Temecula’ eulogized in rare service held at Old Town Community Theater

Peg Moore embraces an American flag after a flag-folding ceremony provided by the U.S. Army Honor Guard in honor of her husband Jimmy Moore. Shane Gibson photo
Peg Moore embraces an American flag after a flag-folding ceremony provided by the U.S. Army Honor Guard in honor of her husband Jimmy Moore. Shane Gibson photo

A seminal figure in Temecula’s push to become the city it is today was praised and remembered at his memorial service last week.

Twenty speakers – including all five Temecula council members, a past and a current city manager and a Riverside County supervisor – took turns saluting a humble man who helped shape his community and was known to everybody simply as “Jimmy.”

Jimmy Moore, 81, was lauded by the string of speakers for his love, kindness, compassion, community pride, patriotism, poise and purpose.

Councilman Michael McCracken told of the “great influence” Jimmy Moore had on the lives of many city leaders and community volunteers.

“Jimmy Moore was a hero in this city,” McCracken said. “His impact was so positive. It just resonated.”

Moore’s send-off, which was held at the Old Town Temecula Community Theater and included full military honors, was unique in the city’s nearly 27-year history.

Much of the function revolved around Moore’s wife, Peg. It was Peg who was cast in a more visible role as the couple were transformed from a pair of Orange County transplants into key leaders of an emerging, vibrant city.

“They worked so well as a leadership unit,” Councilwoman Maryann Edwards mused during the two-hour gathering Aug. 17 that attracted about 160 people.

The couple’s roles in the community were so pivotal that City Manager Aaron Adams nearly two years ago fondly dubbed the duo “Mr. and Mrs. Temecula.”

Adams and others gathered Aug. 17 to remember the political pioneer whom they called a friend, a mentor and an unwavering ambassador of the city.

“We are what we are as a city in large part because of what Jimmy and Peg did,” Councilman Jeff Comerchero said in his remarks.

The Moores last shared the public limelight in November 2014, which was when officials began to mark the 25th anniversary of Temecula becoming a city.

An overflow crowd – standing room only throughout much of the Civic Center complex – gathered for that celebration.

The nearly two-hour program featured speeches, presentations, photographs and videos that looked back a quarter of a century and then forward into the future.

Peg Moore, one of the keynote speakers, was the lone member of the original City Council to participate. She and Jimmy, who led a 30-member committee that worked for Temecula’s incorporation decades earlier, detailed much of the community’s transition and transformation over the years.

It was then that Adams tagged the couple as being the city’s consummate political tag team.

The Aug. 17 memorial service turned into a recital as to why Adams and other leaders over the years had bestowed such honors on the couple.

Some of the speakers told how Temecula rapidly morphed from a quiet, dusty enclave at a remote corner of Riverside County into a sprawling business, residential and tourism hub.

Several speakers said it was fitting to set a historical framework, especially since Jimmy was a past president of the Temecula Valley Historical Society.

But that leadership role was just one of many played by a man who would occasionally don 1880s garb to stroll down Old Town’s wooden sidewalks as a museum docent and regale listeners with tales of Temecula’s pioneer past.

Jimmy Moore was raised in Arkansas by a no-nonsense grandfather who had emigrated from Greece. He developed a love of music as a young man and even played the drums professionally at one point. He enrolled in college soon after he graduated from high school at age 16.

He enlisted in the Army, flew helicopters and fixed-wing aircraft during the Vietnam War, and retired as a lieutenant colonel after a nearly 21-year military career. He transitioned into the computer software industry and later plunged into other business and consulting jobs.

He and Peg fell in love with Temecula after they popped into its nascent wine country on an afternoon outing.

A fledgling incorporation drive had just faltered when Jimmy was asked to lead a coalescing group of community leaders. Peg agreed to be the incorporation committee’s secretary.

Temecula’s push to become a city took several tries and a pair of costly feasibility studies. Residents overwhelmingly approved an incorporation measure at the polls, and the choice of the area’s aboriginal name gave their city a unique distinction Dec. 1, 1989.

Temecula’s population has surged from 27,099 at the city’s creation to more than 106,000 today. Its employment base has roughly quadrupled during that period.

Peg was elected to Temecula’s first council. She served one term and opted not to seek re-election. The couple moved to Maryland for a brief period, and on one snowy day decided to pack up and head back to Temecula. They resumed their leadership roles shortly after their return.

In addition to the Historical Society, Jimmy was a key figure in the Temecula Town Association, the Kiwanis Club, Temecula Valley Wine Society, Temecula Valley Symphony, California Chamber Orchestra and the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute.

Peg, who has coped with health challenges, currently serves as the chairwoman of the Old Town Temecula Review Board. The couple were married 61 years.

Besides Peg, Jimmy is survived by his siblings, daughter Marcia King, two grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.

City officials have expressed their appreciation for the couple’s contributions with more than mere accolades.

On Aug. 9, the council agreed to spend about $1,400 to staff and host Jimmy’s memorial service at the Old Town theater. The city-owned facility seats about 320 people and offers a year-round palette of events and performances.

It was the second city-sponsored and -funded memorial service to be held at the theater since it opened in October 2005. The other was held in October 2011 for Bruce Beers, who served as Temecula’s first theater manager.

Beers’ service featured singing and dancing performances. No elected officials spoke as part of that program. Jimmy’s service included an honor guard rifle salute and performances by singer Sherry Williams and pianist John Rodby.

The council has agreed to engrave Jimmy’s name into a commemorative plaque near the council chambers. Peg’s name and those of several other community leaders have been etched into the “Wall of Recognition” plaque over the years.

The council also agreed in concept to create a founders’ square within the Civic Center complex that would recognize the contributions of the Moores and others.

The cost and location of the monument or plaque have not been determined.

“It will be beautiful and tasteful and I can guarantee it will reflect the joy that Jimmy exuded,” Edwards predicted as the Aug. 9 discussion wound down on the creation of a permanent memorial.

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