Jane Moore, an inspiration to all

Published 5:50pm Friday, May 10, 2013

Many acts of kindness and compassion in Selma go practically unnoticed by most of us. Selma is blessed with a fair share of those who exude the Christian spirit each and everyday.

Jane Beverly McKenzie Moore, a woman I have known for several years, certainly fits the criteria of Selma treasure. During the time I have known her, she has unselfishly given of herself for others. She is a selfless person always looking out for those around her. What an inspiration she must be to her children, grandchildren and all who wander into her path.

In order to acquire some idea of the depth and strength of character of Jane, one needs to begin with her parents. As is the case frequently, good parenting produces good children.

Jane was the first child of William Elias and Josephine Bradford McKenzie. A baby sister, Josephine Bradford, mother’s namesake, was added later to round out the family. The two McKenzie sisters were born at St. Vincent’s in Birmingham where the family resided at that time.

Selma was the home of Mrs. McKenzie from birth until about the age of six; ironically, at about the same age, Mr. McKenzie was moving to Selma. However, when they got married neither lived here. They moved back to Selma in 1941 as husband and wife.

Jane’s dad, William or Billy as he was called, was trained at Craig Field as an electrician. During and after training he helped with some of the original wiring on the base. The McKenzies were one of the first families to move into the NBF Homes adjacent to Craig.

Of course, World War II began for America not long after the McKenzies settled back in Selma and Mr. McKenzie decided at the age of 37 he was needed for the war effort. He joined the Army Air Corps in 1943 leaving a wife and two small daughters behind. Mrs. McKenzie did her share by performing defense work at Craig during his absence. Much credit is due the WW II generation for the sacrifices made by entire families to free the world of tyranny.

William Elias McKenzie served with the 455th Bombardment Group (Heavy) rising to the rank of Staff Sergeant. He wrote a letter to Jane in 1945 from the battlefields of Europe, a letter she keeps and treasures to this day. It was published on Veterans Day in 1986.

In the letter, Mr. McKenzie stated to his then 9-year-old daughter; “I am telling you this, my child, for you and your friends will be the next generation, and I want you to know that this kind of thing must stop — for men are destroying themselves. For everyone of us has lost something that we can never regain again; something fine is gone, and something horrible has taken its place. And only through our Lord Jesus can we ever hope to become normal humans again.”

Mr. McKenzie returned in late 1945 reuniting the family torn apart by the war. Not long afterwards, he began his own electrical business, Dallas Electric Company. His dutiful wife, Josephine, worked alongside as a bookkeeper for the business. For many years Mr. McKenzie installed the Christmas lights for downtown Selma.

The McKenzies bought property and built a home on Old Orrville Road. Later, property adjacent to theirs, became available and the family purchased it. The plans were to develop it for homes, but a name was needed for the area.

The name Meadowview Circle was chosen by family consensus in a room overlooking the meadow across the street now occupied by Meadowview Christian Church and Meadowview Christian School. Consequently, the entire area became known as Meadowview.

Jane graduated Albert G. Parrish High School in 1954. Both McKenzie siblings attended and graduated Judson College in Marion. Jane graduated cum laude in 1958 with a double major of English and art with a secondary teaching certificate.

After graduation, Jane began her teaching career at the Ft. Benning Children’s School in Georgia. She taught at Ft. Benning on two separate occasions during the ensuing years for a total of three and a half years.

In 1959, Jane married Walter Moore whom she had met while attending Judson. Dr. McCrummen married them at First Baptist Selma where she had been a long time member. The Moores were blessed along the way with three wonderful children, Walt, Lisa and Alyson. Walt and Lisa were born at St. Frances in Columbus, GA, and Alyson at the old Selma Baptist Hospital.

The Moore family moved to Selma in 1964 with their two children at the time. Intertwined with raising a young family and between teaching jobs, Jane worked a stint with the Welfare Department. Her work there was with the elderly, blind, disabled and nursing home patients.

After 1973, Jane was thrust into the position of providing for herself and the children. A task she threw herself into with determination and resolve. She is quick to acknowledge there were many helping hands on her journey.

Jane returned to teaching in 1974 at Queen of Peace where she taught for two years. In 1976, she was hired at Eastside Jr. High where she spent the next 13 years in several teaching positions. After Eastside, employment at Selma High spanned a six-year period until retirement in 1994. After retirement from public schools, she taught another year at Meadowview Christian School.

In 1979, during her teaching tenure at Eastside, Jane earned a master’s degree from the University of Alabama in Secondary Education with emphasis on reading. Ironically, as she was completing her master’s, oldest child, Walt, was entering the University. A third generation, Jane’s grandson Joseph, is now enrolled at the University of Alabama in the School of Music.

Not only has Jane been an inspiration to her family, but think of the lives she touched during her teaching career. I recall asking a student several years ago who her favorite teacher was coming though public school here in Selma, and the answer was Mrs. Moore. There are so many more out there grateful to Jane for her encouragement and support during difficult times in public school.

Jane is a blessing to her church, First Baptist, where she taught 27 years in the 5th and 6th grade department. It is a rarity to see her at church without her granddaughters, McKenzie and Liz, and other children from her neighborhood. Jane is just as generous with adults who happen to get in her path. You never know whom she will show up with at church.

You may not have known, but Jane was an original recycler. Even before recycling was cool, Jane was collecting plastic and glass driving all the way to Montgomery to the nearest collection center.

In case you have not discerned, I admire Jane and the Christian attitude she radiates. In spite of some difficulties along the way, she remains faithful and always has a broad smile and a word of encouragement.

Jane exemplifies the phrase, “Be kinder than necessary, for everyone you meet is fighting some kind of battle.”

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