Marion F. 'Dick' Moore, whose Upperco farm machinery business served customers for nearly 50 years, dies

Marion Floyd “Dick” Moore, former owner of White House Farm Supply, a business that served farmers throughout the region for nearly half a century, died Sunday at York Hospital in York, Pa., from a massive hemorrhage — one day short of his 102nd birthday.

Mr. Moore was born in Lodi, Va., the son of farm parents Milton Floyd Moore and Cora May Rambo Moore. In 1917, when he was less than a year old, his parents purchased a 724-acre ranch in Big Timber, Mont.

“After living and farming there for several years and enduring extremely cold winters and harsh conditions — let alone neighbors that only spoke Norwegian — Cora decided she wanted to move back East,” wrote his son, Bradley G. “Brad” Moore of Jacksonville, Baltimore County, in a biographical profile of his father.

The family briefly moved to Virginia in 1922, then purchased a 200-acre dairy farm near Freeland. Mr. Moore, who was known as Dick, was a 1933 graduate of Sparks High School, where he excelled in athletics.

Three years after graduating, he married the former Lucy Rhodes, and they continued living on the family farm.

In 1937, his father offered to give the farm to Mr. Moore and his brother, Horace, if they agreed to assume its debt. When his brother balked at this notion the farm was sold, and his parents moved to another farm in Havre de Grace.

Mr. Moore took a job at the old Towson Nurseries, and drove a truck that delivered workers to job sites.

After backing over a plant, he was fired.

He worked other jobs, including operating veneer-drying machine at Stenerson Veneer in Cockeysville, and in the parts department at the old Glenn L. Martin Co. in Middle River.

In 1944 he received his draft notice. He desired to join the Navy, but was told there was a quota to fill and was sent to the Army.

“Dad was sent to Fort Knox, Ky., for basic training where he was placed in a tank division as a gunner,” his son wrote in the biographical profile. “He said he would fire at junk cars for practice, but could not hit the broad side of a barn. He thinks that is where he lost some of his hearing.”

Mr. Moore was then trained as a marksman with the M1, a .30-caliber semi-automatic rifle, and sent to Germany for the remainder of the war.

Discharged in 1946, he applied for a job at a new International Harvester dealer in Cockeysville. Its owner, Chester Troy, hired him as his first employee in sales because of his farm background.

“Their first customer called and ordered a corn planter. It came in pieces, so dad and Mr. Troy put it together using an instruction manual,” his son wrote. “Dad later said he was surprised it even worked.”

One day Mr. Moore was driving up Falls Road when he stopped at a John Deere dealership in Upperco, and was surprised to find that a high school classmate, Web Parrish, worked there. Mr. Moore crossed the street, talked to the owners of the dealership and struck a deal to buy it. There was one catch: He wanted Mr. Parrish to stay on as chief mechanic.

“Many other dealers tried to hire Web away from dad, but he was loyal and stayed on,” his son said.

Another friend, Doug Parks, advanced Mr. Moore money and became a silent partner in the business, which became known as White House Farm Supply.

Mr. Moore was divorced in 1969, and later that year married the former Doris Cole, an executive secretary at McCormick & Co. She died in 2010.

In later years a daughter, Deborah Floyd Weber, of Hydes, joined her father in the business, handling the books and ordering parts.

“He grew the business into the most successful farm dealership in northern Baltimore County,” Mr. Moore’s son said.

Wallace E. “Wally” Boston of Hampstead was an area service manager for John Deere, and said he got to know Mr. Moore in the 1960s.

“I called on Dick for 20 years,” said Mr. Boston, who retired in 1987. “He was very honest, very friendly and outgoing, and he took care of his customers.

“Dick sold combines, snowmobiles and bicycles, anything that John Deere made,” he added. “After I retired, I still kept in touch with him. He was really a nice guy.”

When he reached age 87, Mr. Moore decided to retire. He sold the business in 2004, but not before presiding over a two-day sale.

“Farmers and collectors came from miles around to bid on parts, toys, mowers and antique tractors,” his son said.

Mr. Moore had lived in Cockeysville and later Hereford, and for the past three years resided at Bonnie Blink, the Maryland Masonic Home in Hunt Valley. He was a member and past president of the Cockeysville Lions Club and a 45-year member of Mount Carmel United Methodist Church, where he had served on its board.

He enjoyed travel and reading, especially the newspaper Lancaster Farming, his son said. He also maintained relationships with former customers and still enjoyed talking about farming.

Mr. Moore did not follow any particular health regimen that earned him centenarian status, although “he did like drinking Old Fashioneds made with Southern Comfort,” his son said.

A memorial service for Mr. Moore will be held at 11 a.m. Nov. 3 at his church, 2535 Mount Carmel Road, Parkton.

In addition to his son and daughter, he is survived by another daughter, Sandra Lee Bissell of Towson; seven grandchildren; 17 great-grandchildren; and a great-great grandson.

fred.rasmussen@baltsun.com

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