With his mind yet sharp and spirit at peace, ready for what lay beyond the release from his failing body, Jack Middleton Moores passed away March 19, 2023, at home in Broomfield, Colorado, in the embrace of family. Self-reliance, strength of character, entrepreneurial spirit, and enduring faith had guided Jack throughout a grand, 89-year-long lifetime.
Snapshots from a small-town Arkansas upbringing: a lumber mill as playground, Jack sledding down a hill of sawdust. Later, the mill as training ground, Jack earning money stacking lumber and learning to drive a tractor. An Ozark Mountain swimming hole, taking a cliffside plunge to snuff out summer’s stifling heat. A pocketknife for carving. An attic table arranged with model airplane and car parts, glue, and paint, imagining where it all could lead.
Early family life snapshots: A stoic father, who hadn’t stopped working since quitting ninth grade to build caskets in a factory and support the family after his dad had fallen ill, impressing on Jack the honor in labor. Jack nailing together bomb boxes and his mother stenciling them in support of the World War II effort. A mother whose example solidified in Jack his devotion to faith and family, appreciation of life’s finer things, and ability to suffer life’s losses with grace. A younger brother who would challenge Jack’s sensibilities and who would connect him one day with a church that articulated his innate belief in God’s boundless love. A church, too, where Jack would meet his soulmate.
Transitioning to adulthood, eager to make his life a success, Jack took the requisite steps. A degree in chemical engineering from the University of Colorado in Boulder. Marriage, to Ann McKamy. Birth of sons, Jim and Bruce. A job overlooking the rebuild of a sawmill in Rock River, Wyoming. Becoming a lumber salesman, traveling roads and train tracks to vanishing horizons across great plains and western mountains. The horizons shifted when Jack and family settled in Omaha: moving up in the lumber company, integrating into Omaha’s high society, building a trophy home. Then life whisked Jack to Chicago. Swept up in the company that had acquired the lumber business in Omaha, he entered the maze of corporate America and discovered it had no appeal – renting a house, commuting downtown, obeying corporate dictates while tethered to a desk. It was then that Jack flipped the script.
A foreshadowing: Years earlier in Omaha, Thanksgiving dinner coming to an end, Jack leans back from the table and lights a cigarette. Inhales. He was born on Thanksgiving, always saw it as his birthday despite the date changing every year, and relished it as a gift – its preparation and setting, using heirloom China, silverware and cutlery, gathering with family, expressing thanks, finally eating. He exhales. Witnessing it, Jack realizes. He had rushed through the meal for this smoke. The haze spreads above the table. His disgust begins to burn. A cigarette has usurped what he loves about the day and its meaning. Damned if its addictive and false satisfaction would control him, he stubs it out. No more.
Two years into the corporate job, Jack learned about an investment group that had purchased a lumber manufacturing company. Someone was needed to run it, and Jack seized the opportunity. He knew lumber and the business of it. Plus, his military service had prepared him. At the start of his junior year of high school in Omaha, Jack joined the Reserve Officers Training Corps (ROTC). That led to five more years in ROTC at college then a commission in Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri, as a Second Lieutenant in the U.S. Army. The sum of the training had given Jack hands-on experience in procurement, mission, strategy, people management, change management. Skills he could use to run a business. Soon the family left Chicago for South Dakota. The manufacturing plant was in Woonsocket, but Jack settled the family in the bigger community of Huron, population 10,000 and about 20 miles away. Jack did not mind this commute. He got to drive.
Initiative was one of his defining traits, and Jack pursued his interests undaunted. He was a gentleman and had a mentor in the owner of a haberdashery in Boulder, who showed Jack how to dress, appreciate wine, and present himself in a way that reflected timeless quality. Wanting to express the majesty he admired in the Colorado mountains, Jack made friends with a painter he revered, who taught Jack to develop his technique and use it to express what stirred his soul. Jack taught himself to sail, starting with a tiny boat on Lake Michigan. He honed his skills on Lake Dillon in the Colorado mountains and tested them in the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans, including an 11-day journey where he joined an international crew that sailed an antique boat from St. Martin in the Caribbean to Newport, Rhode Island. Jack approached his career as he did sailing: confident that with his understanding of the craft and ability to navigate the conditions he could get where he wanted to be.
His initiative coupled with his ability to spot opportunity, take calculated risks, and keep his promises guided Jack throughout his career. He ran the South Dakota manufacturing business successfully, even rebuilding it after a fire burned the plant to the ground. Jack next moved the family to Denver where he built from scratch a real estate development and management enterprise in Casper, Wyoming – a commute that would prove to be auspicious.
