94 and ready for the next dance

Edward Moore and instructor Krystal Mendez prepare to boogie at LaPierre Ballroom Dance Studio in Glassboro. Left, dancing with Moore's wife, Marie, is studio owner Gene LaPierre. At center are instructor Jonathan Cabrera, student Alex Landen.
Edward Moore and instructor Krystal Mendez prepare to boogie at LaPierre Ballroom Dance Studio in Glassboro. Left, dancing with Moore's wife, Marie, is studio owner Gene LaPierre. At center are instructor Jonathan Cabrera, student Alex Landen. (TOM GRALISH / Staff Photographer)
Posted: August 14, 2012

Edward Moore was visiting Bermuda when he saw a girl windsurfing. It looked like fun, so he took a lesson and began windsurfing himself. He was 60 at the time. One of his treasured possessions is a photograph of himself windsurfing on the Delaware River. When the photo was taken, he was 76, and he has continued to enjoy the sport since then.

In September, Moore, who lives in Woodbury, will turn 95. Three years ago, he underwent surgery for a total replacement of his right knee. His motivation: He wanted to continue living a full and active life, including windsurfing and dancing.

Moore is a tall man with a lean body and a flat abdomen. He is a model of what a fit man in his mid-90s can look like. He attributes his longevity to "good eating and lots of butter." About four years ago, as he was rising from the kitchen table, he felt a twinge in his right knee, "like something slipped."

He visited a local osteopath for some pain-relieving shots, but they didn't help. So he scheduled an appointment with orthopedic surgeon Dick Rothman of the Rothman Institute at Thomas Jefferson University Hospital.

Rothman, who has replaced knees and hips in about a half dozen patients in their 90s, decided Moore was an ideal candidate.

"He's probably the most robust of the 90-year-olds I've done," Rothman says. "You have to be reasonably fit and mentally alert. Ed is a guy who loves life and is very active, and his genetic body clock has moved slowly. He's an unusual example of what we can offer an older person in good health and good spirits."

Moore was out of the hospital in four days, and after a month of physical therapy, able to resume his normal activities.

He calls his new artificial knee "perfect, no twinges or anything."

"It was a good move," he elaborates. "I figured I'd be in pain and handicapped for the rest of my life if I didn't have it done, and I didn't want to go through that."

Although his house is equipped with a chairlift, he doesn't use it.

"I try to walk up and down the stairs; it's good exercise for the knees," he says.

He visits the gym occasionally but he views exercise strictly as a means to an end, and the end is continuing to enjoy the pastimes he loves. Lately, he has been having difficulty standing up on the board when he windsurfs, so he may have to quit, he says ruefully. But he plans to keep dancing.

Growing up in Brooklyn, Moore participated in a variety of sports, including golf, swimming, fencing, downhill skiing, and such track and field events as high jumping and pole vaulting. He describes himself as "mildly athletic but never outstanding." In early adulthood, he stood 6-foot-5 and weighed 165 pounds. He was a walking tomato stake. After he got married, he filled out and gained 30 pounds.

His work took him to many parts of the country: New Jersey, western Pennsylvania, Maryland, and Utah. For 38 years he toiled as a chemist for Mobil Oil in Paulsboro, from which he retired at age 67. His progeny include six children, six grandchildren, and three great-grandchildren. After his first wife died suddenly of a heart problem, he remarried in 1984. He and his second wife, Marie, have what he calls "a delightful marriage."

Moore has been dancing since he was 15. As a young man in his 20s, he often danced for recreation. At a party, he remembers meeting one particular partner who resembled "a poor man's Liz Taylor," and who flattered him by assuring him that, were they unattached, they could have become a successful professional dance team.

Last fall, Moore contacted Shirley Bierbrunner, executive director of the Greater Woodbury Chamber of Commerce, and asked if he could participate in this year's "Dancing With the Gloucester County Stars." The popular event, now in its seventh year, teams local residents with professional dancers. So far, it has raised more than $930,000 for local charities, and Bierbrunner hopes this year the total will surpass $1 million. Bierbrunner took the matter to the event committee, which decided to invite Moore to participate as an exhibitor or demonstrator.

"Wouldn't it be fun to see someone like Ed out on the dance floor proving that you're never too old?" Bierbrunner says.

The event takes place Tuesday and Wednesday at Auletto Caterers in Almonesson. The shows will be taped and shown on the local cable channel for the next four weeks. At the finale on Sept. 20, prizes will be awarded to the best dancers and those who raised the most for their particular charity.

Moore is scheduled to perform one dance both Tuesday and Wednesday, showing his moves in the foxtrot and rumba. "He's all excited about this thing," Bierbrunner says. "He's all geared up to go."

For the last month, he has been practicing with Krystal Mendez, 24, an instructor at LaPierre Ballroom Dance Studio in Glassboro.

"He's picking it up very fast, adding to his original style," Mendez says. "He already knew how to ballroom dance, so we're just working on things like the grapevine, his promenade, and various turns. He's a natural, definitely, and very easy to teach. I think it's an amazing thing, how much pep he has."

For his part, Moore describes Mendez as a Jennifer Lopez look-alike. In other words, he still notices, and can appreciate, a comely lass. Dancing is beneficial for the brain, and Moore keeps his wits even sharper by playing bridge. "I'm still having fun and enjoying life," he declares.


For video of 94-year-old

ballroom dancer Edward Moore, go to www.philly.com/dancer


"Well Being" appears every other week, alternating with Sandy Bauers' "GreenSpace" column. Contact Art Carey at art.carey@philly.com. Read his recent columns at www.philly.com/wellbeing.

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