They’ve devoted a lifetime to the care of others and each other. John Sketchley Moore and Edith Turner Moore, pharmacist and nurse, respectively, have more than related professions to explain their almost 61 years’ close-knit relationship.
One cannot miss the unspoken communication between the two — a good-hearted smirk from John, a quick glance and softening of facial features into a sweet smile from Edith — no doubt about it, there’s something special here.
John is a Las Vegas native, born in 1924, to Sketchley and Ruth Winters Moore. The elder Moore’s family came from England, and Ruth’s father, “Grandfather Winters,” had a drugstore in West Las Vegas, a fact substantiated by a curious John S. Moore, who investigated and eventually found a plaque bearing the Winters’ name in the vicinity of Plaza Drugs. Edith, born in 1923, grew up in east Texas, but destiny brought these two together after World War II.
John relates the interesting tale of his decision to join the military. He and some friends were out having a good time, ice skating at the Montezuma Pond. News of the bombing of Pearl Harbor came to light; they knew this event would change their lives, and since portable radios and cell phones didn’t exist then, they wasted no time getting home to find out what had happened.
John took action, joined the Air Force and did a three-year tour of duty, was stationed at various bases throughout the continental United States — spanning from the East Coast— North and South Carolina, Florida, the South— Mississippi, Georgia, Tennessee, and the West — in California and Nebraska. He was trained and served in aircraft maintenance and engineering, quite a far cry from his eventual profession as a pharmacist.
Before his military service, in the early 1940s, John had begun studies in pharmacology at the University of Colorado Pharmacy School in Boulder, spurred by the fact that his father had worked at Murphey’s all his life.
John adds that pharmacy training at one time was not totally predicated on formal education and that one could be “grandfathered in” through apprenticeship and by passing the state boards in pharmacy.
“Times have changed,” John said.
At that time, though, New Mexico had no actual pharmacy schools available, so he decided to study at Boulder. World War II interrupted his studies, but he resumed them and completed his bachelor of science degree in 1948.
Meanwhile, Edith had been pursuing her vocation in nursing at the University of Houston, earning her associate of arts and working as a registered nurse, developing her skills at Houston Memorial Hospital. After a few years, though, she opted for graduate study, and that is what led to her meeting John at the University of Colorado in Boulder.
John and Edith’s love story reads like a page from a romance novel.
Edith whimsically recalls, “One night at a dance, this beautiful man came up to me and asked, ‘May I have this dance?’”
That was the beginning of a relationship that the two joke about.
“John would never have graduated from CU without my help coaching him in spelling.”
They both chuckle at her comment. Nevertheless, their relationship continued during his remaining time at CU and her return to Houston, with their writing letters back and forth. One might say that the letter writing and spelling coaching must have been quite effective, as subsequent to John’s completion of his coursework in 1948, the two married on Sept. 19, 1949.
Daughter Sarah Zeligh Moore was born in 1951. Edith describes her as “an individual,” and says she has always stayed close to home, got a good education, and helps her and John a lot.
“She drives us to Albuquerque for medical checkups and recalibration of John’s pacemaker. He’s on his second pacemaker.”
But let’s back up to some of the intervening years. Back in Las Vegas in 1952, John began working at Murphey’s, where his father, Sketchley Moore, had worked.
John, too, had worked there, “as a kid, chopping and salting ice for the fountain.” He pauses, explaining that this process was used in the years predating refrigeration.
As for his work at Murphey’s, the company that anchored Las Vegas’ business district for decades, John said the store, with its well-stocked interior and its popular soda fountain, was much more than a pharmacy. He said customers could go there for a box of candy for a special occasion, or for a camera or even photo darkroom equipment and chemicals.
Edith said both Moores are grateful for the kind of support the public provided Murphey’s through the years.
Edith brought her skills to Las Vegas, working at various places, substituting for nurse Edith Rackley at Highlands University’s health center, night duty at Las Vegas Hospital and as school nurse at the public schools during the school year. In the early 1970s, Edith Moore became the full-time student health center nurse until her retirement in 1986.
John and Edith lived on Myrtle Avenue for almost five decades, but John moved into his childhood family home to assist his father, until the elder Moore passed away in 1993.
“Papa was someone who never gave up, was up at seven in the morning to go to the bank,” John recalls.
With no need for two houses, the Moores moved their belongings from the smaller home on Myrtle into the larger Seventh Street home, where they reside today.
Edith and John used to walk regularly for exercise, but that practice has subsided. John admits to having been a handyman, to fixing things, and points to a well-wrought pendulum clock on the wall that he made, one among his many woodworking projects.
The couple also referred to having enjoyed time with their pet dog, Jim. Edith teaches Sunday school class at Calvary Baptist church. John attends the Episcopalian church. His grandfather Moore was one of the early Episcopalian ministers in Las Vegas — in a church across from where Mortimer Hall stood.
“It’s hard to see Mortimer Hall just wiped away,” John says.
Edith admits that as a couple, they’ve “had ups and downs,” but, she adds, “John is sweet … lets me be who I am. It’s nice to have someone who loves you and lets you know it. God’s been good to us.”
She calls him “Papi,” but when she wants his attention, she calls him John. Turning to him, she says, “Isn’t that right, Papi?”
He returns with, “About right.” Just by their tone, it’s obvious that they understand one another.
“I wish everybody loved the Lord, trusted, obeyed and did His will; we’d have such a Las Vegas to live in,” Edith says.
John says, “I just truly love the Las Vegas area. I guess we could’ve lived elsewhere. Las Vegas is home.”