I have had the opportunity to read some tributes to my father, Richard C. Moore, but this is the first time I’ve been asked to write one, and for that I am very grateful. My dad painted the ship portrait of the USS Gambier Bay. It was one of the earlier commissioned paintings he did and he was very gratified by both the results and the warm reception it received from the Association members.
My dad’s love of the sea was planted early on by his father who worked as a salesman for the American Hawaiian Steamship Corporation. He had very early memories of being taken to the docks in Philadelphia and we are very lucky to have an elementary school painting he did of one of the bridges. He attended the University of Pennsylvania on an NROTC scholarship and from there entered the Navy as a communications officer on the USS Saufley and the USS John Paul Jones before leaving to study theology at Princeton Seminary and returning to the Navy as a chaplain. Rather significantly, he met my mother, Toshii, a Japanese exchange student at Princeton, and it short-circuited his naval career but, ultimately, led to my brother and me. So, the Navy’s loss was our gain.
It is impossible to relate my father’s story from then on without my mother as his constant companion, best friend, significant other, and “other half”. Together, they served parishes in Pennsylvania and New Jersey for the next 30 years before retiring to Hampton, Virginia for 10 years during which time they traveled extensively to destinations near and far. While in Hampton, my father enjoyed both the proximity to the ocean and the naval culture in Norfolk and Newport News. This was a period of prolific painting, the scope of which escaped us until we had to clear out his apartment and storage lockers!
One comment, which we hear repeatedly from both artists and admirers, concerns my father’s “knack” for painting water. He was a perfectionist in many ways and it isn’t surprising that he would direct such attention to delivering realistic water in his work. He was also a tinkerer and liked to understand the things which excited him. Hence, he made his own stereo…his own telescope…his own ship models, and even dragged my mother into the California desert to find the exact filming locations of his favorite film, “Gunga Din”. I can imagine that he spent a lot of his time in the Navy staring at the water just trying to “figure it out”. Whether through intuition or study, he did seem to master it as his paintings attest. But, at the root of it all, was his love for the sea and his desire to “do it justice” in his paintings.
In his later retirement, my dad would wear naval caps, which had been given to him throughout the years. Very often, people would come up to him and thank him for his service, which he would then clarify by explaining his association to the various caps. I think he loved this connection to the Navy but he was always very reticent to accept more than his share of praise or gratitude. In the back of his mind, I don’t think he ever lost sight of the sacrifices that many veterans and their families made and continue to make and he was respectfully grateful for that. I think that was behind his pride in being associated with the Gambier Bay Association. Thank you all for making him a member of your extended family!
This tribute was provided by Mr. Moore’s son, Bill. We are so grateful for Mr. Moore and now his family for their continued support to the survivors and family members of the USS Gambier Bay VC-10 Association.
Mr. Moore passed in July 2017