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John Moran

John F. Moran

February 26, 1932 - August 12, 2019
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Obituary

John F. Moran
February 26, 1932-August 12, 2019

John “Jack” “Old” “Grampa” F. Moran died peacefully where he loved to be, center stage--surrounded by his children, grandchildren, and holding his sweetheart’s hand. No stranger to the spotlight and telling a great tale, Jack made his last story one for the “picture shows.” As in all of his life, there was music playing. First, his hit single “Skip-a-Rope”, followed by “MacArthur Park”--a favorite that he and his beloved Joan listened to every morning. After the last notes faded away, with every hand in the room holding him, Jack gave one last squeeze to Joan’s and slid on to the next tale.

In an effort to simplify the setting, Jack died in his hometown of Scranton, Pennsylvania a few miles from the home where he was born, after a brief unexpected illness. If you do the straight math, Jack was 87 when he passed away. However, when you factor in that his brain and heart were about 25, he comes in at just a little over 60. This would sound about right to anyone who knew him.

Jack was born John Francis Moran, but everyone quickly began calling him “Jack” as there were too many “Johns” in the neighborhood. Due to an injury at birth, Jack went completely blind in one eye at the age of 3 and in the other eye at 14. Despite his handicap, Jack excelled at school, even pioneering a program in the local public school for low vision students taught by Jack’s favorite teacher, Miss Helen Smith. Despite his diminishing vision, Jack joined his cousins in plenty of neighborhood mischief. Jack was a member of the National Honor Society, editor of his high school yearbook, and valedictorian of his 1950 Scranton Tech High School class of just under 500 students.

Jack went on to college at the University of Scranton before moving on to Penn State University in 1953. At Penn State, Jack was a member of the Men’s Glee Club, ATO, and Phi Beta Kappa, but he was perhaps most notable for walking the campus led by his faithful seeing eye dog, Ike. Jack graduated with honors, receiving a BA in 1956 and a Masters degree in Counseling in 1961. Although Jack graduated from Penn State, his heart never left it. He found ways to listen to just about every Penn State sporting event. Each Christmas Jack would unwrap at least three gifts stamped with his alma mater’s logo.

Throughout his life, Jack worked in a number of jobs, championing the civil rights of and counseling those with disabilities. Jack was employed by the Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission, New Jersey Commission for the Blind, NCCJ, and the Maine Department of Human Services. With Jack’s charm, humor, and intelligence, he was bound to do well at any job, and through the years many people would say Jack’s work and counseling helped them greatly. However, his true calling was writing songs and performing them on stage.

Jack began his entertainment career at the age of seven when he stepped on stage at his mother’s Welsh Baptist Church to sing his first solo. Once the world had experienced this handsome blind boy singing with what, by all accounts, was an “angel’s voice,” the die was cast. After that, seldom was there a wedding, party, or funeral where Jack wasn’t asked to perform. Though his guitar chords were catchy and his voice was superb, his real talent lay in songwriting.

Jack was fortunate to marry Joyce Torrey, a vital intelligent woman, who supported his music endeavours. After their marriage in 1963, and the birth of their first two children--Allison in 1965 and John in 1966--Joyce agreed to leave their home in Harrisburg, PA and move to the Bible Belt of Nashville, TN to make a go of it in the home of country music. Months before, Jack had headed down to play his ten song demo for studios. He was discovered at the Tally Ho Tavern when Glenn Tubb heard him play his original, “Skip a Rope.” With the help of Tubb, Jack found success in Nashville--quickly being signed as a staff writer for Tree Music Publishing. Their daughter, Linda, would be born in Nashville in 1969, after the family had settled on the outskirts in Mt. Juliet, Tennessee. Although Jack published is own album, As I See It, in 1970 (the album notes of which were Grammy nominated), his greatest hit was 1968s “Skip-a-Rope” performed by Henson Cargill and co-written with Tubb.

The Grammy nominated “Skip-a-Rope” topped the Billboard 1968 country charts at number one for 5 weeks, by far the longest of any song that year, and climbed up to 25 on the Hot 100 Billboard charts (unheard of at the time for a Nashville song). “Skip-a-Rope” was ultimately nominated for a Grammy as 1968s country song of the year, and it skyrocketed Henson Cargill to a Grammy nod for best Country male performance, which he lost to Johnny Cash. The day before his death, Jack’s grandson asked him what was his happiest moment in life. Without hesitation, Jack responded that it was standing on the stage of the Grand Ole Opry, receiving a Billboard award for “Skip-a-Rope.” Although his hit would go on to receive a CMA song of the year nomination, as well as the Grammy nomination, and to win multiple awards--this was the moment where Jack felt the spotlight on his greatest artistic achievement.

