Cover photo for Geraldine Moore's Obituary
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1921 Geraldine 2009

Geraldine Moore

June 18, 1921 — July 18, 2009

Geraldine Elsie Atkinson Moore, 88, died at Asbury Place in Kingsport, Tenn. on July 18, 2009, of complications of Alzheimers disease. Geraldine was born to Fred and Elsie (Hoffman) Atkinson on June 18, 1921 on a farm in Swift Creek in Darlington County, S.C., the oldest of three children. She loved the farm with its trees and wildflowers, and kept her passion for the outdoors all her life. The family moved into the nearby town of Hartsville, where Geraldine discovered her love of music at 3 years old in 'music kindergarten,'? where she learned to play piano. She was naturally athletic and excelled in basketball and tennis. Her father continued to work the family farm and shared their harvest with the less fortunate during the Great Depression. After graduating from Hartsville High School in 1938, Geraldine attended Coker College in Hartsville and then transferred to Furman University. She won eight singles tennis cups during her college years and was named Furmans best all-round woman athlete in her senior year. She graduated with a B.A. in music with honors in 1942, in the midst of World War II. With her college degree and the war intensifying, Geraldine''now known as 'Jerry'?''applied to enter the U.S. Navy as a WAVE''the last branch of the armed services to admit women and the only group granted full military benefits, thanks to First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt. The testing was rigorous and few women were selected from the state. Jerry was assigned to the Charleston Navy Yard as a communications officer, where she communicated the status of ships in distress in the Atlantic to higher-ranking officers. Later she was transferred to San Francisco and served at the main Navy base before receiving orders for Hunters Point Naval Shipyard near the Golden Gate Bridge. It was at Hunters Point that Jerry had a close encounter with the atomic bomb that devastated Hiroshima, Japan, and led to the end of the war. She decoded the top-secret message that described the crate that would arrive at the base and would be shipped out on the flagship Indianapolis, from which it would be assembled on the island of Tinian and loaded onto the airplane known as the Enola Gay. The crated bomb was held in the building where she worked alone on second shift with a Marine guard. She had dinner that night with a WAVE friend and a man they had worked with in Charleston who was a communications officer on the Indy. He was so nervous he spilled his coffee and said he was never coming home alive. That proved true''after delivering its top-secret cargo, the Indianapolis was torpedoed by a Japanese submarine and more than 800 naval officers and sailors perished, most from exposure and from being eaten by sharks. Their nervous friend was among the victims. After the war Jerry went to Boston on the GI Bill and went to Katherine Gibbs, a respected secretarial school. Her first job was as executive secretary to Dr. McNally, the director of research at Eastman Kodak in Kingsport. In 1949 she married Dr. Herbert Leslie 'Bert'? Moore, a Johnson City, Tenn., dentist who had also served in the Navy during the war years. They raised two children, Scott and Jean ('Marat'?). The family attended Munsey Memorial Methodist Church, where Jerry played piano and performed with the bell choir. Bert and Jerry were married 28 years until his sudden and untimely death at 56 in 1977. In 1995 she returned to her beloved Hartsville, built a home, and enjoyed her friends and South Carolina relatives until 2002 when she returned to Johnson City for health reasons. She lived in Johnson City for a total of 51 years. She lived for seven years in the Asbury retirement network in various facilities in Johnson City and Kingsport, Tenn., as her dementia progressed. She continued to play piano beautifully until six months before she died, long after she was able to speak. In addition to her parents and her husband, Jerry was preceded in death by a brother, Fred W. Atkinson, Jr., and a niece, Beverly Atkinson. Her loving family includes son Scott Moore of Knoxville; Jean L. 'Marat'? Moore (Steve Lindner) of Greenbelt, Md.; a sister, Jean Atkinson Donnelly of Smyrna, Ga.; nieces Susan Russell Haacke (Robert) and Ann Atkinson Crandall (Jay); nephews Tom Donnelly (Marisa), David Donnelly; Fred W. Atkinson IV; John Atkinson; Glenn Russell (Linda); George Russell; two step-granddaughters, Jill Lindner Youngman and Joan Lindner, both of DuQuoin, Ill.; three step-great grandsons; and several great-nieces and nephews. The family is deeply grateful to everyone who helped Jerry during her years with Alzheimers disease. In particular we thank Louise Crowe of Johnson City; the former staff and residents of Asbury Place in Johnson City; the staff of Asbury Place at Steadman Hill and Asbury Baysmont, both in Kingsport; the staff of Wellmont Hospice; and the wonderful staff at the Alzheimers Association in Johnson City. Memorials may be made in the form of contributions to the Alzheimers Association, 207 N. Boone St., Johnson City, TN 37604. On Wednesday, July 22, following a private interment at Monte Vista Memorial Park, the family will receive friends in the parlor area of Munsey Memorial United Methodist Church at 10:30 a.m. A Celebration of Life for Geraldine A. Moore will be held at 11:30 a.m. in the church chapel. The Rev. Bedford Transou will officiate.

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