Of all the agreements, commitments and partnerships Jack honored in his life, one towered over the others: his marriage to Joan Garnett. They met when Jack was at a crossroads. His first marriage was over. Almost every workday of every week found Jack in Casper focused on his real estate deals. Every Sunday back in Denver, he attended Unity Church. There he found a North Star in its teachings and the sermons of the minister, Jim Lewis. He deeply studied Unity’s lessons in truth and fully believed its message of divine order. Joan would be his proof. Jack knew her from church. As an usher, he escorted Joan to her seat. She was an airline stewardess. When he boarded the commuter plane to Casper, Joan was there to take his ticket. Coincidental or preordained, from then on Jack and Joan were always there for each other, complete complements for more than 40 years. Joan’s laugh brought him joy. She shared Jack’s love of country and freedom. They held the same conservative ideals. They had a son, Andrew, grew a tight-knit family, and grew together in their faith.
A testament of their bond involved one of Jack’s businesses. After he was bought out of the real estate development company, Jack and a friend formed a partnership and purchased a company in Wisconsin. It manufactured the paper cones used in loudspeakers. For 20 years, he helped the business prosper and compete against global firms. It came to an unexpected and abrupt demise, forced into dissolution by the unscrupulous actions of a bank and judge based on unproved claims of the company’s insolvency. Jack was sued personally in the process. Fighting to protect his belongings and reputation even after the company was gone was devastating, financially and emotionally. Still, Jack and Joan needed to make ends meet while the matter unfolded. They decided to focus on the one bit of income they had, from a natural gas pipeline outside of Duncan, Oklahoma. The pipeline had long been a minor investment, a diversification of Jack’s portfolio. Now it was to become his sole business and their primary financial support.
Moving to Duncan meant returning to familiar territory for Jack, not far from the area of his upbringing. It was the type of place where he felt most at home, where a look in the eye and a handshake were a commitment as binding as a signed document. That’s not to say that building their new life in Duncan was easy. For Joan, Denver was home. She had left family and friends behind for small-town Oklahoma. Jack was in his 70s. Nonetheless, they methodically pieced together deals, added to the original pipeline, and eventually owned and operated a swath of gas and oil infrastructure west of town. It required looking up records at the county clerk’s office, figuring out how to buy and sell gas at a profit, meeting their regulatory requirements, and keeping up with obligations as they came due. It also required paying regular and constant attention to the lines, so Jack and Joan bounced across miles of red dirt fields in an old truck, crossed creeks, ducked under barbed wire, climbed structures, dug trenches, and learned to read and repair meters, change and read charts, and fix leaks.
The case in Wisconsin finally concluded with the state’s supreme court absolving Jack of wrongdoing. Clearing his name had come at a great cost, yet the case turned out to be deeply rewarding because of how Jack and Joan embraced the opportunity in Duncan. Jack had always preferred being in business for himself, and the pipeline fulfilled his desire beyond his imagination, particularly with Joan at his side. Finding meaning in what they were accomplishing with the pipeline business, Jack and Joan saw the episode as a lesson that God had provided, knowing that they could handle it. Instead of pursuing retribution for what was lost, they chose to show through their example the value of honest work, the power of keeping faith and the righteousness of forgiveness.
When Jack turned 80, he and Joan retired, sold the pipeline business and returned to Denver. With an unburdened view of the Rocky Mountains’ front range from the Pikes Peak region to Wyoming, their home in the community of Broomfield was an ideal retreat for Jack. In reflection, he focused on his faith. He said he was born with absolute belief in God. That his belief had grown as his realization of God’s presence in his life had grown, that following God’s guidance had always produced a perfect result, and that God’s peace was in him and with him eternally.
Jack’s prayer was always one of thanks, especially for his family. In addition to his relationship with Joan, Jack found tremendous joy raising his sons. He helped them pursue their diverse interests, be the best versions of themselves, and know that they were loved, always. His unconditional love extended to his daughters-in-law and grandchildren. Jack was preceded in death by his father Francis Marion Moores, his mother Mary Louise Middleton Moores, their daughter Elizabeth Ann Moores who perished before Jack was born, and his brother William Thorne Moores. He is survived by his beloved wife Joan Garnett Moores; son Andrew Charles Moores, Andrew’s wife Rachel Rufenacht Moores and their children Jack and Henry Moores; son James McKamy Moores, James’ wife Ann Utley Moores and their daughter Lena Louise McKamy Moores; and son Bruce Middleton Moores, Bruce’s wife Samantha Morrisey Moores and their children Luke, Katherine, and Grace Moores. After giving thanks for his family, Jack would pray: Thank you, God, for the lessons, thank you for the personal growth, and thank you for your comfort, strength, light and love. Amen.
A Committal service with military honors will be held for Jack on May 26th, 2023 at 11:00 am at Fort Logan National Cemetery. To those who are attending: meet at Staging Area A, approximately 15 minutes prior to the service time and a procession to the shelter will follow.
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