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As a pianist and organist, 77-year-old Warren Moore has been the sound of Sunday service at Vine Grove United Methodist Church for 33 years.
In fact, Moore has been playing piano and organ for the last 66 years at several churches in and out of Hardin County.
“I took private piano lessons in my early years,” said Moore, who lives near Fort Knox just inside Meade County.
Moore was 10, to be exact, when he started taking lessons. A year later, he was playing piano for church. He is self-taught on the organ.
Now just shy of his 78th birthday on Dec. 4, Moore has diabetic neuropathy, which affects his legs and limits his mobility, but that hasn’t deterred him from getting to most services to play. He chooses two hymns for opening service and one for closing service. He doesn’t consider it a job.
“It’s a joy instead of work,” he said.
Moore considers what he does important.
“I think music is the basis for worship,” he said. “It gets people in the mood for worship.”
Moore, whose father was a minister, has been putting congregations in the mood for worship in churches in numerous towns in Missouri, Tennessee and Kentucky, states he lived in as he grew up.
“We moved around quite a bit,” Moore said.
For 36 years — until he retired in 1988 — he worked in several civil service jobs at Fort Knox. The last 26 years his primary responsibility was scheduling training for Armor School students.
That involved 10,000 to 20,000 students a year, he said.
“The day I retired my blood pressure dropped about 50 points,” he said.
During his civil service stint, Moore also ran Moore’s Boarding Kennel, operating the business after he got off work at Fort Knox.
An active member of the Vine Grove Masonic Lodge since 1959, he also has been secretary of the organization for 39 years.
Additionally, Moore was involved with Eastern Star and in 1971 was selected to be the Grand Organist for the state. The position with the Grand Chapter was a year-long term and included him playing music at a three-day state meeting in Louisville.
“That was quite an experience,” he said.
Through the years Moore has seen growth in area communities and ups and downs in attendance at Vine Grove United Methodist Church. All the while, his music has been the constant.
“I have played for nine preachers — nine different pastors — and nine choir directors,” he said.
Frances, his wife of 56 years, said she recalls that when the two were dating, Moore worked at Fort Knox but on weekends would drive “back home” to Crittenden County. His father had a church there and Moore played piano then drove back to Fort Knox in time for work Monday morning.
Moore, she said, was kind-hearted and patient and “just a real good human being.”
Mary Lou Emerine, a teacher at J.T. Alton Middle School, said her family and the Moore family have known each other all her life. She went to school with one of Moore’s sons.
“I’m impressed with the level of dedication it takes to be there every service to play the music used in church,” Emerine said. “He always seems to jump in and give what’s needed.”
Members of the congregation, Moore said, have expressed concern that he’ll retire soon. But Emerine isn’t buying it.
“He doesn’t seem to be a person who will ever sit back and just be retired,” she said.
Moore said there isn’t anyone designated to take his place, but he does not expect to stop playing any time soon.
“Not as long as my health holds out,” he said.
Robert Villanueva can be reached at (270) 505-1743 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
More about Warren Moore:
Place of birth: Crittenden County
Family: Wife, Frances; three grown children, Donna, Tommy and Mickey.
Favorite music: Church music, his favorite song being “He Touched Me.”
Favorite movie: “Gone With the Wind.”
Hobbies: Collecting pocket knives and collecting die-cast model cars.