The Legacy of Dr. John Aaron Moore

Dr. J.A. Moore 1940

Dr. J.A. Moore

My grandfather, Dr. John Aaron Moore was the first of four generations of medical doctors from the Moore family. Three generations practiced medicine in El Dorado over a span of one hundred and three years, and the fourth generation who are still actively practicing are two sons of my sister Marilyn and her husband, Dr. George Berry. Their oldest son, Dr. James Berry is a Professor of Anesthesiology at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee while their youngest of four sons, Dr. David Berry is a Maternal-Fetal Specialist in Austin, Texas.

I have little remembrance of Granddad Moore because he died of heart disease in 1943 when I was only four years old. I heard many stories about him from Pop who idolized his father, from Bubba who remembered much more about him than I, and from many of my former patients when I practiced medicine in El Dorado.

The following is an article which appeared in The El Dorado Sunday News on September 21, 1930. Some of the words used are unusual and the format is typical of the news reporting in that day. This article is framed and hanging in our daughter Mary Kay’s home in Branson, Missouri.


By Clinton Sanders

When a man builds something he believes in it.

Dr. J.A. Moore, 57, distinguished physician and organizer deluxe, has contributed materially to the building of El Dorado- and he believes in it.

Theoretically it may be said that Dr. Moore was destined to find his way to prominence in the scheme of things in El Dorado.

His father was a “booster and believer” in this community years ago. His grandfather, W.B. Gresham was a commissioner who conceived the physical layout of this thriving metropolis in the days when horse-drawn carts were regarded as the luxurious mode of travel.

Any old-timer might ejaculate, “It sorta run in the blood and Doc Moore got a double-dose of it.”

The doctor is a man of uninterrupted thinking and an habitual doer. His life has been one of organization. In 28 years of successive residence here he has modestly erected to himself unseen monuments by following that program.

Dr. Moore is one of the organizers of the National Bank of Commerce; a charter member and director. He has been a stockholder in the First National Bank since its’ birth.

A profound Mason, Dr. Moore was instrumental in the erection of the $120,000 Masonic Temple here in 1925. He was trustee during the construction of the beautiful three-story building. He was worshipful master of the Mt. Moriah Lodge No. 18 F.A.M. at Lisbon, Ark. 1909 and 1910, and the past master of the El Dorado Lodge No. 13.

It was not that he bought his home on moving here in 1912 and of necessity make good because of the precious investment, that Dr. Moore wished to assist in the up-building of El Dorado.

This section was “home” to the young doctor. He was born May 9, 1873 on a farm near Three Creeks, Union County. He was educated in the common schools of the county and pursued a literary course at the State University, Fayetteville. Pride in, as well as obligation to a progressive community motivated the desire to make his a better town in which to live.

Even as he worked and planned to acquire an education, Dr. Moore labored for the city’s betterment. He kept laboratory books and swept dormitory floors to defray expenses of a literary course in Fayetteville. Before attending his first session at the Memphis, Tenn. Hospital Medical College, the then youthful Moore retraced his steps to the farm to raise a crop and get his “stake.” Successful with agriculture, he gained enough money to study a year.

He returned again to the farm and made his second crop, then back to school. In his third and last year at Memphis, he worked as a doctor’s assistant and borrowed money on an 80-acre tract of land back home in order to complete his curriculum.

Following his graduation in 1898, Dr. Moore located in Lisbon, Union County where he practiced for twelve years. Removing to Dexter, N.M. for a year, he felt the urge to “come home.” The year 1912 found him in El Dorado with his family.

He had married the former Miss Daisy May Graham of Lisbon, Union County in June, 1900. A conscientiously loving wife, Mrs. Moore fought for the principles of her husband. Their happy married life is happier today with three children. Walter, 29, the oldest is well-known and regarded here. He is an aviator and electrician; Berry, 27, is beginning a study of medicine, Little Rock; Lillie Mae, the only daughter, 20, is a graduate of Ouachita College, Arkadelphia.

A successful, lucrative practice has signaled Dr. Moore as a leader in his profession. He gained immeasurable respect for his untiring work in the establishment of the Warner-Brown hospital here. His time and money was for one cause – the alleviation of human suffering.

Since that memorial accomplishment, Dr. Moore has twice served as president of the hospital staff and today is its’ secretary. He is a charter member of the Union County Medical Society and has served as president and secretary of that body on numerous occasions. In addition, Dr. Moore is a member of the state, Southern and American Medical Societies.

In between those countless duties, he found time to do post-graduate work in Chicago in 1901; in New Orleans, 1912, 1915; in New York City, 1916, 1919 and again in 1923.

His spirit of accomplishment; however, reflects in those wee, dreary hours of a winter morning when he rode horseback for 20 miles to answer the call of patients. With the traditional “pill-box” slung about the saddle of the horse, “Doc” Moore swam chilly streams, traversed choppy fields and trudged homeward to shed a water-soaked overcoat in weather so cold the garment would stand unsupported in the hallway.

