A tenacious reporter, a dedicated father and a world-class raconteur, longtime Citizen Tribune Staff Writer Robert Moore died Monday, at his home.
He was 60.
“Bob Moore was your typical old time news reporter, paid no attention to the hours that needed to be worked,” said Morristown Mayor Gary Chesney. “There was only one hour on the clock that mattered and that was deadline hour. He bird-dogged tips and leads and was able to put what he had learned to an informative factual story, not many like him anymore. I’ll miss Bob Moore.”
A native of Alabama, Moore came to Morristown in high school after his father was named president of Hamilton Bank. Moore graduated from Morristown-Hamblen High School West and later attended the University of Tennessee where he studied journalism and worked for The Daily Beacon.
Criminal Court Judge John Dugger met Moore in high school when he saw the new kid in school walking alone after school. The future judge gave the future reporter a ride and they were friends ever since.
“That was either 1975 or 1976,” Dugger said, adding that the friendship built during their time together at UT.
“Bob was very intelligent, probably the most inquisitive person I’ve ever known,” Dugger said. “He had a wonderful mind. He wanted to know and would dig and he would find it. That’s what made him a good reporter.”
Morristown City Councilmember Chris Bivens said a lot of people didn’t realize just how intelligent Moore was.
“He knew a lot about a lot of things,” Bivens said. “It’s almost unbelievable, the font of knowledge …. It doesn’t make a difference what the topic was, he knew about it.”
While at UT, Moore took a year off and lived in Europe, travelling extensively. He worked odd jobs to earn money as he made his way across the continent.
“While we were friends at UT, Bob decided he was going to take a year off,” Dugger said. “He flies to Europe with no money and he wandered around Europe for a year, lived in youth hostels and he got by. He liked adventure.”
He followed that adventurous calling all his life.
“Bob was a seeker,” said Tribune Managing Editor John Gullion. “My favorite stories of him are from his time in Europe and later from his trips on the road with his son, Aaron. From trips through the American West and down through Mexico to Guatemala, Bob loved getting out on the road and exploring the world. He was never happier than when he was planning those trips.”
Moore joined the Tribune in 1992 and in his 28-year career reported on a wide-range of topics, winning multiple Tennessee Press Association awards.
While Moore reported on a wide variety of topics it was the police beat and city government that was at the core of his focus over the decades. Moore covered major regional stories like the infamous Lillelid Trial and, more recently, the state execution of Nicholas Sutton.
Bivens had known Moore when they were younger, but they’d drifted apart over the years. When Bivens got involved in local politics, Moore was there on the beat.
“I just thought the world of him,” Bivens said. “He never, ever went against what he told me he would do. I always thought when he did a story, he tried to do what he thought was the right thing for everybody involved.”
Beyond intelligence, Moore also had exceptional recall, Gullion said.
“Bob had a nearly encyclopedic memory,” Gullion said. “He was a font of knowledge about local government, history and the background stories and legends that built up around those histories. In addition to losing a talented, dogged reporter, this community and paper has lost a true resource with decades of institutional knowledge.”
R. Jack Fishman, president of Lakeway Publishers Inc., has known Moore since he arrived in Morristown as a teen.
“There was no one more dedicated to telling the news of this community than Bob Moore and no one who worked harder to get that job done. He was highly intelligent and highly knowledgeable,” Fishman said. “I’ve known Bob for more than 40 years and he worked here at the Tribune for 28 of those years. The mark he has made on this newspaper and this community will last for years and years to come. This is a tremendous loss for the newspaper, a tremendous loss for the community and a tremendous loss to all who knew and loved him.”
While Moore’s focus was often on crime and civics, he loved nothing more than to devote time to a feature that he thought could help someone.
“He had a real passion for journalism,” Tribune editor/publisher R. Michael Fishman said. “He certainly had his unique style and methods that he developed over the years, but he always sought to get to the bottom of any story he was working on. He was great at what he did. I don’t know anybody who worked as hard as he did and loved doing that work as much as he did. Covering local news gave Bob joy and excitement and that was fun to watch.
“As a result, I think there was always a mutual respect for the responsibilities that he had to carry out in working with various sources throughout the community. He was a big part of our team and worked tirelessly in pursuit of his mission of keeping his community informed. This is a vital role and as a result I believe the community will also feel the loss.”
Hamblen County Attorney Chris Capps, who’d known Moore since high school, says his talents, abilities and passion will be hard to replace.
“Bobby would often call me to discuss legal issues or local events to get my thoughts or opinions. I always enjoyed our discussions because he had perspective that most folks had missed or didn’t consider,” Capps said. “He was always professional even though we were friends from childhood. He was devoted to his craft and to make a story come alive on the page … he will be sorely missed.”
Hamblen County Mayor Bill Brittain said Moore worked hard to get the facts of the story.
“He wasn’t afraid to ask the hard questions and he analyzed data well,” Brittain said. “Bob’s family will miss him as will those of us who read his work to learn how local events were impacting our lives.”
Moore’s passion for knowledge extended well past the Lakeway Area. He was a voracious reader of current topics, classic fiction and thought. He was incredibly intelligent and had a vast thirst to know all he could know about a wide variety of subjects.
“Bob was probably the most well-read person I’ve known,” Gullion said. “That passion for knowledge and understanding could lead to some stubbornness. He loved to argue and debate, everything from politics to college football, especially anything to do with the Alabama Crimson Tide. But he was always well informed and always in the pursuit of more information.”
Dugger noted that passion for competition ran deep. At West, Moore had been a serious tennis player.
“He was a competitor, too,” Dugger said. “He was a serious competitor on the tennis court. He’d be out there in the sun, burned bright red, from playing tennis.”
Moore is survived by his son, Aaron, and two sisters. Funeral arrangements were not available by press time.