Great outdoors, country living and law in County Attorney’s genes (jeans)

GEORGETOWN — Farming, the great outdoors and country living are in J. Everett Moore Jr.’s genes.

An attorney by trade, blue jeans are his everyday work attire at the Moore & Rutt law firm, which was formed around 1990.

“I come to work every day in blue jeans. A lot of my clients are people I know and they are comfortable with that. As a matter of fact, people are more comfortable,” said Mr. Moore. “I’ve got a closet in there. I’ll find out if this is a suit client, a khaki client or a blue jean client. I’ve got a little sign that hangs on the door that says, ‘Dressing Room in Use.’ I change based on what I need to do. I’m comfortable with being me.”

These days Mr. Moore, 66 with his 67th birthday in July, does a lot of transactional law. “I do a lot of real estate transactions, wills and trusts,” he said. “I typically do not go to court anymore. I did earlier in my career.”

He does wear his suit duds when serving as Sussex County’s county attorney.

His relished comfort zone is piloting a tractor evenings while working on wildlife plots, hunting in Canada or far away reaches of the United States or his traditional morning pitstop on his way to work at the law firm on Market Street in Georgetown.

“I start out each morning at Wilson’s Store. It helps keep me grounded. That’s who I hang around with; people I grew up with, and relatives,” said Mr. Moore.

J. Everett Moore Jr. with one of his successes in big-game hunting adventures.

His love for hunting and involvement in outdoor sportsmen’s groups has paired with some well-known sports figures and celebrities: Jeff Foxworthy, Prime Time Country host Gary Chapman, Wade Boggs, the late Curt “Mr. Perfect” Hennig and Dennis Byrd to name a few. Mr. Moore and his farm ponderosa have been featured in outdoors television shows.

“The founder of Buckmasters and the star of their TV show, Jackie Bushman, he’s a friend. He has done TV shows here at my house,” said Mr. Moore. “Right now, Trent Cole, who was an All-Pro for the Eagles and last two years played with the Colts, is a close friend of mine and we do a lot of hunting together. He’s got a TV show, ‘Blitz TV.’ He films at my house and on the farm. So, I’ve done a lot of hunting film. I’ve been on back in the days when it was “TNN Outdoors.” I’ve been on Pursuit Channel and some other outdoor shows over the years.”

J. Everett Moore Jr. with his book: “Growin’ up Country: Rural life in the 1950s and 1960s.”

His upbringing was the motivation for his book: “Growin’ up Country: Rural life in the 1950s and 1960s.” It has had two printings. A copy sells for $29.95.

In his law school days at The College of William & Mary, he was a member of Wildroots, a 1950s band popular in the Williamsburg, Va. area. The band shared performance venues with the likes of Danny & the Juniors, Joey Dee and the Starlighters, the Flamingos, the Drifters and The Five Satins.

His college days began at Del Tech and then the University of Delaware. While at the University of Delaware, Mr. Moore, a Republican, became actively involved in politics, which led to an association with a man who would later become Senior Advisor and Deputy Chief of Staff during the George W. Bush administration – Karl Rove.

Mr. Moore has four children and three grandchildren. His oldest daughter is vice president of Wells Fargo in Richmond, Va.; his next oldest daughter lives in Georgetown and is a teacher and his youngest daughter lives in Brazil and for the last three years has been the head librarian at the American Embassy School of Brazil.

His son, the youngest of the four children, works for Grotto Pizza. “He makes the dough for all of the pizza in Delaware,” said Mr. Moore. “Growing up, I told him, ‘I want you to make a lot of dough … he does, literally!’”

This week’s Person to Meet: J. Everett Moore Jr.

Your Sussex County roots run deep. How deep?

“Some branches of my family tree go back to 1600s and 1700s in Sussex County. I can go from Industrial Park Boulevard down Springfield Road to Wilson’s Store clear across to Rt. 5 … one of my ancestors owned every piece of land on both sides of that road that whole length.”

