Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

The Rev. Shields Moore founded the chaplain program at Tampa airport

The Rev. Shields “Corky” Moore served as an airport chaplain for a dozen years, slowing down only when his kidneys failed.

Joseph Garnett Jr. | Times (2007)

The Rev. Shields “Corky” Moore served as an airport chaplain for a dozen years, slowing down only when his kidneys failed.

ST. PETERSBURG — As employees of Tampa International Airport struggled through their workdays in the aftermath of the Sept. 11 attacks, the Rev. Shields "Corky" Moore comforted them.

"Pray with us," they would tell him. "We're afraid to be here."

And he did. He listened to their worries, lightened the mood with a joke, offered a tissue or just rested an oversized hand on a shoulder.

Three years prior, the Rev. Moore had successfully lobbied for a chapel at the airport and served as its first volunteer chaplain.

He took pride in the room tucked in a corner of the third floor of the main terminal, between the shuttles to Airside F and the information desk.

The Rev. Moore, an ordained Baptist minister who founded the Tampa Airport Interfaith Chaplaincy, died Saturday of a heart attack, his family said. He was 82.

Getting the airport ministry off the ground took years of lobbying. The Rev. Moore got the idea while working as an airport limo driver. He attended meetings with chaplains at other airports and urged the airport authority to allow a similar program in Tampa. In 1998, he got his wish. The room with the stained glass window was one of the only places in the airport not reachable by the public address system.

It was called a chapel, as he had wanted — not a "quiet room," the preferred term early on.

Nonetheless, chaplains, both lay and ordained people who represented Christianity, Judaism and Islam, were to stay away from religious literature or the display of religious symbols, and to refrain from proselytizing.

The chapel provided travelers comfort.

"A lot of people traveling are traveling because something catastrophic has happened in their lives or the lives of their family members," said Joel Moore, 44, the Rev. Moore's son. "When those people lay over in an airport, (the chapel) gave them a resource."

When an elderly man died in an airport restroom, the Rev. Moore arranged for round-the-clock support for his widow. He conducted a memorial service for an airline employee who was murdered, and married a New Jersey couple at baggage claim where they had met.

"You never knew when you went to an airport what you were going to find," said Sue Moore, 77, the Rev. Moore's wife and the second chaplain to enter the program.

Born in Richmond, Va., the Rev. Moore moved to Tampa at age 13. He graduated from the University of Florida and the New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary.

He met Sue in 1953, while serving as associate pastor at Riverside Baptist Church in Tampa. "He spent the evening telling me knock-knock jokes," his wife said.

The Rev. Moore worked for the Commission of Community Relations in Tampa and the Community Service Foundation in St. Petersburg. Along the way, he volunteered as the first chaplain for the city of Tampa's Fire Department.

He was the kind of father who could drag his family on spur-of-the-moment camping trips, cash in soda bottles for a drive-in movie and popcorn, or feed the family with his catch from a homemade cast net.

He served as an airport chaplain for a dozen years, slowing down only when his kidneys failed.

Around the chaplain's inception, the Rev. Moore put out a wooden book with plain white paper. He thought visitors might use it like a guest book, perhaps make notes about where they had come from or where they were headed.

Instead, they filled it with prayer requests.

At the Moores' home Tuesday, family members lugged two boxes stuffed with prayer requests from another room. They are written in English, Spanish, French, Arabic and Greek.

"Please protect my wife and daughter. Amen."

"Help my son to let go and let God."

"Please give me what I need, a second chance with my family, my children and my life. Give me the strength and courage to face adversity as I return home."

Sept. 11, 2001: "What a sad day for humanity."

Sept. 14, 2001: "God bless us all and keep us safe."

"Let there be peace on earth."

In the middle of that batch appears this note in an odd blue scrawl: "And when you shall hear of war and rumors of wars, don't be afraid."

His wife studied the entry and nodded her head.

It is the Rev. Moore's handwriting.

Andrew Meacham can be reached at (727) 892-2248 or


The Rev. Shields Evans 'Corky' Moore

Born: Sept. 10, 1929

Died: April 21, 2012

Survivors: wife Susan; sons Joel, Paul and Marvin Moore; daughter Marci Moore; eight grandchildren; several great-grandchildren, nieces and nephews.

Service: 5:30 p.m. Thursday; Azalea Baptist Church, 7900 22nd Ave. N, St. Petersburg. Visitors received starting at 4:30 p.m.

The Rev. Shields Moore founded the chaplain program at Tampa airport 04/24/12 [Last modified: Tuesday, April 24, 2012 11:14pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Rays late-night bullpen shuffle: Alvarado, Pruitt down; Kolarek up


    The Rays shuffled their bullpen again after Tuesday's game, sending down struggling LHP Jose Alvarado along with RHP Austin Pruitt to Triple-A Durham, and turning next to LHP Adam Kolarek, who will make his major-league debut at age 28,

  2. Tampa Bay Times honored for top investigative story in Gerald Loeb annual business awards


    The Tampa Bay Times was a co-winner in the investigative category for one of the highest honors in business journalism.

    Tampa Bay Times current and former staff writers William R. Levesque, Nathaniel Lash and Anthony Cormier were honored in the investigative category for their coverage of "Allegiant Air" in the 60th Anniversary Gerald Loeb Awards for Distinguished Business and Financial Journalism. 


  3. Pasco woman gives birth to child fathered by 11 year old, deputies say


    A Port Richey woman was arrested Tuesday, nearly three years after deputies say she gave birth to a child fathered by an 11-year-old boy.

    Marissa Mowry, 25, was arrested Tuesday on charges she sexually assaulted an 11-year-old and gave birth to his child. [Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office]
  4. For good of the Rays, Tim Beckham should embrace move to second

    The Heater

    PITTSBURGH — The acquisition of slick-fielding shortstop Adeiny Hechavarria said a lot of things, most notably that the Rays are serious about making in-season moves to bolster their chances to make the playoffs, with a reliever, or two, next on the shopping list.

    PITTSBURGH, PA - JUNE 27:  Tim Beckham #1 of the Tampa Bay Rays celebrates with teammates after scoring during the eighth inning against the Pittsburgh Pirates at PNC Park on June 27, 2017 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images) 700011399
  5. St. Petersburg showdown: Kriseman faces Baker for first time tonight at the Rev. Louis Murphy Sr.'s church

    Local Government

    A standing-room-only crowd packed a Midtown church banquet hall Tuesday to witness the first face-off between Mayor Rick Kriseman and former mayor Rick Baker in what is a watershed mayoral contest in the city's history.

    Former Mayor Rick Baker, left, is challenging incumbent Mayor Rick Kriseman, right, to become St. Petersburg mayor.