Dr. Moore prides his mustache. It’s there because “I graduated and entered the practice of medicine before 26 years of age, and I wanted to look like a man.”

Yes sir, the doctor still keeps his mustache- looks the part of and is a man. El Dorado is proud of him.  —–

Granddad Moore still has a namesake legacy in El Dorado; our son John Aaron whom we named for his great-grandfather. He and his wife Gina have lived in El Dorado since 1993 and are raising their three sons, Drew, age 19; Brady, age 17 and Landon, age 10. John is an attorney and Senior Vice-President of Murphy USA. The legacy in El Dorado continues.

Dr. John


A Panhandler At The Cotton Bowl

A Panhandler


As a young teen from a small Southern town I had no experience with life on the street in a large city such as Dallas and knew absolutely nothing about panhandlers. According to the definition of “panhandler” is one who accosts passers-by on the street to beg money from them. I met my first panhandler on January 1, 1955 on a Dallas street corner. The incident impacted me for years, and I still  deal with attitudes toward the poor and homeless which were formulated in my heart as a result.

I have written of my love for the Arkansas Razorbacks which dates back to my Bubba playing football for the Razorbacks from 1946-1948. He was a high school All-American tackle for the El Dorado Wildcats which resulted in a full scholarship to play tackle for the Razorbacks in the late 1940’s. He sustained a career-ending knee injury during his sophomore year and was unable to play in no more than two or three varsity games. Unfortunately I was never able to see him play in a Razorback uniform, but that did not dull my love for the team.

I was thrilled beyond words during the Christmas holidays in 1954 when the parents of a friend invited me to join them for a trip to the Cotton Bowl on New Year’s Day.  For the first time in years the Razorbacks had won the Southwest Conference title in football and received the automatic bid to play in the Cotton Bowl against Georgia Tech, the Southeast Conference champions. The invitation to see my team play in this huge game was a dream come true. We were to spend one night in a downtown hotel, attend the game which began at 1 P.M. and return to El Dorado the same day. The events which took place on the morning of the game have overshadowed in my memory everything else which happened.

Following the six hour drive to Dallas on the eve of the game it was difficult for me to sleep in a strange hotel, on a bed with a sagging mattress and the excitement of my first Cotton Bowl game streaming through my mind. I don’t remember sleeping at all, but arose completely refreshed and energized. Following breakfast I wanted to walk outside in front of the hotel and enjoy the noise of the crowd while joining in the standard Razorback cheer, “Wooo – pigs – sooie!! I didn’t stray far from the hotel entrance for fear of getting turned around in this unfamiliar setting and perhaps not being able to find my way back to the hotel before leaving for the stadium. There were no cell phones then.

All of a sudden a bedraggled street person approached me and began speaking. He appeared to be in his 50’s in age with a two to three day-old beard and reeking of body odor, tobacco and cheap wine. He said, “Sonny, is there any way you can help me?” I felt compassion for him since I had seen Pop help and treat men like this in his medical practice in El Dorado. I meekly said, “I will if I can.” He said, “I haven’t eaten in two days and am so hungry. Could you give me some money for food?” I thought this was something I could do because Pop had given me ten dollars for extra-spending money. In today’s economy ten dollars would be equivalent to fifty dollars.

I reached into my pocket and pulled one of the two five dollar bills and handed it to this supposedly hungry man, and he grabbed my hand to shake it and thanked me three or four times. As I watched him disappear into the growing crowd I assumed he was headed to some near-by restaurant to have his first meal in days. For the first time in my life I had actually been the agent of help for a hurting man, and the feelings I had deep within me were so gratifying. I kept thinking, “How great is this to feed a hungry man and see a Razorback game the same day!”

Within fifteen minutes the crowd within several blocks of the hotel was filling the sidewalks, and I was preparing to go back to the hotel when I spotted a scene which stunned me. Within twenty feet of me I saw the same man talking with three of four men, and thought he must be asking them for money also. I got close enough to see in his hand was a huge wad of money which looked like several hundred dollars. I heard him ask the men how many points would they give him on the upcoming game. He was placing bets on the Cotton Bowl game and a very small part of the money he was betting was one half of all the money I possessed. In trying to provide food for him I gave him money to gamble. I did not have the courage to confront him for fear he might hurt me. If he would rob a kid like me, he probably would have no qualms about beating me up.

I went around the corner where I couldn’t be seen and cried for several minutes. My tears and broken heart turned to anger and resentment, and I told God I would never again in my life give so much as a penny to a street bum. The incident so wounded me toward the homeless and street-people I kept the promise for years.

Cathy has helped me immensely in this area because she has such a loving and generous heart for the disadvantaged. I am not as stingy as I once was but still not as generous as I should be. In thinking what Jesus said about helping the helpless He said, “As you have done it to the least of these, you have done it to Me.” Because my heart was pure that day in Dallas in my intent to give, I believe Jesus credited it to my account of giving. What the panhandler did with it was his responsibility and not mine. The Lord Jesus has been patient  in making me a more cheerful giver.

