark on the Durham community. Just last year, the organization provided services to more than 2,300 unique individuals, saving an average medication cost of $825 for program participants counseled during Medicare’s open enrollment period.

“We are called ‘the incorporators’ by Gina, even today,” Vic smiles.

In 2000, Vic was honored to be the recipient of Senior PharmAssist’s Howerton Leadership Award, a recognition of individuals who have “made extraordinary contributions to the health and lives of Durham residents.” It seems fitting that he and Anne would eventually retire to The Forest at Duke – one of Senior PharmAssist’s community partners and “Healthcare Catalysts” supporting their ongoing work.

Support for the Durham Rescue Mission

After retiring from his busy professional life, Vic also made time to volunteer his fundraising efforts for another important Durham institution: the Durham Rescue Mission. A faith based non-profit organization and shelter, the Rescue Mission provides programs and services – including food, clothing, Biblical counseling, permanent supportive housing, education, vocational training, job placement, and accountability – to addicted and homeless men, women, and children in the greater Triangle area.

“I started with them in about the year 2000,” Vic remembers. “One of the first things we came up with was taking over an old motel for a facility so that the women and men could be on different campuses.”

The success of this renovation meant that the organization tripled its capacity to help Triangle people affected by homelessness.

Thanks largely to Vic’s fundraising, Durham Rescue Mission was able to renovate that former motel building (previously known as the “Durham Inn”) just off I-85, turning it into what is now called the Good Samaritan Inn. Located on East Knox Street in Durham, the inn houses an average of 130 women and children each night.

In addition to his support for the $750,000 motel purchase and its subsequent $750,000 renovation, Vic was also part of two other sizable campaigns affecting the Durham Rescue Mission’s main campus.

“I feel very much appreciative of being able to be involved,” Vic beams.

Retired but still hard at work

Following his retirement from Durham Regional Hospital in 1996, Vic volunteered for a local organization called Executive Service Corps of the Triangle (ESC). There he was able to use the skills he had honed during his time in development work at the hospital. A group of retired business professionals, the members of ESC do volunteer consulting for both non-profit and government organizations.

Among the dozens of non-profit organizations Vic helped was the downtown Durham Center for Senior Life, for which he guided efforts toward the new building construction. This, too, like so many other businesses touched by Vic’s influence over the years, involved a major contribution and ongoing support from The Forest at Duke. Late Forest resident Trish Robertson was co-chair of the campaign’s individual giving effort. (Her husband, Robbie, currently lives on campus.) Vic was also on that committee, and all of their meetings were held at The Forest, giving him his first exposure to the continuing care retirement community (CCRC).

“Another ESC volunteer and I met with [current Forest resident] Peg Lewis and The Forest at Duke’s then-CEO on January 19, 2000,” Vic recalls. “The other [volunteer] and I were consulting for the Council for Senior Citizens in downtown Durham, which after it was constructed became the Center for Senior Life when the Council later changed its name.”

Still another of Vic’s ESC clients at the time was another Forest-supported organization, the Durham Rescue Mission, to whom he continued to volunteer his assistance afterward for 20 years.

Full circle at The Forest

Vic and Anne moved into their home at The Forest in June 2013. “We looked around for CCRCs and felt more comfortable visiting here. [We also] have a lot of friends who were already here,” Vic explains. “Once we got here, we found out that there were a whole lot more people that we knew that we didn’t realize were here!”

It didn’t take long for Vic to discover his favorite thing about life on campus: getting to know and interacting with the variety of different people.

After sticking with ESC for 9 years, Vic eased out of his work there in 2015. Since that time, he has continued to volunteer his services at The Forest. He recently finished six years with the New Resident Orientation Committee and helped produce the biannual “Life at The Forest” program. For two years now, he has also served as the head of the Nominating Committee for the Residents Association – a subcommittee of the Governance Committee. As such, he oversaw the process by which all Forest residents had an opportunity to nominate others to fill certain Board and officer positions.

“That was a very interesting procedure, and challenging in some ways,” Vic says. “I finished that up in October [2019]. Now I’m looking for the next opportunity at The Forest.”

Today, he and Anne continue to enjoy their home on campus, as well as phone calls from their family – two daughters, four grandchildren, and two great-grandchildren. Behind him, yet still very much a part of who he is, Vic’s legacy continues to touch Durham in positive, tangible ways. His volunteerism has served many local organizations – including Urban Ministries of Durham, Durham Habitat for Humanity, and United Way of the Greater Triangle – and his consulting work has benefited still more, like the NC Committee to Defend Healthcare and the Affordable (formerly AIDS) Community Residence Association. He previously served as President of the Durham Advertising Club, as well as of the civic and service clubs, Kiwanis and Lions. Today, in addition to continuing his efforts with the Lions, he is involved with the Durham Ministry and Engagement Team at Blacknall Memorial Presbyterian Church.

Artist and storyteller Steven James Taylor once said that everything you think and everything you do “is like a pebble dropped into water… It continues to make ripples.”

Lucky for us, because of Vic Moore’s compassionate spirit and servant leadership, Durham will continue to know his ripples for a long, long time.

Lauren Young, Marketing Specialist

Header image: Vic sits inside his fourth floor apartment at The Forest in March 2020.
(Photo by Lauren Young)