She Could Have Been A Comedienne
Actually, Judy Moore is something of a comedienne, very quick with one-liners and full of funny stories. And she has spent the last 18 years as “a mouth on the mike,” as she so quaintly puts it. She’s one Englewood denizen who has been anything but invisible to her neighbors and strangers alike. That’s because she has been the public face of the Englewood Performing Arts Series (widely known as EPAS) since just after the start of the new millenium.
And if you don’t know Judy, maybe you know her husband, Tom Moore, who served on the board of the Englewood Water District and the Lemon Bay League, was president of the Grove City Civic Association and was a Charlotte County Commissioner from 2004 to 2008. It’s hard to know one Moore without knowing the other one.
Born in Camden, N.J. to John Bennett, an optician, and his wife Mildred, Judy was 5 years younger than her older sister Marion (now deceased) and 7 years older than her younger brother David. “Our births were so far apart, it was like having an only child three times,” Judy reckons. “And being the middle child was reflected in everything I did. Mom always said I was a street angel and a house devil.”
The family moved to West Chester, Pa. when she was an infant, and Judy went through the West Chester school system. “I got very good grades because I schmoozed all my teachers, and it worked,” she says proudly. She first met husband-to-be Tom when she was 14 and a freshman in high school. “He dated all my girlfriends, and he often asked me for advice on what kind of present to buy for his current sweetheart. We became best friends, and that’s still true today.” The “best friends” relationship remained the case until Judy went off to college at Penn State. During the spring semester she started dating Tom, who was also attending Penn State, and the friendship blossomed into a romance.
In fact, Tom and Judy got married shortly before she turned 19, to the dismay of her mother. “She told me it would never last. We were too young,” Judy remembers. Well, Tom and Judy celebrated their 60th wedding anniversary in 2018. They stayed in Pennsylvania for most of their married life, where they raised two children, Nancy Lynn and Steven.
Around 1970 Tom bought a 100-acre farm near West Chester. It wasn’t a working farm, and it hadn’t been well cared for, but they were able to lease about half of the acreage to a farmer who raised corn, and they lived in a tenant house on the property while the main house was being renovated. Tom traveled quite a bit as a salesman for Gulf+Western, so Judy tended to the property and raised the kids. She has many stories about her farm life: sleeping on Army cots, mucking the horse stalls, surviving the ardors of winter, buying a pony named Daniel for the kids (“my son wanted a duck”), and eventually selling the farm after 11 years at a handsome profit. That’s not counting the sale of Daniel, the pony, to a friend for a case of Michelob. “Farm life was an amazing experience, and I’m glad I had it” she says, “but I wouldn’t want to go back to it.”
Tom and Judy were fortunate that they always did well in real estate. Besides their house in West Chester and the farm, they sold other properties. “We bought a house on the shore in Ocean City for $56,000 and spent a lot of weekends and summers there for 23 years,” Judy remembers. “When we sold it, we got $450,000 for it.” That gave a healthy boost to their retirement savings.
And once the kids were off to prep school and college, Judy was gainfully employed at Briggs-Valcon, a family-owned manufacturer’s rep business. She handled the payables, receivables, payroll, taxes and the purchase of company automobiles and insurance. “I love numbers,” she says, “and that was not Tom’s strong suit. He was a great salesman, and I took care of the numbers.” All that experience would help her in later years when she headed up operations at EPAS.
Not one to sit idle, Judy spent some serious time in volunteer activities, giving back to the community. While in Pennsylvania, she served for two years as director of the Chester County motor pool of the Red Cross, which provided transportation for rural county residents to regional hospitals and clinics. “These were the elderly, the poor and the crippled children who couldn’t otherwise get to a facility for care. I did a lot of the driving myself,” she says. For another five years she was a volunteer with the Red Cross Bloodmobile, usually in the Bloodmobile itself with the donors and nurses. And she was secretary on the board of her homeowner’s association in West Chester. That was a preface to her volunteer work after she and Tom retired in 1998.
“We had bought a house in Englewood in 1992, but we didn’t move into it until our retirement six years later,” she says. “The first thing we did was go out and join a country club. That was the only way we were going to meet people. We were still young, and where we lived, the highlight of the day was when everyone got into their motorized wheelchairs and went out to get the mail.”
One of the new people who befriended them was Dewey Snowden, who was on the board of EPAS, a nonprofit 501(c)3 organization. He suggested to Judy that she join the board to continue her volunteer activities. She liked the idea, applied and was accepted by then-president Orville (“the second ‘t’ is silent”) Splitt. “And the day I started, Dewey resigned,” she laments. That was in 2001. Orville showed Judy the ropes that first year, and the second year he made her vice president in charge of, well, everything. “I did the programming, published the annual brochure, went to trade shows to see previews and talk with the performers’ agents,” she says. “I went to Atlanta, Pittsburgh, Baltimore, Memphis, Baton Rouge, some places I’d never been before.”
Judy negotiated the agreements with agents as well. “EPAS did seven shows a year, the last one always featuring the Sarasota Orchestra,” she says. “We signed some really good people.” Her favorite might have been Victor Borge, the Danish humorist and musician who was dubbed the “Clown Prince of Denmark.” But there were many others: the original Irish tenors, the Kingston Trio, the Brothers Four, Glen Miller, Tommy Dorsey, to name a few. “Our mission was to bring quality entertainment to the people of Englewood at a reasonable price,” she remarks. “I loved the music. I loved doing the job.”
And do it she did. Orville called her “manna,” as in “manna from heaven.” After Orville died, Judy stayed on as vice president of EPAS when Jim Baines became the new president. But she continued to do all the things she had been doing on her own for eight years as president. “The pay didn’t change,” she jokes. “The pay isn’t good as a volunteer, but it’s kept me out of bars.”
In 2017 Judy stepped down from the EPAS board, though she has not exactly retired. “I still write the programs for the individual shows and announce the evening shows. I enjoy it and nobody else wants to do it, but I have a love affair with the audience.” You can bet that, as actress Teri Garr said in Young Frankenstein, “the feeling iss moochual.”
Dean Laux is exploring interesting folks living in our community. If you know of anyone with an interesting background please send an email to: firstname.lastname@example.org. Include the person’s name, contact info and give a brief description of the person's background.