Giving Moore to Aspen
November 27, 2013
The fingerprints of many families can be found in the fabric of Aspen — especially those of the Moore family.
Tom and Carolyn Moore are proud of their connection to Aspen. Tom was born at the old Pitkin County Hospital in 1942, eight years after his parents, James and Alberta, rolled into town in their Model A Ford. When Carolyn agreed to marry Tom in 1964, she also married into the Aspen family. It was a perfect match in many ways, as Carolyn's generosity as a local volunteer carried on a tradition her mother-in-law began decades earlier.
The Aspen culture of the 1950s and '60s was based on skiing, but many year-round families relied on one another to survive, often trading and bartering for the basics.
Tom Moore learned those lessons from his parents, and he carries on that tradition to this very day. As Aspen has grown, so has the Moore family's reach. Today, every child who steps into an Aspen public school building is standing on property that once belonged to the Moore family. There are more than 70 homes near the schools that Tom Moore had a hand in building. The free nordic ski trails that run on lower Maroon Creek travel across land donated by the Moore family. Hundreds of Roaring Fork Valley kids use the Aspen Valley Ski and Snowboard Club facilities and chairlift, which are located on land the Moores donated to the club.
In January, Tom and Carolyn will join Tom's parents, James and Alberta Moore, when they're inducted into the Aspen Hall of Fame.
When the Moores celebrate their 50th wedding anniversary next year, they'll not only honor five decades of their love for each other — they'll celebrate 50 years of being married to Aspen, a love story unto itself.
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IN THE EARLY DAYS
Tom Moore grew up in the Monarch Building, which back then was known as Moore's Court. The Moores still own the building on Monarch Street, and they make it a point to keep rents affordable in comparison to similar spaces in Aspen.
Tom began skiing at age 4 and was racing by the time he was 7.
"I got pretty competitive," Moore said. "The Aspen Junior Ski Team was damn good, and we had the best coach in the nation in Gale Spence. He was like a second dad and took care of us like we were his own kids."
Most kids were four-way skiers, meaning they would compete in downhill, slalom, cross-country and jumping. They also had a reputation for fearlessness.
"There was always somebody on crutches," Moore said. "We raced without fear and sometimes paid the price."
Moore was also part of the many shenanigans that were prevalent at that time. The prank that resonated the most throughout Aspen happened during Moore's high school days. Along with his buddies T.J. Sardy and Dan Glidden, the trio of boys painted a raised middle finger on the water tank that stood on the Little Nell run on Aspen Mountain, with the finger facing toward town.
Charlie Maddalone was the head of mountain operations at the time, and Maddalone didn't hide the fact that he thought the finger was pretty funny.
"When Charlie painted over the finger, he didn't really hide it," Moore said. "You could see that finger until they removed the tank. Most of our friends in town thought it was hilarious."
Moore attended the University of Colorado in the early 1960s and lived in Boulder with three other men. When Moore and two of his roommates returned home after a day at the Continental Divide Racetrack near Denver, they found their fourth roommate, Travis Ward, home with several young women. Carolyn was one of them.
Tom was struck by Carolyn and didn't hesitate to ask her out, to which she promptly said, "I don't think so."
It was Carolyn's first exposure to how stubborn her future husband could be.
"I wanted that girl," Tom said. "I knew right away I really liked her and wanted to marry her."
Carolyn was 19 at the time and had come to Colorado from New York; she was an avid skier. Carolyn also had a boyfriend at the time, but that didn't stop Tom.
"I spent too much time trying to figure out how to get rid of that guy," Tom said.
In 1963, Carolyn moved to Aspen for a summer job. Tom was working for the Forest Service, and he was more than delighted to learn that Carolyn was going to be living in Aspen. That summer, the two began to date seriously.
One of Carolyn's friends, Judy Scheig, was engaged; her ring was made by Aspen resident Jim Hayes. On Aug. 22, 1963, Tom asked Carolyn if she liked Judy's ring and whether she wanted one of her own.
After some serious thought, Carolyn replied, "Sure."
The Moores were married the next year. Moore's father had bought 300 acres on McLain Flats, and once the property caretakers moved out in 1966, the Moores moved in and have been there since. The large, red barn on the property has become a local landmark.
