Monday, September 21, 2015

Merle Moore Has Died....

Merle Moore has died, in a nursing home in Cowen, West Virginia, the town nearest my first sleepaway non-family/friend  experience at Baptist camp.  She grew up in Webster County and became a librarian and important figure in Clarksburg and the state.  You can read her obituary here: (

I always think of that day in 1979 (I think) when I walked in the Clarksburg library on my first trip home after the publication of my first book–  and saw no indication anyone even knew I’d had a book published.

Sadly, I turned to leave and heard a strong West Virginia voice call out, “Is that Meredith Sue Willis??”

And it was Merle, full skirt, informal blouse– the head of the Clarksburg/Harrison County library, and she had recognized me!  She had set aside copies of book for a special display, and, at least for an instant, all my dreams were fulfilled: strangers in my home region giving me recognition for my  writing not for being a good student a good girl.

Merle was a wonderful combination of organizer and sharp visualizer of how to make things happen, but she also loved to party, and often stood in opposition to the gentility of upper class Harrison County.  She also had a lot of Appalachian consciousness and Webster county patriotism.  At one point she even thought or running for the state legislature.  She did big obvious things like taking the lead in building a modern library for Harrison County, but also behind the scenes work on helping found the  Harrison County Italian Heritage Festival.  She was a supporter of Davis Grubb (and always insisted he put her in one of his books), but she also loved John Updike.

She was an important part of my rediscovery of myself as a West Virginian and Appalachian.  A great lady, and sorry to know she’s gone.

No comments: