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Sun-Times journalist broke ground, covered society to business

PatriciG. Moore

Patricia G. Moore

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Updated: August 17, 2012 6:50AM

Journalist Patricia Moore could write about anything, from a society birthday party for a Swift or Armour, to a complicated corporate bankruptcy.

In a career that spanned more than 40 years at the Chicago Sun-Times and the Chicago Daily News, she showed countless young reporters how to navigate a newsroom.

Sometimes, she let loose with a throaty laugh and a subtly sassy wisecrack that reminded people of actress Barbara Stanwyck.

One of her many friends said no obituary would be complete without mention of her Mistinguett legs. “All the women at the Daily News, and the Sun-Times later, said she had the best legs on the staff,” said two-time Pulitzer prizewinner Lois Wille, former editorial page editor of the Sun-Times, Daily News and the Chicago Tribune. “She would want that in her obit.”

Ms. Moore, who had Alzheimer’s, died July 6 at her Lincoln Park home.

She grew up on the North Shore and attended Saints Faith, Hope & Charity grade school in Winnetka, Academy of the Sacred Heart high school in Lake Forest, and St. Mary’s College in Notre Dame, Ind.

Writing was in her genes.

Her father, Bill Moore, co-authored a classic 1930s radio serial about a daredevil teen pilot, “The Air Adventures of Jimmy Allen.” He died young, and her mother, Mary, became the sole breadwinner. She wrote cookbooks and headed a baking institute.

After a stint at Lerner’s Lake View Booster newspaper, Ms. Moore joined the Daily News in the early 1950s. There, she eventually became the Society Editor, back when that meant covering bluebloods and great fortunes. She stayed until the paper folded in 1978, moving on to the Sun-Times, where she worked until the mid-1990s as a real estate writer and business reporter.

“She knew all of those people, like the Smiths and Armours,” said Barbara Varro, former fashion editor and feature writer for the Sun-Times. “Pat covered all of those grande dames, all the dowagers.”

“She had to deal with the upper crust, but she never took them very seriously, to her credit,” said former Sun-Times reporter Harlan Draeger.

At the Daily News, she covered a tour of Lambs Farm by first lady Betty Ford; Princess Grace of Monaco’s visit to the Chicago discotheque Zorine’s, and the filming of Robert Altman’s “A Wedding,” at a Lake Bluff estate of the Armour meatpacking clan.

Ms. Moore “was down-to-earth and knew how to laugh at herself and others,” said former Daily News writer Karen Petitte. “There weren’t a lot of women reporters in those days, so she served as a major role model.”

“She was a real pioneer and a real feminist, just by her mere presence,” said former Sun-Times staffer Susy Schultz.

“She had a certain Barbara Stanwyck-ism,” said Abe Peck, a professor emeritus at Northwestern University and a former reporter for the Sun-Times and Daily News. “She had a very wry sense of humor that I think had gotten her through a lot of stuff at newspapers when women were second-class citizens.”

Sandy Pesmen, another Daily News alum, recalled how Ms. Moore once artfully skewered a social climber with the comment: “He’d go to the opening of a door.”

She was a devoted friend. “If somebody was sick, Pat would be the first to visit in the hospital, or send flowers,” Wille said. “If somebody’s parent died, Pat would be at the funeral.”

She bought a two-flat in Lincoln Park and did the handiwork herself. Wille remembers phoning her and not getting an answer. Later, Ms. Moore told her: “I was up on the roof, making some repairs.”

She loved going to plays. When her friend, critic Richard Christiansen, wrote, A Theater of Our Own: a History and a Memoir of 1,001 Nights in Chicago, Wille said, “he borrowed a lot of Pat’s Playbills.”

An expert skier, she was flying over moguls in Aspen, Vail and Park City, Utah, well into her 70s.

Ms. Moore made mouthwatering paella, lamb and turkey. She treated her nieces and nephews to Yorkshire Pudding during holiday dinners at her house.

She is survived by her brother, Eric Moore, and nieces and nephews. A memorial gathering has been held.

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