Dr. John

The Revival at First Baptist El Dorado

First Baptist Church El Dorado, AR

First Baptist Church
El Dorado, AR

Cathy and I have had the privilege of serving in 6 different Southern Baptist churches. We have had wonderful experiences in each of the churches and have had made life-long friendships in each one.

When we moved to El Dorado in 1971 to establish my surgical practice we immediately joined the First Baptist Church without visiting any other church. I was raised in this church and had made a profession of faith at age 10 on an Easter Sunday. Many of my friends had done the same at that age, and it seemed to be the right thing. I had no understanding of grace and salvation and was simply joining the church, which I believed assured me of eternal life and a right standing with the Lord. In 1971 Pop had already departed, but Mom was still living and her membership was at First Baptist along with Bubba and his family. We were impressed with the excellent sermons by the pastor, Dr. Don Harbuck, and his winsome personality made us immediately feel welcomed.

During our early days in El Dorado Cathy and I were nominal church members, but then jointly decided to become more active in church to set a better example for our two young children at the time, John Aaron  and Mary Kay. Within a year we were attending a couple’s Sunday school class taught by Robert Wike and slowly developing strong relationships in the class. We were exposed to Biblical principles which had previously escaped us because we had not been searching for them. We became so active in the class by 1975 Robert asked me to co-teach the class. I began studying the Bible in earnest and utilizing the awakening skills of teaching God had given me. It was definitely a growing process because in the beginning I was a mediocre teacher at best.

As a result of a number of events and circumstances Cathy and I attended a Bill Gothard seminar in Dallas, Texas in August, 1977 where we were transformed. For the first time the gospel promises became personal, and we were changed by the saving power of the Lord Jesus.

Dr. Harbuck continued as pastor of First Baptist until June,1983 when he resigned to become pastor of the First Baptist Church of Chattanooga, Tennessee. I was fortunate to have been on the Pastor Search Committee, and the church eventually called Dr. Mark Coppenger as pastor in December, 1983. He had never pastored a church and had only recently graduated from seminary, but his giftedness and zeal for the Lord confirmed he was God’s man for our church at this time. Over the next five years the church took a new direction in theology and ministry under Dr. Coppenger’s leadership, and I believe we became the leading church in the area. There was a new emphasis on soul-winning, discipleship, local and overseas missions, and the church grew both numerically and spiritually. It was an exciting and vibrant church in which to serve.

In the spring of 1987 Dr. Coppenger announced he had scheduled a four day church-wide revival in August with Kelly Green, an evangelist from Mobile, Alabama. I had never heard of him and initially thought with the name “Kelly Green,” he must surely have some other gimmicks to accompany his unusual name. My attitude toward him changed when he scheduled a decision counsellor training session one month prior to the revival.

Our church began planning and praying well in advance of the August start date. Sixty-six people met at the church for a two day training session. We used the Billy Graham Christian Life and Witnessing Course taught by two men from Oklahoma who were on Kelly’s board. In addition cottage prayer meetings were scheduled and attended by one hundred and eighty-five members. One week prior to the revival home visits were made to personally invite people to attend. We were told by the revival team to expect two to three public decisions for every counsellor trained prior to the revival. I was skeptical of those statistics, although to my knowledge there had never been such extensive preparation prior to any revival.

The revival team included Kelly Green and his youth associate, Todd Roberts along with gifted musicians, Mike and Faye Speck. From the outset on Sunday morning there was an unusual sense of expectation and brokenness. Responding to altar call invitations at the close of each service were at least thirty to forty people. The decisions ranged from salvation, to re-dedication, to request for special prayer for reconciliation over broken relationships.

At the Tuesday evening meeting Kelly announced he sensed a special presence of the power of the Holy Spirit and was not going to preach. He quoted John 3:16 and invited all who were convicted to come to the altar. There were more than fifty public decisions this one evening and Kelly decided to extend the revival two more days. By the close of the meeting on Friday there were one hundred and ninety-eight people who had made decisions to follow Christ.

I had never before or since been part of such a revival. There were some members who attended and said what occurred was emotionalism and not a true moving of the Holy Spirit. The proof of any spiritual transformation is demonstrated by what the people are like going forward. I can name at least twenty people who are now walking with God as a direct result of what took place at that revival meeting many years ago. I am grateful God allowed Cathy and me to be there to experience the miraculous and see the invisible. God confirms in His Word “the things which are seen are temporal while the things which are not seen are eternal.” (II Cor. 4:18)

Dr. John

PS: As an outward sign of revival our church gave the largest love offering ever received up to then by both Kelly and the Specks. In the 1980’s an evangelist could expect an offering of $3000 – $4000 and the musicians an offering of $1000 -$2000. The offering to Kelly for our meeting was $19,000 and offering to the Specks was $12,000! To God be the glory!