Mary “Jo” (Reid) Moore has always had a knack for taking things in stride and getting things done. The word ‘can’t’ just isn’t in her vocabulary.
As the only child of alcoholic parents Jo learned to be self-sufficient from an early age. She was very candid about her childhood. “They were good people, but they were weak.”
Jo explained, “They married in 1930 and it was very hard for them during the depression, Mom’s parents didn’t approve and disowned her when she married my dad. I know they waited six years to have a child and when I was born in 1936 I was very much cherished. I know that.” But alcohol ruined both of them. From the ages of six and 12, one parent or the other was in and out of the state hospital and in those days they remedied alcoholics with shock treatments.
Fortunately, Jo’s aunt, her father’s sister, lived in Galveston, TX, and “if it hadn’t been for her, I don’t know what I would have done,” said Jo. “At 13, I took a taxi one night to go live with her and never looked back.”
Jo worked at the dime store after school and on weekends when she was 14, they thought she was 16, and graduated from high school at the age of 16, skipping two grades.
She met Dick Moore at the beach in Galveston, the summer before attending the University of Texas. They had kept in contact throughout the year. “He was my salvation, there was never a thought as to whether I was going back to school. All I knew is that he was leaving Texas and I was going with him.”
They were married at the beautiful Sacred Heart Catholic Church in Galveston on Oct. 2, 1954, after her first year of honors classes. She was 18.
Several months into the marriage, Dick was sent to Africa for three months. Jo describes her situation, “Here I was, brand new married, brand new pregnant and taking my very first plane flight to Iowa City, IA to live with my in-laws, whom I’d never met.
“They were wonderful, they accepted me like a daughter,” said Jo. “I had my first baby there because Dick wasn’t back yet.”
Their first station was Mountain Home AFB, Idaho, where they spent three different tours from 1954-1965. Two of their five children (Richard and Scott) were born in Mountain Home.
Dick’s assignments would keep them from settling any one place for very long at a time. They also lived for short periods of time in Wichita, KS, Athens, GA, and Laredo, TX, (where their third child, Sharon was born) while Dick completed pilot’s training.
She learned to be an ‘officer’s wife’ and how to entertain, which was a big part of her new role. She attended lots of formal functions bedecked in hat and gloves.
She was a Red Cross volunteer called a ‘Gray Lady’ back then.
Jo was a Girl Scout leader (for 16 years) as well as the Day Camp Director and chairperson. Dick was just as involved with Boy Scouts
She taught religion and has always been active in church.
She edited a monthly newspaper, two cookbooks, and wrote a cooking column for a local paper in Mountain Home.
“It was a good life there. We had such good friends and we loved to entertain.”
Jo said she really learned to be independent in the mid-60‘s while Dick was in Vietnam for a year.
“Dick moved us all back to Lubbuck, Texas and went to Vietnam on Veteran’s Day of ’65. We had enrolled the kids in a small Catholic school which was close by. I had told the principal if she needed any help in the library or anything, that I would be available during the next school year.
“The Monday after Thanksgiving she called and asked if I would come help the second grade teacher, because she was sick and eventually took leave in the middle of the year. I had never taught other than religion, but I told her I’d be there.
“I ended up staying for the whole year. I literally taught myself to teach, taking home manuals every night. By then, my eldest, Jude would help me grade spelling papers. So that’s how I learned that I wanted to be a teacher. I had only one year of college, I wasn’t trained, but I think I did a darned good job.”
When her husband returned, Jo decided to go back to school. Their youngest son, Edward was born during her first year back at school. She took one semester off and returned, securing two degrees (BA and Masters), graduating cum laude, while rearing five children. She was offered a paid fellowship to stay on, “So I stayed.”
Nobody had shown her how to raise children, but she knew she wanted her own children to have opportunities she never had, and each has thrived in their own way.
Jo was offered another position teaching at another small Catholic school in 1973, and was there several years before being asked to be the principal. Jo said she worked to build the school adding a junior high and pre-school program. “When I left we had 300 students, three times the enrollment as when I began.”
Dick finished his Master’s Degree in Wildlife Biology (Jo explains that one of them, first Jo, then Dick were in school from 1967 to 1980, but it worked out well for them.)
