Olympic Gold Medalist Charles Moore ’47 Dies
Charles H. Moore Jr. ’47, an Olympic gold and silver medalist in track & field, a noted executive, philanthropist, and sportsman, the former director of athletics at Cornell University, and an emeritus member of Mercersburg Academy’s Board of Regents, died October 8 at his home in Laporte, PA. He was 91.
Moore won the gold medal for the United States in the 400-meter hurdles (in a then-Olympic record time of 50.8 seconds) at the 1952 Summer Olympics in Helsinki, Finland. He also earned a silver medal in those same Olympics by running a leg of the U.S. mile relay team. Moore was a member of the USA Track & Field Hall of Fame, and the U.S. Olympic Committee named him one of its 100 Golden Athletes in 1996.
Born August 12, 1929, in Coatesville, PA, Moore was the son of Jane Scott Moore and Olympic hurdler Charles H. “Crip” Moore Sr. (1922), who also attended Mercersburg. The Moores are the lone father-and-son tandem among the Academy’s 54 Olympians; the elder Moore was a member of the 1924 U.S. Olympic Team in Paris. Despite this strong track & field pedigree, the younger Moore did not take up the sport until he arrived at Mercersburg as an 11th-grade student in 1945.
Legendary Mercersburg track & field coach Jimmy Curran suggested Moore try the hurdles; in those days, athletes typically took 15 steps between hurdles in the 400-meter event. “I was six feet tall, but I had fairly long legs and a long stride,” Moore recalled in a 2008 Mercersburg magazine story. “I said, ‘Wait a minute—I can do better, I’ll take 13 steps between hurdles.’ And that was revolutionary.”
In addition to his Olympic exploits, Moore’s Mercersburg relay team won the national prep-school championships at Madison Square Garden in his first year, and he went on to capture NCAA individual titles in the 220-yard hurdles and 440-yard dash while attending Cornell. He retired from competition following the 1952 Olympics having never lost a 400m hurdles race.
As a business executive, Moore worked with his family’s steel-forging business, Lenape Forge, until it was sold to Gulf + Western Industries (later Paramount Communications and now ViacomCBS). He moved on to leadership roles with a number of multinational companies, as well as a five-year stint as director of athletics at his college alma mater (1994 to 1999). Moore served on Mercersburg’s Board of Regents from 1996 to 2005 and was national chair of the school’s Mightily Onward capital campaign. He chaired the U.S. Olympic Committee’s Audit Committee and was executive director of the Committee Encouraging Corporate Philanthropy.
Moore was the 2002 recipient of Mercersburg’s Class of ’32 Award, which is the highest honor the school bestows upon one of its graduates. His Olympic medals are on display in the school’s Goldthorpe Athletic Complex.
“I couldn’t figure out how you divide two medals among nine children,” Moore said in an interview with the United States Olympic & Paralympic Committee’s website. “Mercersburg gave me my start and they’ll be there for everybody to see, including my children.”
Moore is survived by his wife of 49 years, Judith, as well as eight children—including daughter Susan ’77 and sons David ’74 and Brian ’94. Other alumni survivors include a niece, Nancy Moore Banta ’77; a nephew, Steve Moore ’79; two great-nephews, Lee Banta ’06 (who is married to Maddie Deupree Banta ’06) and Cam Banta ’09; and a great-niece, Jane Banta ’11. Moore’s father, “Crip” Moore, died in 1983; his son, Charles III ’67, died in 2017; and his brother, Tom ’57, died in May 2020.
Due to the current pandemic, services will be private. Homer Funeral Home in Dushore, PA, is handling arrangements. Memorials may be sent to the Charles H. Moore Scholarship Fund at Mercersburg Academy, 100 Academy Drive, Mercersburg, PA 17236, or can be made online at mercersburg.edu/give.