A Lowcountry Classic Profile Featuring ...Fern Moore

Seeing is Believing

A great philosopher once wrote, "Some things have to be believed to be seen." Fern Moore has no problem believing. Whether spontaneously speaking ("give me a microphone, and I'll give you 15 minutes or 'til the sun sets!"), renovating a home, implementing architectural designs, raising twins or starting thrift shops, she's on it!
Smothered by an array of dishes, clothes, books, flowers-only a few of the contributions to the Hospice Community Thrift Shop-Fern playfully donned a spicy pink hat, "for 'Pink,'" she laughed. "I love working here," she said, glancing about the jumbled back room of the shop. "The fun, the friendships, and the people it helps are special. Many who volunteer here have lost a spouse, and the shop's family atmosphere is comforting to them."

Sorting and pricing items are huge acts of love and just one area of responsibility for Fern at the Hospice Community Thrift Shop, organized in an amazing four month period by Fern and Joan Carey four years ago. "St. Francis Thrift Shop took much longer, but we learned a lot. This one was much easier!" said Fern. Holding up a colorful group of quilting pieces she noted, "Look at these. They were donated with a note, 'Grandma's squares.' There was no name, so we do not know who to thank. Nearly everyone's family has been touched by cancer or terminal illness, and there have been times when the contents of entire homes were donated to our shop in appreciation of Hospice Care. The community's generosity has been overwhelming, and we have been very fortunate in our growth in such a short time."

Fern whipped out a set of architectural drawings, unfolding them across the table. "We are so excited over our expansion into two adjacent units. We'll have almost 8,000 square feet, and be able to relocate our designer boutique under our roof," she explained.

She skipped out to the cash register, another area of her expertise, noticing a new arrangement of furniture on her way. "What happened to the sofa and chairs that were here?" she asked a colleague. When told they had sold, she clapped her hands, "That's what I love to hear!" she exclaimed excitedly. Switching hats often, Fern creates the newsletter, and also plans all volunteer gatherings for the Hospice Community Thrift Shop, which donated over $52,000 to Hospice in 2007. She and husband, Jim, a respected investment advisor with UBS, wanted something they could do together and chose to assist with Hospice awareness. A retired Colonel, Jim began his work with Hospice in 1996, and a few years ago, started the Hospice Foundation. The charity has been their focus since their move to Hilton Head Island. "Our dream is to soon have a lovely Hospice home in our area," said Fern.

Fern, a Manhattan baby, never minded moving about during her 40 years of marriage, and when Jim retired, she was ready to go again! "I love an adventure!" she said. "Love starting over in new places."
Little did she know the exciting life she would lead when she fell in love one summer with the handsome nineteen-year-old lifeguard. After Fern obtained her degree, and Jim received his English degree and a master's in theology, they took the marriage plunge-the beginning of the best adventure of her life!

"Jim enlisted in the Air Force in the heat of the Vietnam conflict. We were stationed in Bermuda for further training, and I taught in the Dept. of Defense School before our twins, Sarah and Jennifer, were born there," Fern said. "After a year, Jim was deployed to Vietnam. I had the choice of returning home or remaining with the 'Waiting Wives' program established in Bermuda. With two young babies, I felt it wiser to go home," she reflected. "I was not aware of how unpopular the war was, and I was truly proud Jim had volunteered to defend our country. The twins had their first birthday while he was gone, and my favorite photo after he returned is of the girls sitting on his knees while he read them the New York Times! He felt it was a great way to communicate and get to know them," she laughed.

The Moores lived all over the world during Jim's Air Force career-Turkey twice, Germany, five tours in D.C. where Jim obtained his law degree, and the last few years before his retirement at the United Nations. During their years of travel, Fern, a West Virginia University education graduate taught, became vice principal of a Maryland school and managed several stores and businesses. "Whatever job was available, I took!" she said.
Fern's mother, Nora Bottari, was an accomplished artist, and Fern inherited her gift of art, creating arrangements with furniture, crafts, and dollhouses. "When we lived in Turkey, there was no TV, so Jim built the girls a magnificent dollhouse, eight feet long and three stories high! It entertained all of us for hours furnishing and arranging it just right!" Fern explained.

Recently completing an extensive renovation of their home, the Moores insist, "You either stick it out or move out. Either way it is imperative to be there every day to oversee any unusual happenings." Their adoring four-legged friends, Henry and Tina, relieved that their Joe Bowler portrait was spared, were happy when the excitement was over. The adventurous Fern said she recently had a request from Jim, who reluctantly tolerated the disturbance in the order of things. "He begged me to redo the dollhouse instead of ours next time!"

With lots of goals and wearing multiple hats, Fern doesn't have time for the family dollhouse anymore. She loves and laughs with six grandchildren whom she says provide her with much joy. She is striving to make the Hospice Thrift Shop even better, to steal a moment, to get lost in a period of mystery, to capture her busy husband for evening movies and their upcoming 12-day exotic Asian cruise. Action sculpts Fern and Jim's lives, and their practice of the art of believing brings good into visibility.