“Skip-a-Rope” would eventually be recorded by nearly 100 artists, including Conway Twitty, Jimmy Dean, Patti Page, The Brothers Four, the Kentucky Headhunters, and the “possum” himself George Jones. This colossal hit was considered to be quite socially controversial. Jack later credited his wife, Joyce, for encouraging his change to a writing style more reflective of who Jack was as a person and his work experiences in Civil Rights.

During his music career, Jack had over 200 songs under contract, with over 30 being recorded by notable performers of the day. Jack Reno hit number 22 on the country charts with “We All Go Crazy. Hylo Brown recorded two of his songs, “Danged if I Do” and “God Help the Man.” “Move Over Old Man” was picked up by Jack Barlow. Grand Ole Opry star Marion Worth tackled Jack’s “Sock it to Him Sister Nell”, and Glenn’s uncle Ernest Tubb recorded the tear jerker, “Tommy’s Doll.” Jack’s song “None of My Business” hit the top ten country charts with Henson Cargill at the helm again. But for Jack, nothing could surpass hearing his idol Eddie Arnold record his song, “I Love You Dear.” Jack continued to write songs throughout his life, writing hundreds more songs after his contracts with Tree and ASCAP had expired. Jack’s album, As I See It, was remastered and re-released in 2016.

Jack’s most famous performances with his children, however, were the times he performed at their school and Girl Scout functions, singing “Chicken Truck Driver” and his sure to get a giggle “I Want a Cookie!” Jack memorably wrote his daugher Allison’s 6th grade graduation song, “Six Years Ago” which he subsequently performed at John and Linda’s graduations. Much to Jack’s chagrin, the children’s all time favorite was his legendary rowdy imitation of Elvis’s “You Ain’t Nothing but a Hound Dog!”

Every summer, Jack and his family would travel back to his wife’s hometown of Union, Maine. Beginning in 1978, they rented a cottage on Lermond Pond, where Jack could quietly reminisce about his youthful days spent fishing and swimming on Pennsylvania lakes. Just about every evening, Jack and Joyce could be found happily fishing the lakes free of pickerel and white perch until the bats began to swoop, and it was time to come in and play a game of 83 with Jack’s Braille playing cards. He was slow to name a suit but always quick to win. In 1983, Maine’s siren song finally became too strong and Jack and his family opted to not leave its cool waters for the heat and humidity of Tennessee again.

Jack was often found sitting by the lake, smoking a cigar, listening for loons, and returning the crow’s calls with a loud, “Hello, Don!” If Joyce or his children were not available to call out “to the left, to the right” as he went for his daily swims, Jack would place a loud beeping device designed for the blind on the dock and swim in circles. Each year, Jack and Joyce would swim across the lake at the end of the season--quite possibly rendering Jack eligible for the Guiness Book of Records for farthest swim by the doggie paddle “stroke.”

Jack’s favorite career began in 1990, when his sweet granddaughter Sarah was born, and “Grampa’s” daycare opened. Jack was an indulgent and loving grandfather to all his grandchildren, always willing to hold a baby, play on the floor, and sneak treats.

As Joyce’s mobility and health declined, Jack became a faithful caregiver in an effort to keep her at home as long as possible. In her final years, Jack was her daily companion at whatever nursing home or hospital she was in, telling stories and eating ice cream.

After Joyce’s passing in 2008, Jack became more involved in the many clubs that he belonged to--the Lion’s Club, AA, and the unofficial “Old Man’s Breakfast Club.” In his late 70s and 80s, Jack’s social life was more active than ever. He was a favorite amongst these groups for his sense of humor, willingness to tell a good story, and certainly to perform a song or three on his guitar. With his daughters living down the road, and his granddaughters sometimes living at his house with him, Jack had no problem living independently as he was blessed with good health and a sharp mind.

In 2014, after a 60 year separation, Jack reconnected with his former Scranton neighbor, and first love--Joan Davis of Tunkhannock, Pennsylvania. Their 7-8 hours a day phone courtship soon turned to Jack braving flying the friendly skies, even when it meant being wheeled from the plane by a skycap because they did not believe a blind 82 year old man could walk. Though his Maine family missed him dearly when he was in Pennsylvania, they were grateful for the loving care bestowed upon him by Joan and her family. Jack’s last years spent devotedly with his darling Joan were arguably the happiest of his life. They were always sure to be holding hands, singing songs, and reminiscing about their youth in Scranton together. Jack was also a church elder and regular soloist at the Presbyterian Church of Tunkhannock. In the final chapter of his life, Jack got his happy ending.

