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Boisterous, fitting farewell for late Pinellas teachers union chief

State Rep. Janet Long, right, and Kim Black share memories of Jade Moore at the Pinellas teachers union headquarters in Largo.

CHRIS ZUPPA | Times

State Rep. Janet Long, right, and Kim Black share memories of Jade Moore at the Pinellas teachers union headquarters in Largo.

CLEARWATER — He loved roses and Broadway musicals. He stunk at golf, though he had a whale of a time playing it.

He was an optimist, active in his church, strong in his views. He was a reader and a smiler, a pundit, a partier, a people lover.

And when it came to teachers, Jade Thomas Moore — the executive director of the Pinellas teachers union for 34 years — was no pushover.

"He fought hard for them and he loved them," Tim Moore said at a memorial service for his brother Saturday. "If you want to remember Jade, remember that love for teachers."

Pinellas County's education and political communities turned out in force to remember Mr. Moore, who died Dec. 18 at age 61 after suffering his second stroke in a year.

More than 700 people jammed Trinity Presbyterian Church in Clearwater for an hourlong service that recalled his success as a family man, his long career as an educator and the outgoing personality that endeared him to allies and adversaries alike.

The congregation included state and county officials, legislators, judges, lawyers and school system employees of every stripe — from support workers and teachers to top administrators and school board members.

In keeping with Mr. Moore's love of food and celebration, hundreds of mourners reconvened at union headquarters in Largo for an evening of eating, drinking, tears, laughter and toasts.

Guests arrived to a massive potluck spread, a full bar and a chance to talk about Mr. Moore for up to three minutes.

A DJ played Broadway hits, popular songs from the 1950s and '60s and Mr. Moore's favorite, Blue Moon by the Marcels.

"The noise is what Jade would want to have happened," his wife, Sue Moore, told the crowd. "He would want us talking to each other and drinking a whole lot."

She offered a toast: "To the best man I've known and the best man I will ever know."

Said U.S. Rep. Kathy Castor, D-Tampa: "He believed in the power of education. He believed in the power of teachers. He believed we could take this state forward."

Kim Black, president of the Pinellas Classroom Teachers Association, said Mr. Moore served with her and 12 other presidents during his tenure.

"Jade has adapted to every one of us," she said. "He has been the constant. When we were weak, he was strong."

She said his favorite part of the job was visiting schools. Black and Mr. Moore had been to 40 so far this year and planned many more visits in the upcoming semester.

"He was about bringing joy to the workplace," Black said. "He was about bringing joy to everybody he knew."

County Commissioner Susan Latvala recalled her time on the Pinellas School Board from 1992 to 2000.

"I don't know if I would have survived those eight years without Jade," she told the crowd. "He would call me to say, 'Susan, why don't you come over to the office and we'll have a drink.' It was never a 15-minute conversation."

Upstairs at union headquarters Saturday, Mr. Moore's office remained as he left it on Dec. 15, his last day of work.

An avid reader who would polish off a dozen books during vacations to North Carolina, he had three books on his desk.

The titles: I Haven't Understood Anything since 1962, Educational Conflict in the Sunshine State and The Language of God.

Mr. Moore was known in Pinellas and across the state for his knowledge of Florida's budget and politics. He took tough stances, including pushing for a teacher raise this year even as the district plunged into a deep economic hole. But he maintained a collaborative style and an optimistic outlook.

"All of us knew that Jade meant what he said, that … his views were in support of the many, not of the few, and that he would always, no matter what, stand by his beliefs," said the Rev. Victoria ByRoade, a local Presbyterian pastor who eulogized him Saturday.

"Jade Moore was a man we could trust."

Boisterous, fitting farewell for late Pinellas teachers union chief 01/03/09 [Last modified: Tuesday, January 6, 2009 7:48am]
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