When our shadow fades and footfalls no longer echo, the measure of our life is in those we touch who celebrate the memories they hold close. The deeds we do, things we build, and knowledge we share may write the chapters, but our story lies in those memories kept in the heart of others.
The world lost a hero Sunday evening around 6:15, as Frank Moore peacefully passed away surrounded by family in his daughter's home in Glide, Oregon. Frank would have been 99-years old this coming Sunday and leaves behind his lovely bride, Jeanne, two sons, and a daughter.
It is not my place to write an obituary for the man who landed in Normandy on D-day and fought through France, and at the Battle of the Bulge, then came home to raise a family; becoming a legend here in Oregon as an angler, conservationist, and advocate for the North Umpqua and its wild Steelhead. There are others far more qualified. I came to know Frank and Jeanne only 14-years ago, and our visits were limited to my spring/summer fishing adventures on the North Umpqua when I would stop in to take Frank fishing or sit at the table in the warm cabin and listen to the stories flow.
The cabin at the top of Moores Hill Road was a welcome stop for me when traveling through Southern Oregon, even if I wasn't fishing, and on more than a few occasions, a good reason to delay the drive up I-5. I never found Jeanne and Frank's door locked if they were home. Instead, it was always open to strangers, who soon became friends.
A mutual friend inspired my first visit, and I was hesitant to knock on the door uninvited. Luckily, Frank met me as I climbed out of my truck with a gruff "who are you?" Slightly caught off-guard, I introduced myself; he said, "I've heard of you," and reached to shake my hand. Now, if you have not experienced a Frank Moore handshake, sadly, you never will. Frank's snowy hair and weathered features camouflaged a powerful frame and firm grip that could crush the unsuspecting. Likewise, his hugs were legendary and somewhat paralyzing if one neglected to take a breath before embrace.
On one visit to the river, having survived Frank's hug, I waited as he fussed about getting gear together so we could go fishing. Jeanne slightly delayed our departure with sandwiches, but soon we were on the water.
The North Umpqua is well known to overwhelm even the strongest of waders; baptisms are common when caution waits onshore. So as we waded out to "Station," I was unsure who was helping whom negotiate the slippery ledges and strong current. Frank led the way, holding my arm to steady himself or, more likely, to keep me from filling my waders.
Each place we fished had a story. While I tried to remember all the details, they eventually blended into one experience and are forever part of my memories of this extraordinary man.
On Veterans Day, 2013, I was fishing for Salmon on the Southern Oregon coast with friends Dean Finnerty and Jason Atkinson. We were hooking a few fish and enjoying a relatively mild fall day. As I waded tidewater battling a nice fish, a voice called out from behind me, "Joel, you're doing it wrong!" I turned to see Frank and his son Frankie coming down the trail to the river. I released the fish and prepared myself for the hug I knew was imminent. An embrace I have felt every day since learning of Frank's passing.