Merl Moore, Art Historian and Army Colonel

Long-time City of Falls Church resident and volunteer, Merl Marshall Moore, Jr., passed away on October 25, 2011. He was 87. Cause of death was respiratory failure and other complications after heart surgery.

Moore was president of the Village Preservation and Improvement Society, and board member and volunteer of Friends of Cherry Hill. He served as trustee of Dulin United Methodist Church for many years, church historian, and steward of the Dulin Memorial Garden where was interred privately on November 5, followed by a public memorial service.

Moore lived a life devoted to family, country and art history. Born in 1924 in Racine, Wisconsin, Moore had two distinguished back-to-back careers – 34 years each – and a loving marriage to Nancy Colden Lasher that lasted 58 years.

Merl Moore and his files, 2003

Merl and Nancy met in 1952 in New York City and were married in 1953 in Nancy’s family home in New Paltz, NY. Over the next seven years, they moved six times and had five children. Elizabeth was born in Germany, Derick in France, Charles in New Jersey, Magdalene in Taiwan and Sarah in Kansas. The next year, in 1962, the family moved to Falls Church and rented a house on Midvale Street. In 1968, Moore was posted to Ft. Lewis, Wash., and the family moved with him. In 1969, Moore was posted back to Washington, DC. The house on Midvale was for sale and Moore bought it. The family moved back, never to move again.

Moore’s military career began in 1943 when he joined ROTC while attending St. Norbert College in Wisconsin. In 1948, Moore was a Distinguished Military Graduate of ROTC, became an officer in the U.S. Army Signal Corps. He served in three wars: WWII, Korea and Vietnam. Moore retired in 1977 at age 53 and was awarded the Legion of Merit.

The next day, Moore turned his attention full-time to his life-long passion for 19th Century American Art. While he had earned a BA in Art History from the University of Kentucky in 1949, and studied for a Masters from George Washington University in the 1970s, he was now free to build his files of original research about almost every artist of the period. From 1977 to 2011, Moore was a Research Collaborator & Visiting Scholar with SAAM, the Smithsonian American Art Museum.

In 2001, Moore donated his collection – 14 file cabinets totaling 64 drawers – to SAAM’s American Art / Portrait Gallery Library. In 2003, he was honored with a special event “Deep in the Heart of American Art: The Research Collection of Merl Moore… celebrating Moore’s 25 years with SAAM and the gift of his legendary files.”

Moore is survived by all 25 members of his family; his wife, five children, their spouses, 10 grandchildren, one grandson-in-law, and three great-grandchildren.

November 7, 2011 


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