Margaret Mead once said, “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.” She could have been describing longtime Santa Claran and community activist Jackie Moore, who died July 11 at the age of 92. “Do the work and don’t give up,” she often told people.
Moore was born in her grandparents Duke and Annie Thompson’s home in Bardstown, Ky. and lived with them until she started high school in Louisville in l935, when she went to live with her parents, Howard and Stella Cundiff.
After graduating from the University of Louisville, she began work in Louisville’s Public Works Department. She came to Santa Clara more than 50 years ago and worked as a Housing Officer for Moffett Naval Air Station, retiring from the base in 1981.
Moore made retirement a new beginning. For 30 years, she devoted herself to changing her world, and making Santa Clara a better and more beautiful place to live. “Her enthusiasm for living was infectious to everyone who knew her,” says longtime friend Michelle Castro.
“Jackie had eyes that sparkled, particularly when she was saying something that was a little saucy,” recalls Moore’s friend Teresa O’Neill, with whom she shared a hotel room at a Sister Cities Conference in Washington D.C. “She had a very sharp wit and was no prude!” And, O’Neill notes, salted private conversations with certain less-than-polite expressions to great effect.
Democratic party politics was one of the arenas where Moore worked to improve the lives of others. “Jackie had a strong sense of justice and expended a lot of her time and treasure in trying to secure justice for everyone,” says O’Neill. “I tremendously respected that she spent so much of her retirement fighting to improve our community. She was extremely interested in achieving universal health care and worked on that issue for years.”
Although she worked on some hotly contested political campaigns, she always acted on the precept that you catch more flies with honey than vinegar. And, she always believed the best of her opponents, until they demonstrated otherwise (and in those cases, the sharp wit was ready at hand).
“We worked on voter registration together and looked at how else we could get people more involved in helping the community,” says O’Neill. “One weekend when the [Democratic] club scheduled to do some voter registration, Jackie went out in the 90-plus degree heat and walked door to door and up flights of stairs to knock on doors and ask people to register to vote.
“She also was a strong supporter of keeping the BAREC site as open space or with agriculture,” O’Neill continues. “I think that sprang from her childhood and youth in Kentucky. She would often talk about how beautiful the farm was where her grandparents lived.”
Moore didn’t limit her service to electoral politics. She was just as active in her work with Santa Clara’s Cultural Commission, and her unstinting personal kindness. “I was impressed that she was still taking on learning new things and wanting to be even more of a contributor to her community as she approached 80,” says O’Neill.
Her years on city’s Cultural Commission were marked by the introduction of new events that are now regular features in the city’s calendar. She started the nearly 20 year-old summer Concerts in the Park and spearheaded the first Street Dance in 2003. In addition, Moore was a supporter of the Triton Museum of Art and was active in improving art quality and accessibility in Santa Clara.
Moore was instrumental in launching the biennial El Camino Art Banner Project and the City Hall Sculpture Exhibition, and even provided furnishings for the historic Berryessa adobe. She helped start the city’s utility box art program. And before leaving the commission, she recruited another generation of dedicated community activists to continue to support and advance these programs.
“She was truly a woman of many talents, excelled at everything she did and was recognized many times over for her achievements,” says Castro.
As if that wasn’t enough for one lifetime, Moore was active in the Santa Clara Sister Cities Association for more than a decade, serving as a director and doing much of the behind-the-scenes work that enabled Santa Clara’s many cultural student exchanges with Izumo, Japan and Coimbra, Portugal. She was also – something few people know – a championship bowler.
She was an easy person to like, says former City Council Member John McLemore, who worked with Moore on many political campaigns. “She never asked anything thing of you except to do the right thing.”
Moore was preceded in death by her first husband, Marion Boyd, her second husband, Henry Williams and her third husband, Edward Moore. She is survived by stepson, Bob Moore, of Himeji, Japan and his family.
A Celebration of Life service will be held Friday, July 18 at 11:30 a.m. in the Triton Museum’s Sculpture Gardens, 1505 Warburton Ave. in Santa Clara. Moore will be buried at Resthaven Memorial Park in Louisville, in her family plot.
In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to the Triton Museum in Moore’s memory (www.tritonmuseum.org).