"Our friends thought we were crazy for moving so far away from Aspen proper," Carolyn said. "There wasn't a single light out here in 1966."
The Moores have two grown children and four grandchildren who live in the valley. Travis, 46, is an Aspen High teacher and lives in the affordable housing at Five Trees. Cinnamon, 44, is a housewife and now lives near Aspen in the Brush Creek subdivision.
Tom still skis off the groomed runs, but Carolyn retired from the slopes a few years ago after a knee injury.
For Carolyn, The Thrift Shop of Aspen became the place for her to give back to her community; the shop not only sells donated goods at affordable prices — it uses that money to make grants to other nonprofit organizations to provide scholarships to area high school graduates.
For more than 40 years, Carolyn's been a fixture at The Thrift Shop, volunteering every other Thursday.
Carolyn served as president of The Thrift Shop in 1978 and has been a board member since 1979. One thing that Moore was passionate about was finding The Thrift Shop a permanent home, so when the Aspen Fire Department made an offer the shop couldn't refuse in 1983, Moore jumped in.
"The folks at the Fire Department pushed to sublet us the space where the shop is today," she said. "They really went to bat for us."
Moore and fellow volunteer Karen Ryman were put in charge of coordinating the building of the new shop. The project was the epitome of what The Thrift Shop stood for.
"Aspen really stepped up," Moore said. "Almost all of the labor, materials and services were donated. Tom (Moore) came in and built all the shelving. It was an amazing community effort."
Even better, the rent for the shop was set at $1 a year and remains at that price to this day, allowing The Thrift Shop to donate more money back into the community.
Ryman, who has volunteered for more than 30 years, said Carolyn is literally carrying on the Moore family tradition.
"Carolyn knows what we do at the shop carries a great value to our community," she said. "Seeing what happens through our organization is very rewarding."
In 1994, Moore took over as head of the volunteers and held that position until 2012. There were 60 volunteers when she took the position; now the shop has more than 120 volunteers.
In 2008, the shop was basically rebuilt when the Fire Department went through its own remodel.
"It took a lot of fundraising, donations and grants," Carolyn said. "We raised $2.1 million to make it happen. Once again, the community stepped up. It's been very satisfying seeing the end result. The shop is thriving, and we're donating around a half a million dollars a year."
MOORE OPEN SPACE
Tom Moore cemented his connection with skiing when he became a coach for the Aspen Ski Club in the 1960s. He was the club's president from 1975 to 1977 and spent nearly a decade on the board of directors.
Carolyn also did her part with the club; she was head of fundraising from 1966 to 1973 and was head of housing from 1970 to 1976, when she lined up racers with local host families.
Tom took a few years away from the club but returned in the early 1980s to improve the nordic program. His son, Travis, and many of his son's friends were getting into nordic skiing when Moore decided to develop a series of trails through his family's property along Maroon Creek Road.
Moore successfully reintegrated the nordic system back into the ski club.
"We've got 100 kilometers of groomed nordic rails around Aspen now," Moore said proudly. "Even better, it's free. That's one hell of an amenity for the community."
After Tom's father, James, died in 1991, the Moores inherited enough land to push their total holdings to 720 acres. To balance the taxes owed, the Moores sold some of the land and donated part, as well.
The family sold 65 acres to the county, which is now known as the Moore Open Space, located on the southwest corner of the Highway 82/Maroon Creek Road oundabout.
With a nordic system in place, Moore turned his attention to the antiquated clubhouse at the top of Mill Street and the club rope tow.
The Moores donated 2 acres to the club near the Aspen schools campus to build a new clubhouse and put in a chairlift for the club to use. The Aspen community backed the idea and raised the money to complete the project in 2000. The Moores paid half the bill for the new clubhouse and lift.
The 215-acre Moore Family Planned Unit Development, now called the Five Trees development, was built adjacent to the Aspen public school campus on land the Moore family donated, as well.
Much like his parents, Tom Moore gave back to the community that he calls home.
"Embracing Aspen and giving back to our community was the way I was brought up," Tom said. "When people ask why we do what we do, I tell them because it's the right thing to do.
"We have our family, our home and our big, red barn," she said. "That's really all we need."