Saturday, August 27, 2016

Ardath and Kenneth Moore -- the remarkable couple behind a WWII telegram

Sometimes I find an item from WWII that could become a valued family memento, but there is no family left. Such was the case with a telegram I found today on eBay. It led me to the story of a remarkable couple from the Greatest Generation.

The telegram is dated May 15, 1944; sent from Camp Shelby, Mississippi; addressed to P.H. Diles in  Groveport, Ohio; and signed “Ardath” (no last name). The message read:

Arrived safely – have room close to camp bus line – possibility of working and living on post – tired but happy – letters soon – don’t worry – love – Ardath.”

It took a little sleuthing, but I figured out who “Ardath” was. Here is the rest of the story.

Ardath was Ardath Adale Adams Moore. She was 20 at the time she sent the telegram. Her husband was a soldier, Kenneth F. Moore, 22. They had been married a little less than two years at the time of the telegram. Her obituary says she earned a B.S. degree in animal husbandry, but that wasn't the end of her education, as we shall see. 

Ardath and Kenneth Moore

The telegram was addressed to a man named Pearl Diles in Ardath’s hometown of Groveport, Ohio. Pearl and his wife, Lucy, were in their late sixties. Lucy was Ardath's grandmother, and Pearl was her step-grandfather. The young wife was letting the folks back home know she had arrived safely to be with her husband.

Ardath and Kenneth were married August 16, 1942, and he entered the Army 13 days later. I suspect he had received his draft notice and they got married before he reported to the Army. At the time of his enlistment he had one year of college. After the war he earned a doctorate in agronomy from Ohio State and taught at Ohio State and Clemson University. He fought in Europe during the war, and his obituary said he was awarded a Bronze Star medal. Ardath's telegram was sent three weeks before D-Day.It's likely Kenneth shipped out for Europe not too long afterward.

But that’s just the beginning of their story. Ardath died August 5, 2014, and Kenneth on September 28, 2015, in Ormond Beach, Florida. His obituary in a Daytona Beach newspaper recounts their remarkable career together after he retired from teaching:

He returned to Springfield, Ohio where he became CEO for an agricultural trade school at Clark County Technical Institute. While he was there, he met a pastor, Mr. Edgar Aleshire. Mr. Aleshire hired them to tend his afflicted daughter, Bobbie. After some time the winters got too hard on them so they moved to Daytona Beach in 1971. After Mr. Aleshire and Bobbi passed away, Kenneth and Ardath went back to school and each earned A.S. degrees in nursing and as registered nurses they worked with several doctors in this area. Kenneth and Ardath provided a Christian Clinic for more than 10 years, helping indigent people with medical needs. Ken's caring for others began early in his life as he and Ardath took in many needy students when they were in college.

Kenneth and Ardath were married on Aug. 16, 1942 and at her passing in August, 2014 they were eleven days shy of their 72nd anniversary. Kenny and Ardath served Daytona Beach First Baptist Church in the Baptist Ministry for more than 20 years. He is now a charter member and Deacon Emeritus of Providence Church in Ormond Beach.

Ardath and Kenneth were honored in 2005 with a Points of Light Award, given by Florida Gov. Jeb Bush in honor of their work with the free clinic. In addition to running their free clinic, they reared seven foster children. They also survived a terrible ordeal in 2001. They were attacked and robbed while visiting Tampa, and both were severely beaten. According to a newspaper report: “Kenneth Moore, 79, suffered a dislodged eardrum, some hearing loss, seven fractures on his face, jaw, and collar bone, and damaged teeth. Mrs. Moore, 77, had damaged teeth and a severely bruised face that required surgery.”

They forgave their attackers. After they recovered from their injuries, the Tampa Bay Convention and Visitors Bureau coordinated a free return visit to Tampa, including Busch Gardens and other attractions.

Although they reared seven foster children, Ardath and Kenneth had no children of their own. Their only survivors were his sister and a niece. Her obituary is here and his is here.

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