Dick was offered a job with the Corps of Engineers at Dworshak Dam Resources, to rebuild the elk habitat. He left the family in Texas in November of 1980 and came to Orofino. It was decided that Jo and the family would stay in Lubbock until the end of the school year so Edward could finish junior high.
Jo and the kids moved everything they owned to Orofino in 1981 and were once again reunited with husband and father.
“We spent 10 years in the old house while building our earth shelter home (it is still the only earth shelter in our area). There’s not even a category for it for homeowner’s insurance. I think they called it “unconventional’, kind of like me,” she grins. ”We became interested in the concept when we were building the church in Lubbock.
“Dick and I would work on the house after work every day and during the summer. We were able to move into the new home in 1991. Our son, Richard spent his vacations helping us. Our other children also came often to help.”
While all this building and settling in is taking place, Jo said that upon arriving to Orofino, she secured the only teaching position open in the district that year. She taught first, second, and third grades in Peck, along with Dorothy Wright for seven years.
“We presented musicals, taught bilingually when we had tree planters’ children come in. There were lots of new activities we had initiated. My son, Edward helped to build the playground while he earned his Eagle Scout award in 1985.
“Dorothy and I moved into Orofino School in 1988 and taught there until I retired in 1999.”
Jo thinks back and realizes she has volunteered all her adult life, we’ve mentioned a few up to this point.
“Dick and I helped to build a church in Lubbock in the 70’s, he helped with construction and I led the fundraising.
“Then I worked with Ethel Kaufman in the 80’s to build a second church, St. Theresa’s here. They started the Doughboy booth many years ago, which is still a favorite indulgence during fair days.
Back to the kitchen and catering
Jo started catering in 1995 when her son Edward needed a big meal prepared for his tenth high school reunion. “I bought a van in 2000, built the Inn and opened it in 2001,” remembers Jo. “I began a dinner club and catered special events.
“In 2003, we began the bed and breakfast. In 2004, we needed more rooms, and we built the cabins in 2007 and then built the combo laundry/game room. We already had a hot tub, horseshoe pit and a sunken garden.”
Jo worked with the CVHC Foundation, as Executive Director alongside the late Jeanette Gorman on fundraisers for the hospital (Harvest Moon Cruises). Jo remains on the board to this day.
In 2007, Jo helped reorganize the CMPL Friends. In 2009 they began their major summer fundraising, and Jo has donated the use of the Inn, all of the cooking, and publicity each year through 2016.
Dick has been there throughout until his pass ing in 2012. He slipped into unconsciousness between her hospital visits and her biggest regret was not having the chance to tell him good-bye after 58 years of marriage.
With the help of her children and her faith in God, Jo made it through a very difficult loss. She pushed forward.
“The Library Board asked me to organize and create a foundation. My friend, Kathryn Allen helped me with all the paperwork. We are now a 501(c) 3 corporation trying to raise a total of over a million dollars.”
In a few weeks, Jo has graciously offered the Inn to be the venue for CMPL’s fundraiser, ‘Oktoberfest’ to be held Oct. 1, with two seatings for a delicious German dinner, with entertainment and auction.
Their kick-off event Whiskey Shindig, took in over $20,000!
Next summer, Whiskey Shindig II is already projected for June 23, 2018.
“As of right now, we have $136,500.” delights Jo, “We are already over half-way there with CMPL Foundation’s goal of $225,000 for Phase I of the library’s expansion.
“I work with extraordinary people on the board,” notes Jo. “We are happy to have them. The Clearwater Memorial Public Library Foundation, Inc. Board consists of Jeannie Hodges, Lin Chamberlain, Tammy Gilmer (board liason), Danielle Hardy, Marcia Player (library director), Kc Morris, Dr. Ann Lima, Belinda Stockton, and then myself as chair.
“We also need to acknowledge our Clearwater Memorial Public Library Board of Trustees: Jo Sharrai and Marguerite Cook who is leaving (co-chairs), Betty Burnham, Lynn Card, and Tammy Gilmer.”
Jo has shared as an octogenarian, there are a few things she’d like to see realized in her lifetime, and upon learning a little more about her and some of the things she has accomplished, there is no doubt in my mind, that the much needed expansion to the Clearwater Memorial Public Library (CMPL) will be one of them.