“I was literally born on one farm and live on the next. I was born on the farm in 1950. Except for being away to college I’ve lived either where I grew up or the house next to it. I moved there in 1975 and I’ve been there ever since.”

After graduating from Georgetown High School, college was not your preference?

“I did not want to go to college. I wanted to stay home and farm. My father was much wiser than I and he said like your two older brothers you’ll go to college. ‘If you don’t know what you want, I’d like you to get a teaching degree. That way you’ve got something to fall back on if farming doesn’t work out.’”

First stop: Del Tech?

“I started out, I wanted to be a wrestling coach and phys ed teacher. Del Tech had just started that. I was in the second class at Del Tech in the college parallel program. I was the second ever president of Student Government out there. I’m still active in doing things for the college. I enjoy doing things for the college. I was past chairman of the development council at Del Tech. When Jack Owens died I gave his eulogy.”

Then it was the University of Delaware and The College of William & Mary:

“From there I went to the University of Delaware, the main campus for two years. I was in the Student Senate up there. Then I went to law school at the College of William & Mary. I was very fortunate. I was accepted to quite a few law schools. But back then we didn’t travel to different colleges and law schools. I knew I loved history so much so that’s kind of where I wanted to go. It was a great spot for a guy who loves history. I graduated from law school in 1975.”

Why law school?

“I think the real reason, when I was president of the Student Government at Del Tech I was seeing an ability to help people. I saw the legal profession as a way to do that. I had a strong love of politics, too from the aspect of the policy, and what it could do to help people. Then I gravitated towards law.”

J. Everett Moore Jr. of Georgetown is an outdoors sportsman, who enjoys hunting and fishing and wildlife conservation and management.

Your passion for hunting and wildlife conservation?

“Not as much fishing as I used too. I’ve been fortunate, I’ve got a pond on my home farm … and I was able to dig a 15-acre pond on one of my other farms. It’s large. I do some fishing. Ninety percent of my land is intensively managed for wildlife. I do a lot of hunting. I do a lot of planting for food plots for deer turkeys. And a lot of people think, ‘Well, you’re doing that to kill them but the amount of other animals that use those same habitats … I do certain areas I do not hunt at all. I leave them aside as sanctuary. I’m involved in Quality Deer Management Association. I know the national founder of that. In the past, I’ve been involved with Buckmasters. I set up Buckmasters of Delaware years ago.”

Care to share some of your hunting adventures?

“I’ve hunted in Canada. I killed a huge elk with a bow in Canada. Got him at 70 yards. He scored 405 which meant he had 405 inches of antler on its head. I’ve hunted in Colorado, New Mexico, Idaho, Alabama …”

After a series of detached retina, you lost total sight in your left eye. You had to improvise your hunting technique?

“Unfortunately, I was left-eye dominant. I lost my left eye. Now, I’m a right-hander. Ninety percent of my hunting was with bow and arrow, not a gun. I just can’t do it right-handed. So, I’ve gone to crossbow. I had to learn to shoot a gun right-handed. I got in New Mexico a big bull shooting right-handed. At my age in 2011, I would have been 61 then I first lost the eye, after that many years to switch over was tough.”

“You do what you’ve got to. I am very grateful. I can still drive. I can still read.”

It’s tradition: J. Everett Moore Jr.’s daily routine starts with a stop at Wilson’s Store in Georgetown.

What was the motivation for your book?

“I do a lot of real estate settlements, and will signings. Usually at the beginning of the settlement, people look at me, ‘Where are you originally from?’ I say, ‘This accent is right here.’ Then I started telling them stories. I tell them about how Noxzema was created in this area. I tell them about the ‘Little Engine That Could’ and the Massey Landing’s connection. Or I tell them about the lifestyle around here. We were very closed. A big trip for us was to go to Salisbury. I remember the first time I went over the Bay Bridge with Cub Scouts to go to an Orioles game, we got on the other side of the bridge over by Annapolis and some of the hills there, I thought I was in the Appalachian Mountains. It’s so flat here. And also, what it was like, you had the church as the center of the community, a little country as the center of the community and what people did and how they interacted.”

