Reg Moore: Destin’s ’Renaissance man’ remembered
Although he hadn’t lived in Destin for almost 15 years, he left his mark on the fishing village that is still visible today.
Reginald “Reg” Moore, 87, who passed away on May 16 in Pinetta, Florida, left a legacy of buildings in Destin, some dating back to the 1970s, that have become iconic in nature.
But not only did he leave his mark in the architectural realm of things but on the hearts of people as well.
“The man just had a huge heart and one of the most incredible senses of humor I’ve ever met,” said Jim Curry, who met Moore in the late 70s.
At the time, Curry, who later became the county administrator, was the director for the jail in Okaloosa County and they were in the middle of a jail expansion project and needed an architect. Moore came and volunteered his services for free.
“That was the first jail in the round (design) that was built but there was many more to come over the years,” Curry said, noting it was also the start of a life-long friendship with Moore, who was part of the jail expansions until the 1990s.
"He was not only a good, close friend but he was a mentor,“ Curry said. ”He had an incredible attitude about everything. He was something of a renaissance man.
“And he never met a stranger. Everybody just thought the world of him. He just had one of those kinds of personalities,” he added.
And that personalty quickly drew in Chester Kroeger and Tim Edwards, co-owners of Fudpucker’s.
Kroeger said his first encounter with Moore was in his architecture office.
“When I first walked in, he had plans everywhere,” Kroeger said. “He had a great sense of humor, very dry witted ... nothing ruffled him. I just got a really good feel for the guy.”
So when Kroeger needed to expand Fudpucker’s in Fort Walton Beach in 1987, he contacted Moore.
“That started a friendship that lasted until a week before he died, which was the last time I saw him,” Kroeger said.
But in the late 1980s Fudpucker’s was doing so well in Fort Walton that Kroeger decided to build one in Destin. After buying the piece of property on which the restaurant now sits from Mattie Kelly, “Reg was the person we turned to. He had a feel for spacial relationships that was astounding,” Kroeger said.
“We created essentially this treehouse-type structure ... like it had washed up on the beach with this iconic bird, the pelican. And Reggie designed everything, of course with our help,” Kroeger said.
“He was the driving force behind all of the crazy non-square spaces in that building. The only square area of that entire building was the bathrooms,” he said, noting that was because of the nature of the bathroom stalls.
Edwards said Moore’s design work was more than just checking off boxes, that he understood that each room should have a different feel.
“It was an experience walking through his designs and spaces. There was purpose to everything he did in the design of Fudpucker’s,” said Edwards, who also had a degree in architecture from Princeton University.
Edwards said Moore was a great architect and he didn’t have an ego.
“It never meant a lot to him to be recognized ... he just loved the art of it,” Edwards said. “He never took himself to serious. I always felt Reg was under-recognized.”
So much so that Edwards and Kroeger got together and created their own award for Moore. It was called the Amberjack Architectural Award.
“It cracked him up,” Edwards said.
They presented him with a trophy and a fish carcass for winning the award.
Moore loved to fish as well. As a matter of fact, he loved to tell how he beat George W. Bush in a Bonfish Tournament in 1999 in Islamorada, Edwards said.
Kroeger said Moore was just a great guy to be around.
“To me, whenever we were kind of having a down day and wanted to get the heck out of the office and go laugh a little bit and shoot the bull ... Reg was the guy,” Kroeger said. “It was a lifelong friendship. He was kind of a mentor in a lot of ways. I wish my temperament was more like Reggies.
“He was one of these guys that no matter how much of a storm there was, it was like water running off the back of a duck. Me, I get into a storm like that, all I want to do is fight it,” he added.
Not only was he a great architect with great spacial understanding, but Moore was like an “encyclopedia of knowledge,” Kroeger said.
“You could be having a discussion with him about something and the next thing you know you are down this deep path of how it happened or the consequences. It was unbelievable,” he said.
Edwards described him like an uncle that always made you feel like part of the family.
And his wife of 45 years, Jane Moore, rated him better than “high” on her list.
On a scale of 1 to 10, she ranked him at least a 13.
“He was an amazing, amazing man in so many ways,” Jane said.
Together they had a blended family of seven children.
“He was so interested in so many different things. And treated people so wonderfully and had a great sense of humor, that was off the charts,” she said.
Moore worked 42 years as an architect.
“He enjoyed working as an architect, he never felt like he went to work because he enjoyed it so much,” Jane said.
After Moore retired from architecture, he pursued his love of art and went to art school in Madison County. He went on to enter competitions with his art work.
“He had so many interests in life. You could not be bored and be part of his life,” she said.
Jane said Reg got real reward from his painting and art in always trying to do better.
“He was a man of so many talents,” she said.
Reg even took up auctioneering as a sideline job in the early 2000s.
“He was just a fascinating man and well educated. The thing that was so wonderful about him was he could blend right in with the richest of the rich or the poorest of the poor,” she said.
One of the Moore’s first adventures in Destin was The Donut Hole. However, Jane said Reg originally wanted to put an exotic house plant business there. But they went the way of the donuts instead and the building is one of Destin icons today.
“That was an experience I won’t forget,” Jane said. “His sense of humor, that was the one thing I’m thankful for that he never lost his sense of humor, right down to the last.”
"He wasn’t just an architect. He was a renaissance man,“ Edwards said. ”He did everything from art, to architecture, to donuts and everything in between.“
“He will be thoroughly missed,” Jane said. “I’m so pleased to have learned from him and be a partner with him. Just blessed. I’m just gonna miss him,” she said.