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In memoriam of Emmonak leader Martin Moore Sr.’s life and legacy

black and white photo of woman smiling
Martin B Moore Sr. Photo Courtesy of Calista Corporation. Used with permission. (2020)

The city of Emmonak mourns the loss of one of its great leaders, Martin Moore Sr., who recently passed away.

During his approximately 26 years of public life, Moore held a variety of positions including State Legislator, City Manager, President of Emmonak Corporation and Alaska Native Commissioner under Gov. Jay Hammond. He overcame poor eyesight to serve his community right up to the end of his life and was instrumental in bringing many common necessities to Emmonak, as detailed by Nicholas Tucker Sr., acting city manager, city treasurer and lifelong friend of Moore. Moore was working to help everyone in Emmonak until he could not work anymore, Tucker stated.

“He brought in the schools, water, sewer, clean water and drinking water, and at the same time he brought … the high school, brought the roads in and the port for the city of Emmonak, for the region, and he was very active in the subsistence and commercial fishers locally, regionally, as well as internationally. He brought health and warmth, and he brought heat and he brought cleanliness, help with hygiene, a sub-regional clinic for the Lower Yukon river and he did that relentlessly … I don’t know how in the world he had time for everything!” Tucker said.

Moore’s daughter, Dora Christine Moore-Harrel added that Moore’s family gave him their full backing.

“Whatever our dad did in the public service, we supported him because we knew it was for the betterment not only for his children but for the future generations to come. His legacy is going to continue live on,” Moore-Harrel said.  

Both Moore-Harrel and Tucker dwelt on Moore’s personality, saying it was his drive, his organization, his humility and his compassion that allowed him to accomplish so much. Tucker talked about how these characteristics helped Moore in public life.

“In a meeting, (when) everybody’s yelling at each other, he’ll just stay there quietly, and then when it’s time for him to speak he speaks… but he speaks forcefully, confidently, to the point, with (reversing) a situation or a problem, and give solutions, and what WE can do,” Tucker said.

And, as Moore-Harrel pointed out, Moore did all this in spite of his terrible eyesight, never letting illness get in the way of his work. According to his daughter, Moore knew how to deal with pain, so that he could work past it. “If you think about your pain, it’s going to get to your head,” Moore would say.

According to those who knew him, Moore had a way of connecting to people of all walks of life. Moore-Harrel dwelt on his penchant for giving nicknames to everyone he knew.

“That was his way of showing love and affection for people,” Moore-Harrel said.

She also said her father would show people the same attention whether they were 2 or 80, stating that he would react with joy when people brought their children into his office, giving them his full regard. Tucker pointed out how Moore’s attention to everyone allowed him to help the most vulnerable in his community.

“Every person, he gave special attention to … He’d take people … alcoholics and other problems, family problems, when he gets them to work, he gives them about 55 million chances so that they can get back into society and community life. And he paid very close attention to the Elders, he was very fluent both in English and in our Yupik language, and he would take time and let them talk in Yupik, because they had nobody to speak for them or write for them and translate for them. He would take notes and take care of the situation for them, writing letters to any agency, anywhere,” Tucker said.

Moore-Harrel stated her father was not just a role model in his public life, but in his private one as well. She cited the great respect Moore had for his wife, stating that the time he asked for her hand in marriage was “one of the only two times in his life” that he was scared.

“Whenever my dad would travel, the most important phone call that my dad could get was from his wife. And that was pretty awesome for me,” Moore-Harrel said.

Both Moore-Harrel and Tucker emphasized Moore’s Catholic faith, saying he prayed a daily rosary and rooted everything in his belief in God.

“We grew up praying. He taught us to be a praying family. He taught us to learn from our lessons. He taught us to forgive one another. And he always told us about the greatest commandment to love one another,” Moore-Harrel said.

Martin Moore Sr. was a pioneer and a man who achieved much. But Tucker says Moore based his driven character in his faith.

“(He) was a man with 100% dependency on God. He told me … he cannot do anything at all without dependence on his Catholic faith and his God and on saying the rosary every day,” Tucker said.

“He lived his faith. Barely spoke it but actually lived it to give attention to the needy the hungry the helpless the ones that cannot speak for themselves, and those that needed attention, lifting up. That’s what we remember him for the most,” Tucker said.

In Moore’s honor, the flag in DC was flown at half-mast the week of Feb. 6. The flag will be presented to the family. As a veteran, Moore Senior will also receive veteran’s honors.

Image at top: Martin B Moore Sr. Photo Courtesy of Calista Corporation. Used with permission. (2020)

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