Sumner K. Moore Eulogy
By Sumner’s son, Peter
Kittelle Moore’s was a life of duty, dedication, fortitude and faith. He was born at the U.S. Naval Academy in
There is something to be said for the old saw about not having more than a two-year gap between your first two children, especially if they’re boys. For Charles Kittelle, called Tim (now, how many nicknames are there for Charles. Tim is not among them?), apparently did not take that kindly to his younger brother. Yet Sumner was incredibly kind to his brother Johnes Kittelle, called Jay, who was five years his junior. My Dad would put on endless shows for Jay, where the evil Mountainmen led by the wise & wily ancient bear, Teddie, always defeated the hapless residents of Beebeetown, led by Raggedy Ann cousins Percy & Uncle Clem. My grandmother’s dearest friends from growing up in DC adored Sumner, who unlike his brothers, never had a nickname. They picked up the name the housekeeper gave him; unable to get the name Sumner, she called him Sambo.
Growing up in seaside posts such as Coronado, Newport & Long Beach, the Moore boys were all bright, creative and artistically talented. From life before TV & X-Boxes we still have the wonderful woodcarvings of a ball & chain, figures of boxing kangaroos, blackjack wielding robbers, a young boy eating watermelon, & of course the Navy goat – worthy folk art from the hands of a boy.
1944, driven by his long sense of duty, my father chose a presidential
appointment to the
an ingrained love of the sea, the Navy was a good choice for my father. His career may have progressed further had he not taken as many
teaching stints & had the Bureau of Naval Personnel known where to find him
in 1961, when he was at the
Sumner spent his first year after graduation teaching at the Academy. It was then he met and fell in love with his crab, as Middies called Annapolitans. In the spring of 1949 as a groomsman, he met a beautiful bridesmaid named Jane Robinson Pancoast. They were the only two amongst the wedding party at loose ends & as usual, it took my Dad a while to figure out that the fix was in. They were married at the end of May. Theirs was a dedicated love.
Within two years they started
a family with Ann followed 18 months later by Kitt and in another two years
Jeep. The good Navy wife moved with Dad
In the early years, Jeep remembers a kind father who would serenade them to sleep with his Honor chromatic harmonica, a man who built a really cool wooden toy chest with drawers for each child & constructed a play house from which they could jump off the seemingly expansive roof. Ann recalls the father who’d return from deployments with Steiff stuffed animals.
was creative and meaningful in his family duties – for Jeeps’ birthday Dad
carved a big freighter named the Jeep Moore, with the homeport of
also had a very creative eye with his Browning movie camera, creating such
classics as the 2-mile Race – a shot
of childrens’ feet running in a circle around the words “2-mile race” carved in
the sand or the famous fried chicken movie ─ “Is it good Jeep?” He also loved the beach, from Dam Neck, to
Mayport, to West Hampton to
a point, the older three were turned loose to their own devices: biking all around Paris and the Bois de
Bologne, or building sand forts in
In some ways our lives were offbeat. We had weird cars...an English Anglia named Bridget, a Ford Country Squire named Mr. Green Jeans, Henri the 1960 Citröen 419 station wagon with the awesome lines & hydraulic suspension that moved the car up & down when it started. A Simca named Albert. Fiats named Sergio & Guisseppi. No other family had such weird cars ─ with names no less.
When we moved to DC in 1965, it was the beginning of a tumultuous time. During the riots we could see the city burn from our house. Though the older kids went to check out the anti-war rallies, my parents insisted that the family attend a pro-Nixon rally on the Mall, where the police tear gassed the counter demonstrators, which of course wafted up onto our family by the Monument. Otherwise, the sixties were cool, with country club swim team in the summers and school in the winter, and we emerged the decade and the early seventies fairly unscathed.
speaking of the country club, Dad was a poor golfer and a somewhat ungainly
tennis player. But his senior year at St.
Albans he lettered in football & soccer & continued with soccer at
in the days before the myriad of leisure sporting activities we now have
available, Dad excelled in off-beat sports.
He passed on his great love of body surfing, learned as a child in
then there was boules or Pétanque, perhaps you know the Italian
version, bocce. We raked courts
in the sand at the beach and played many a round in the yard in
Dad enjoyed the winter sports as well. I
can only really ice skate forwards, as I learned on Spa Creek in
In fact, Dad was accomplished at entertaining feats like juggling, & he was excellent with a yoyo. He could also stand at the end of a diving board, flop to his rump & execute a nifty dive into the pool -- the famous “spank the baby”. Then there was his amazing ability to play the recorder with his nose & whistle harmony – always an in demand party trick.
loved music, singing in a madrigal group and with the
of both duty, dedication, and fortitude, my parents sacrificed a lot in
creature comforts to educate their children.
Nothing has been done to the
not a gardener, like his parents, he was more the yard man, at home with his
loppers and saws, with only his trademark white terry-cloth hat visible moving
above the bushes in
My parents enjoyed a good party, and they loved to dance. My Dad worked a room well with a warm smile, hearty handshake and great conversation. We too have fond memories of time in bars and restaurants with them in DC in my high school and your college years.
My Dad was fond of the ladies’ company & vice versa, but he was absolutely dedicated to my mother. When my Mom died, he told his doctor, his reason for all the chemo & radiation was gone (what were we I asked, chopped liver?), but we knew it was true. He showed incredible loyalty, dedication and care for my Mom.
In his final weeks, my Dad always gracious & welcoming, immediately won over his caretakers as the Martha Jefferson House.
also felt a duty to his community. With
the Alexandria Symphony, he spent several years as bookkeeper, who’s only way
out was to become president. He served
as president of the Alexandria Association, president of the
in the end for all this, his good nature, his inherited love of words and silly
turns of phrase, his dedication to family, school, & community, his inner
fortitude, it was my Dad’s abiding faith that impresses me. In his own words, he really wanted his
children and grandchildren to know that his basic beliefs fueled his life. Yet these beliefs were not static.
“They have evolved; they are evolving. This does not mean that I am continually changing my mind, or inventing new things, but that as I have progressed through life, I have matured. The capacity to mature is infinite, and this fact is uplifting encouraging. You and I will never reach full maturity. I find this fact most comforting and exciting, to know that I can and will continue to learn and be refined in spirit and soul as long as I live.”
I firmly believe that my father will continue to learn and spirit refined, that he is now untied with my brother and his bride. He would not want us to be sad today, but to be of good cheer and enjoy the good party to follow, both today and in our lives.
Godspeed, Sumner Kittelle Moore.
 From “The Credo of Sumner K. Moore” Likely written in the early to mid 1990’s, on his word processor.