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Jack Moore known as pioneering USF leader

Published Sep. 1, 2005

Retired University of South Florida professor Jack Moore, whose career in academia lasted more than four decades, died late Wednesday at the Columbia-Presbyterian Medical Center in New York due to complications from what doctors called a "heart event." He was 69.

Mr. Moore, who received a doctorate in American literature from the University of North Carolina, was hired by USF in 1962.

During his career, he specialized in no less than seven disciplines. He was instrumental in creating USF's American Studies department and served as its chairman for 14 years. A recognized expert in American literature, African-American studies and pop culture, he taught in several foreign countries, including Ghana, Sierra Leone, Great Britain and Germany.

"He was one of the top scholars we ever had," said former English department chair Steve Rubin.

Friends say Mr. Moore's interests were numerous. He was, they say, just as likely to speak passionately about jazz and his beloved New York Yankees as he was to describe the African-American and immigrant experience in the United States.

His broad scope was evident in his publications. In addition to countless articles and works of fiction, Mr. Moore wrote books on black historian W.E.B. DuBois, baseball great Joe DiMaggio, Tampa-area photographers the Burgert Brothers and a cultural history of skinheads.

"Jack was much more than a literary scholar," said Phillip Sipiora, who now heads USF's English department. "In a sense, he was also a cultural historian."

Mr. Moore was also director of the local chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union for five years.

In addition to civil rights, Mr. Moore served on the board of directors for the Friends of the Library Hillsborough Inc.

Mr. Moore retired in 2002 and had traveled early this month with his wife in the Pocono Mountains of Pennsylvania before going to his daughter's home in New York. He appeared to be in excellent health, said Judy Moore, his wife of 46 years..

Mr. Moore suffered a heart episode that left his brain without oxygen for as long as an hour. He slipped into a coma and never regained consciousness.

Mrs. Moore and the couple's five children were at his bedside when he died about 10:15 p.m.

"He was a warm and sensitive person," Mrs. Moore said. "He was extremely fun and very loving of his family."

Other survivors include sons Sean, Brendan and Devin; daughters Tamsin and Deirdre Cipolla; and six grandchildren.

The Jack B. Moore Memorial Scholarship has been created in his honor. To donate to the scholarship fund, call USF's English department at 974-2421. A memorial service will be held on campus when fall semester classes begin.