“So, these realtors and the bankers were like, ‘Everett, you’ve got to write a book.’”

“Another thing doing the book; we didn’t grow up taking a lot of pictures. You got your school pictures and that was about it. So, I did a lot work in the archives finding pictures. I would go to antique stores with a camera, and say, ‘Hey, do you mind if I take a picture of this item?’ or I’d get stuff off internet. It (eye surgery) delayed it for about a year.”

The first printing was in 2012 and the second printing in 2013?

“It has sold in nearly every state in the country. It has amazed me. I marketed it as not a local history but a lifestyle book. I’ve had letters from across the country that (people) say, ‘Even though I grew up in the mountains the lifestyle is identical.’”

How about the Wildroots band, named for the “slick your hair back” Wildroot product?

“I played guitar and also did Elvis impersonations. I played part of my second year of law school, all of of my last year of law school. And then I would go down on weekends after I got out of law school. We played a lot of big hotels in Williamsburg. We played a lot military bases because there is a lot of those around. We were making very good money for a band back in that day. All of us were law students or lawyers except one, and that was the drummer. We started out, we played at a law fraternity. There was a DJ there. He had asked for some guys to lip synch. We said, ‘We’ll get a group of guys together and play.’ He liked us. He said, ‘You guys are good.’ He started booking us. That is how it grew. We played at the Petersburg Octoberfest where there would be literally thousands and thousands of people.”

“It was a lot of fun. It was different. You’d be greased up on the weekends and then you are back to law school.”

You also served on the Indian River School District board of education?

“I ran for school board. I got literally snatched out of the audience and put on the school board when Bruce Rogers moved out of the district. My first vote was on Adele Jones. She was the teacher that flunked too many students; national news. My first vote was literally to vote on her case again. We reinstated her. Then I ran and there were three people against me and I got 70-plus percent of the vote in that.”

OK, the Karl Rove connection?

“During my college years there was so few young people going with the Republican Party. Me and Ron Smith from Kent County were starting a Young Republicans at the University of Delaware. We got a call from this guy, ‘Let me come meet with you guys and see if you can change it to a College Republicans.’ We met with this guy; and he’s a skinny kid. He said, ‘If you change this to College Republicans, you’ll be the president of statewide College Republicans, because there is no other here and I’ll get credit because I am creating a new one. And he said, ‘I’ll get you down to D.C., a lot of cool stuff.’ We did it. We got invited to his house on weekends – and it’s Karl Rove. There would be six or seven us, we’d stay at his house. Lee Atwater was always there who was previous chairman of the national party. We would meet a lot of people as a result of that. From that I came back from law school and re-started the Young Republicans here, and became county chairman for eight years and eventually ended up state party chairman.”

Closing thoughts?

“We had an exchange student from Lima, Peru live at our house when I was a junior in high school. I wanted to go see him bad. And I’d always said I would never fly. I am scared. I thought, ‘No way am I getting on a plane.’ After my first year of college I went down to Lima. That totally changed me. There was a junta that had gone during that time, too. I was seeing such poverty that was incredible. A lot of times there would be dirt floors, one room, roosters in cages, a little cot, the dining room table in the center and they (parents) would ask their kids, ‘Come bring your report card. Show him, he’s from America. Show him your English score.’ I said, ‘Man, I am blowing my education.’ These people were so proud to get education. That really matured me. It made a huge impact.”

“And Jose ended up having a daughter and his daughter was named after my mother. There is not many Dorothys in Peru. His wife’s name is Judy so he called her Judy Dorothy. They still come up and visit. His daughter came to live with me and we raised her for two years with my children going to school here in Georgetown.”

The Sussex County Post delivers news from Georgetown and southern Delaware. Follow @SussexPost on Twitter.

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