Jack loved his families, a good debate, a strong cup of coffee, and just about any dessert. He balanced that out by working out in Tunkhannock’s local gym three days a week, shocking the manager by his strength. His strongest muscle remained his brain which, along with his beautiful voice, remained gloriously intact. Jack proved every day that age is only a number as he lived life to the fullest, despite the limitation of sight. He had a sharp intellect, a big heart, and copious charm which he shared generously with everyone. Whether you called him Jack, Old, Grampa, or Old Grampa, everyone is sure to miss him and his powerful voice that dominated every phone call and room.

From a previous marriage, Jack was predeceased by his son, David Moran and two grandsons. From this marriage, Jack is survived by his daughter, Susan Weiss and her husband, Kevin Weiss, of Severna Park, Maryland; Chris Moran of Atlanta, Georgia and eight grandchildren.

Jack is also survived by his beloved Joan; his daughter, Allison Davis and her husband, Mark, of Hope, Maine; his son John Moran and his wife, Sarah, of Dalian, China; his daughter, Linda and her husband, Dieter Weber of Hope, Maine; his beloved grandchildren, Sarah Schneider and husband Mike, Leah Davis, Gwenyvere Sewall, Fiona Sewall, Shea Sewall, Henry Moran, Emily Moran, and Nolan Moran; his “PA family,” Anne Godfrey-Wilson, Becky Davis, Harry Woodrow, Gladys and Pat Bernet; Nieces Alane Starko, Diane Jordan; Nephews—Bruce, Mark, and Bob Jordan; cherished friends; Mark Lincoln, Larry Bird, Lou Cook, Alvin Goodman, and Richard Mercner. He will be missed by many other friends and family in both Maine and Pennsylvania.

Jack was predeceased by his parents Francis Moran and Gwen Simon Moran, his sister Gloria Jordan, and wife of 45 years, Joyce Moran.

Jack’s funeral services and life celebration were held on August 17, 2019.

Donations in Jack’s name can be made to Maine Children’s Cancer Program, 100 Campus Drive, Unit 107, Scarborough, ME 04074, in honor of his granddaughter, Sarah Schneider.
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Service Details

  • Visitation

    Friday August 16, 2019 | 5:00pm - 7:00pm
    When
    Friday August 16, 2019 5:00pm - 7:00pm
    Location
    Burpee, Carpenter & Hutchins Funeral Home
    Address
    110 Limerock Street
    Rockland, Maine 04841
    Get Directions: View Map | Text | Email
  • Mass of Christian Burial

    Saturday August 17, 2019 | 12:00pm
    When
    Saturday August 17, 2019 12:00pm
    Location
    Our Lady of Good Hope Catholic Church
    Address
    Seven Union Street
    CAMDEN, ME 04843
    Get Directions: View Map | Text | Email
    Officiant
    Father Fornkwa Ndifon Hyacinth
  • Interment

    Location
    East Union Cemetery
    Address
    Miller Road
    East Union, ME 04862
    Get Directions: View Map | Text | Email
  • Reception

    Saturday August 17, 2019 |
    When
    Saturday August 17, 2019
    Location
    Mic Mac Campground Lodge
    Address
    210 Mic Mac Lane
    Union, Maine 04862
    Get Directions: View Map | Text | Email
    Following the cemetery interment service

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Private Condolence
CP

Cindy Brooks Prock

Posted at 12:53pm
Uncle Jack leaves behind two sisters-in-law: Margaret Giostra, Joyce’s sister, of Minnetonka MN; and Mildred Brooks of East Union, widow of Pete Brooks, Joyce’s brother; and three Giostra and 6 Brooks nieces and nephews and their families. Jack spoke and sang at Pete’s memorial service at the Brooks family’s request; his eloquence and music was deeply appreciated. Uncle Jack was a wonderful conversationalist and for all his intelligence and intellect, he never talked down to us, or at us, even when we were kids. He was one of the people in my life I wish I’d had a chance to know better. Nonetheless, he has always been in my heart and prayers and there he will remain... with those who have passed before me and with my family and friends who are still here. I can hear Dad, Aunt Joyce , Grammie Torrey, Uncle George and Uncle Jack haw-hawing together and I look forward to joining in with them when it’s time. Meanwhile, cheers to the memories, Cousins Allison, John and Linda, and your beautiful families. Thank you for the wonderful day of remembrance. I’m so glad I could be there with you all. Xo’s ~Cindy Brooks Prock
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