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John D. ‘Jack’ Moore, retired mechanical engineer and sailing enthusiast, dies

John D. "Jack" Moore raced his sailboat in regattas on the Chesapeake Bay.
John D. "Jack" Moore raced his sailboat in regattas on the Chesapeake Bay.

John D. “Jack” Moore, a retired mechanical engineer and sailing enthusiast, died of complications from a fall May 29. He lived at the Pickersgill Retirement Community in Towson. He was 94 and had resided in Ruxton.

Born in Turtle Creek, Pennsylvania, a town near Pittsburgh, he was the son of John Moore, a ship’s mechanic, and his wife, Elizabeth Leven, a seamstress. They immigrated from Glasgow, Scotland, in the early 1920s.

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The family moved to Dundalk, and Mr. Moore was a 1943 graduate of Sparrows Point High School. He initially worked in the drafting department of the shipbuilding division of the Bethlehem Steel Co., Maryland Shipbuilding and Drydock.

“The other men in the drafting room recognized his ability and persuaded him to go to college, which was then a radical notion in that place and time and community,” said his son, J. Duncan Moore Jr. of Chicago. “Against his parents’ wishes, and without their financial help, he enrolled in the University of Maryland engineering school.”

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While at College Park, he taught himself to play the bass fiddle and learned jazz harmony and rhythm. He paid his way through college by putting together jazz bands and arranging gigs at dance parties in Washington and Baltimore, his son said.

One summer he went to sea as a crewman on an ore carrier to Santiago, Chile. “He liked to tell us about traversing the Panama Canal,” his son said.

After earning his mechanical engineering degree, he joined S. Yeardley Smith Consulting Engineers on Maryland Avenue and worked there from 1953 to 1972.

Mr. Moore designed heating, ventilating and air conditioning systems in buildings throughout Maryland, Virginia and the District of Columbia.

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He worked on the air conditioning system for the Agriculture Department headquarters on the National Mall in Washington as well as schools in Howard and St. Mary’s counties.

He did design for a London Fog warehouse in Westminster, the Naval Weapons Laboratory, a Loyola College academic center and Baltimore County public libraries.

“Yeardley Smith’s firm had a niche specialty in climatic chambers for animal research,” his son said. “The chambers had to be taken to extremes of heat, cold, and humidity to measure how weather conditions would affect livestock. My dad worked on projects in India, Scotland, and Iowa State University.”

After receiving his engineering registration in 1967, he opened his own firm, Moore/Lewis Consulting Engineers, in 1972 on North Charles Street. He retired in 1992.

In December 1953 he married Jean Somervell, a schoolteacher from Prince Frederick. They met on a blind date in 1952. “He was my escort to a housewarming party,” she said. “And we clicked. We never separated after that.”

His son said: “He told me in early May, ‘Marrying your mother was the best thing I ever did. I couldn’t have done any of it without her help and support.’ ”

Together they bought and renovated old houses, including the gardener’s cottage on the grounds of the old Marston School on Springway Road in Ruxton.

Mr. Moore taught himself as a young man to sail and later bought a sailboat and raced in regattas on the Chesapeake Bay. He was a member of the Potapskut Sailing Association on the Magothy River.

“He loved to be out on the bay and tinkering with boats,” said his son.

In retirement he and his wife cruised the bay with other members of their sailing association. He also played golf and tennis at times.

He was a congregant of the Episcopal Church of the Good Shepherd since 1962. He helped design and organize its columbarium.

He was a lifelong member of the St. Andrew’s Society of Baltimore, the Scottish immigrants’ association.

He moved to the Pickersgill Retirement Community in 2013 and became president of its residents’ association. He set up a college fund and solicited donations for Pickersgill’s employees.

Mr. Moore delivered Meals on Wheels until he was past 90.

A private memorial service was held June 1 at the Church of the Good Shepherd.

In addition to his son and his wife of 67 years, a former Calvert School correspondence teacher who later was a pediatrician’s office manager, survivors include two other sons, W. David Moore of Miami Beach and A. Dorsey Moore of San Jose, California; a daughter, Elizabeth Somervell Holcomb of Austin, Texas; and five grandchildren.

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