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Civic leader, preservationist, ‘legend’ Carolyn Moore dies

Jonesborough civic and political leader, writer and historic preservationist, Carolyn Dabbs Moore, died on Saturday, May 22, at her home.
Moore, a founding member of the Jonesborough Civic Trust and a member of the Jonesborough Historical Association and the Heritage Alliance, was born in Florence, S.C.
She was the daughter of the late James McBride Dabbs and Jessie Clyde Armstrong. She leaves behind three daughters, Cassandra Moore and her husband, Gary Gerhart, Jonesborough; Rev. Diana Moore, Morristown; and Susan Moore Young and husband, Ray, of Hickory, N.C.
She is also survived by her granddaughter, Samona Jilton McMillan and husband, Craig; two great granddaughters, Sabryna Austin McMillan and Skylar Louise Adrianna McMillan, Simpsonville, SC.; a sister, Dorothy Dabbs, Atlanta, GA; and a brother, Richard (Dick) Dabbs, Mayesville, SC.
A 19-year-old graduate of the University of South Carolina, Mrs. Moore married Dr. Richter Hermann Moore, Jr. of Mayo, South Carolina, who predeceased her in 1996 after 45 years of marriage.
As early as her days as a college student, Mrs. Moore was active in Democratic politics and the Civil Rights movement.
Upon moving to Tennessee, Mrs. Moore continued her work in politics. She was the Vice-President of the Washington County Democrats in the early 1960s and was the State Democratic Executive Committeewoman from Tennessee. She attended both national and state Democratic Conventions and had breakfast at the White House during the Carter Administration. She was honored with the First Annual Yellow Rose award for “Outstanding Democratic Woman” from the Andrew Jackson Democratic Women in 2009.
She assisted Jimmy Neil Smith, founder and president of the International Storytelling Center, with the name development of the National Storytelling Festival.
Smith recalls Mrs. Moore’s part in naming the event.
“I originally wanted to call it the Bugaboo Springs Storytelling Festival. I thought that was the cleverest name, steeped in tradition. Then I began to realize that maybe we needed to be a little more straightforward and I thought about naming it the National Storytelling Festival, but I was too embarrassed to do so.”
“So I went to visit Mrs. Moore. I remember talking with her about and I remember her answer so vividly.”
“I said, ‘Mrs. Moore, I’ve been thinking about what to call this storytelling event. I’ve thought about calling it the Bugaboo Springs Storytelling Festival, but I’ve also thought about naming it the National Storytelling Festival. Do you think that is too presumptious?’”
“She hung her head and thought about it for a while and then asked, ‘Is there anything else like it anywhere in the country?’”
“I told her no, that I didn’t think so. She hung her head again and thought about it a little more. When she finally raised her head, her eyes were just sparkling and she said, ‘Let’s be presumptious.’”
“Mrs. Moore was a major contributor and committed leader to the restoration project of Jonesborough. That probably is her legacy. What we see in Jonesborough now – brick sidewalks, restored old buildings – began in the late 60’s with her and others in the leadership. She carried it all the way through to completion. Because of her political connections, she was able to bring Jonesborough funding and support from Nashville that may not have been available to us otherwise.”
“Jonesborough has lost a great mind and a great spirit. She was a grand lady and a legend.”
Mrs. Moore’s poetry and feature articles have been included in the pages of the Herald & Tribune and the Johnson City Press (Chronicle). She travelled extensively throughout her lifetime, visiting over 20 foreign countries and at least 40 states.
She was a member of the Schubert Club of Jonesborough and was active in Compassionate Friends. A board member of the Widows and Widowers of Northeast Tennessee, she was also an elder and long-time member of the Jonesborough Presbyterian Church.
Local residents may remember Mrs. Moore’s involvement in local theatre productions at the Johnson City Community Theatre and the Olde West Dinner Theatre. She was an avid supporter of the Jonesborough Repertory Theatre and a patron of the arts throughout the East Tennessee area.
Mrs. Moore’s memory was honored at a memorial service on Monday, May 24 at Jonesborough Presbyterian Church. Her ashes will be buried at the Salem Black River Church in Mayesville, SC, at a later date.
The family requests that memorial donations be made to the Jonesborough Presbyterian Church, the Southern Poverty Law Center or the Caroliniana Library at the University of South Carolina.
Condolences may be sent to the Moore family online at HYPERLINK “http://www.dillowtaylor.com” www.dillowtaylor.com
Dillow-Taylor Funeral Home and Cremation Services of Jonesborough served the Moore family.