Gary Moore rarely recognized the negative of life. Through his focused eyes, there was always something positive to be discovered within any situation.
The lens through which the Bourbonnais man saw the world also reflected back upon himself and the desperate situation in which he lived.
Diagnosed in February 2020 with a rare form of stomach cancer, Moore reacted as anyone who knew him would expect.
Despite the grim diagnosis doctors provided him, he faced the illness head-on and never lost hope.
He refused to isolate himself in his home and wait for the inevitable. He refused to become a victim. He refused to stop living.
He let all of his weekly Daily Journal column readers into the world he was experiencing. He shared his situation through countless conversations with family, friends and basically anyone who would listen.
He would not be defeated. His spirit would not be broken. Death would come as it did this week for Moore, but it did not defeat him. Moore would not allow that to happen.
Moore, a famed bestselling and award-winning author, a Daily Journal columnist, an inspirational speaker as well as a noted businessman, died Wednesday due to complications of Stage 4 stomach cancer. Moore was 66.
Outside of family, Gary W. Moore was my dearest friend. I miss him already. A genuinely good man.
He is survived by his wife, Arlene; two sons, Toby and Travis, and daughter, Tara Beth Leach; son-in-law, Jeff Leach; and two grandsons, Caleb Daniel Leach and Noah Moore Leach.
“He had this drive within him to inspire other people. He would have made a great pastor,” said daughter, Tara, who is a pastor. “Without question, I am my father’s daughter.”
Simply put, Tara said, her father rarely missed an opportunity to inspire others with words.
“He was a cheerleader with words. He wanted to help people believe they could become whatever they wanted to become,” she said. “He believed in the power of words.”
For the past six years, Moore authored the Daily Journal column “Positively Speaking.”
The column came about without much discussion, Tara noted.
“He just woke up one day and decided to be a columnist.”
That pronouncement was basically how Moore lived his life. He would get an idea and he would run with it until the task was accomplished.
For a man who saw the glass as half full rather than half empty, Moore’s cancer battle-tested him in every way he could be tested.
There were days he would be down emotionally, but he always found the inspiration needed to pick himself back up. But, for a man who helped so many others deal with loss, he had to learn it as well.
“I had to teach him how to grieve,” his daughter said. He came to terms with the feeling that it is OK to not be OK.
An inspirational speaker who took his message across the globe, Tara said despite such fanfare to her father, what brought him the most joy was simply being with his family and his friends in the Kankakee area.
A world-class storyteller, Moore had three books published and a fourth book was only recently completed. A fifth book will be completed with the help of friends.
It was in the fall of 2018 when Moore began feeling ill. Unfortunately, it took another 18 months or so for the cancer diagnosis to be pronounced. Despite visits to a wide spectrum of medical experts, little could be done.
His health eroded and his body receded.
During the past five weeks or so, when he had been placed in hospice care, there was a nearly constant stream of well-wishers visiting the Moore home, his children said.
People came to share stories and give encouragement, Tara noted, but by the time the visit had concluded it was Moore who had delivered a motivational message to the well-wisher.
“There were literally hundreds of people who came through the house and that’s what he wanted. He didn’t want to be hidden away. He wanted to party. It was wild. I’ve never seen anything like it.”
If you are an avid reader of Gary Moore's "Positively Speaking" column that runs weekly in the Daily Journal, you knew this day was coming. And now that it's here, we seem to be at a loss for words — which speaks volumes because words are what we do.
Born and raised on Kankakee’s east side, Moore was a 1972 graduate of Kankakee Eastridge High School. He later graduated from VanderCook College and Music. He traveled and performed with artists such as Ray Price and Barbara Mandrell.
In 1995, he was named the Bradley-Bourbonnais Chamber of Commerce’s “Businessperson of the Year.” He had started the Bradley-based company Moore Industries. He later became the exclusive Filter Queen (home sanitation system) distributorship in Illinois, Indiana, Iowa and Missouri.
In 1991, he added his biggest advancement to the company by adding a Medical Technologies Division to the corporation, its main feature being a needleless injection system sold by insulin-dependent diabetics.
Moore professional career fell on hard times in the early 2000s. He found himself on the outside of the business world looking in. But that didn’t stop him. He soon found other pursuits, this one with published words.
His eldest son, Toby, shared he often remembers his father’s encouragement stating there was nothing in this world he couldn’t do.
“He believed that about himself and in others. He just believed he could do things,” Toby said. “He had struggles and had loss, but these come to all of us at some point. It’s all about how you respond.”
The elder Moore had his struggles for sure, but he didn’t let them overwhelm him, his son said.
“He got angry, but he let it go. Then he became a successful writer,” Toby shared. “He would say you can become bitter and angry or see the bright side and move on.”
Toby said he carried that philosophy with him through the cancer diagnosis, through treatments, through therapies and ultimately to his final breath.
“He made his peace with God. He refused to concede to the cancer,” he said.
And Toby noted in a strange way that his father’s days of hospice care could also be looked at as a gift.
Moore’s father and Toby’s grandfather had died suddenly due to a heart attack. The death didn’t allow people to say goodbye.
“With dad, we all got to say our final words,” he said. “He always had a good attitude and he didn’t want us to sit around and cry.”
Somehow Gary Moore would have expressed joy with the way he ultimately passed. His children are “positive” about that.