Sitting inside the funeral home where he spent much of his childhood, Rob Moore says he's proud to carry on a family tradition of undertaking that has spanned 119 years in Clay County. After his father, Bob Moore, died about five years ago, Moore knew it was his time to fill those important shoes.
Moore Funeral Home, 201 N. Washington St., expanded its facilities a year and a half ago to grow from the smallest in Clay County to the largest, where Moore conducts 60 to 70 funerals each year. After his great-grandfather, William Moore Sr., his grandfather, William Moore Jr. and father Bob Moore, Rob Moore now serves as its fourth generation of ownership. The funeral director now resides next door to the business where he counsels families at one of life's lowest times while walking them through the funeral process.
The funerals he directs reflect the lives of those lost.
"We do a celebration of lives here," he said, outstretching his arms. "We guide the family -- offer options, help them to make decisions and reflect on the life of the deceased."
Their chapel can accommodate two visitations at the same time. Moore is proud of his modern embalming room and a family room for guests that features toys for children and a table for adults to sit and reflect on their love-ones life over a cup of coffee and food.
"I want people walking away feeling good about what we did today -- there's only one chance to do a funeral."
Moore is a jack of all trades, considering his jaunts at careers in law enforcement, as a paramedic and as a firefighter. He's ardent about the different professions he's explored over the years -- jobs that led him away from his hometown Brazil. He was excited to be part of some innovative breakthroughs in computer technology and nuclear imaging as part of ADAC Computer Systems, along with a team of engineers, during a 26-year-long career in executive sales and marketing, specializing in medical imaging. During that career, he met many important people and traveled over the world.
"We were the first company to attach a floppy disc on an imaging device ever," Moore said. "It opened up a whole new venture for scanners." He helped create technology used in MRI and CAT scans today. He was also a founder for Sterling Networks, a leader in computer technology, which the government bought from the entrepreneurs.
Life for Moore, 52, would take a few turns over the years before he headed home to Brazil with his wife, Vanita. They have two grown children, Theil and Micah. While he loved the different vocations he pursued over the years he spent outside of Clay County, he was ready to return to his family roots.
"God had a plan, He brought us home to be here when dad died," he said.
He was 48 when he enrolled in mortuary school. With an undergraduate degree in forensic science and pre-med studies from Indiana University, Moore was only required to complete one year at the school. He points out that going back to the classroom at that phase in his life worked to his advantage because he's up on all the latest ideas and technology for today's funerals.
"There's so much more to it, as you try to personalize it," Moore said, pointing out that it's all about memorializing lives. He offers more than the "cookie-cutter-type funerals" of 40 and 50 years ago. The staff at Moore Funeral Home assist families with personalized choices of choosing a casket, a cemetery and writing the obituary. He offers customers options of videotaping the ceremony with state-of-the-art music and video equipment, pointing out that because music is important in one's life, it's important that they personalize that part of the funeral.
Aside from offering a plain-style, small memorial folder explaining who, what, when and where, Moore Funeral Home offers a life memorial folder, which is a larger, more personalized and laminated keepsake depicting one's life span's highlights. They also offer a memorial portrait to families who might want to make a portrait of the loved-one more special by giving it an oil painted appearance using high-tech computer equipment.
"I don't remember dad's funeral, which was held at the Presbyterian Church," he said, adding that it bothers him that he didn't have a keepsake like a video tape of the event, although he's heard great stories from friends of the family that will live with him forever. "I became a better funeral director when my dad died."
The family's funeral business began in 1878 when Moore's great-grandfather opened one of Clay County's first lumber mills in Knightsville. Cutting wood for furniture, he eventually began making furniture. His furniture store was located across from where Riddell Bank is today. As a cabinetmaker, he sold coffins which was a standard for the time.
In 1885, a salesman came through town, stopping at the shop. His visit would forever change the Moore business. After Moore's great-grandfather purchased embalming equipment from the salesman, he officially became an undertaker. In March 1885, William W. Moore Sr. was involved with his first funeral.
Things have changed much since those days of horse-drawn carriages and showings in the family's home. It's not quite as simple to get into the field now, explained Moore.
"There are a lot of regulations," he said. Funeral directors must earn a two-year degree from a certified college in Mortuary Science. He graduated from Jeffersonville Mid-America College, one of only two mortuary schools in Indiana, as valedictorian of his class. (The other mortuary program in the state is located at Vincennes University.) At Mid-America College, he trained in organic chemistry, anatomy, embalming, restorative art, mortuary management, business law, funeral service law and grief counseling.
Moore stressed that it's never too early to plan a funeral.
"A lot of people come to me and say, 'what do I do?' I wish more would pre-plan," he said. "They're leaning on you."
With his staff's added personal touches, Moore strives to be the best in his field. His staff is there from the beginning of the loss until after burial.
Robin Yocom and her husband Anthony know first-hand the care Moore Funeral Home provides. When Anthony's grandfather passed away in 1994, the funeral home handled the arrangements. In 1998, Robin discovered she had lost their baby, Ryan, a month before his due date.
"It wasn't even a question between Anthony and I who would handle those arrangements," Robin said. Then, when her mother passed away in 1999 from complications related to multiple sclerosis, they would need Moore's guidance once more.
"They were extremely helpful with my mom." Robin's mother needed to be moved north for burial.
The funeral home accomodated their wishes with each loss.
With Ryan, she wanted a brief visitation so the family could have closure. She describes the atmosphere in the victorian-style home as very comforting.
"If it wouldn't have been for them, I couldn't have made it," she said.
"They're like family," he said.
Rob Moore profile --
Manager, licensed funeral director, embalmer (senior artist)
Education: 1969 graduate from Brazil High School; Indiana University; Stanford University Executive MBA; Mid America College; Academy of Funeral Service Practice, Certified Funeral Practitioner.
Indiana Funeral Directors Assiciation, Hightower Board Member
National Funeral Directors Association
Academy of Funeral service practice, CFSP
Presbyterian Church, deacon, elder
El Shaddai Emmaus Community
Crossroads of America Boy Scout Council, board member and district chairman
Breakfast Optimist Club, board member, past president
Clay County Chamber of Commerce, president
Preservation Society of Clay County
Clay County Communtity Foundation, board member
Brazil Rotary Club
B.P.O.E. Elks lodge 762
Centennial Lodge 541 F. and A.M., Master Mason
Brazil's Indiana Main Street Committee, co-chairman
Clay County Historical Society
Delta Tau Delta Fraternity
Pi Sigma Eta national Morticians fraternity
Mu Sigma Alpha Academic Honors Fraternity