Construction worker leaves heart at N.C Central

Arthur Moore, a retired construction worker and Durham native, left his heart at the Shepard Memorial Library in the early 1970s.

Arthur at home. (Staff photo by Jasmine Holeman)

Arthur Moore at home. (Staff photo by Jasmine Holeman)

“Although what is now called N.C Central came into existence in 1910, no formal library existed for a number of years,” said Moore who is 76 years old. “Students were forced to purchase all books they needed for their education on their own. In 1950 the first library was constructed, James E. Shepard Memorial Library.”

Moore was one of the many workers that built the Shepard Library. Moore followed his father’s footsteps in construction. His father worked as a brick mason, and died when Moore was very young.

“He was in a huge accident with three or four guys on the job,” Moore said. “The building collapsed. He died a few years after the accident. He just never recovered.”

Moore was raised by his mother and his grandma. He attended Hillside High School. After high school he joined the Armed Forces, and served in Alaska in the Air force.

After he left the Air force he began to move around from different jobs for about two years. He found a job with a roofing company, where he spent six years.

“I got burnt often, it used to be too dangerous,” said Moore.

This wouldn’t be the only time Moore would be hurt on the job.

About 10 years later, Moore landed his dream job at L.A. Downey and Son, Inc., a company that helped build the Shepard Memorial Library.

“It was very hot, but I mean it was work,” Moore said, as he described the construction site. “I loved to do it. Hearing all the noises of the hammering and the sawing made my day even better.”

Moore and his crew had really long days that turned into routine.

“I used to work, work, work, grab my lunch sit under the big shady tree, and eat really fast, and get back to work, then head home,” said Moore, who spent more than 30 years with the company.

One day his routine was interrupted.

“I was moving a piece of wood; with one of the workers, and then I felt a sharp pain in my chest,” Moore said. “I dropped the wood and grabbed by chest. Everyone was working really hard until I fell.”

Mr. Moore can still cut the rug. (Staff photo by Jasmine Holeman)

Mr. Moore can still cut the rug. (Staff photo by Jasmine Holeman)

Moore suffered a heart attack, and was told that he should do something a little easier than construction work, something better for the heart.

But after recovering, Moore returned to L.A Downey for work. He was given smaller and easier tasks, but he never got assigned another construction job again.

Later, he retired in 2007.

Moore still travels to NCCU’s campus to sit outside the library to reminisce and enjoy nature.

“That same tree I used to sit under is still standing too,” he said. “I just enjoy watching nature take its course, season to season.”

Since retirement Moore has been relaxing and enjoying life at his home in East Durham.

“Ever since I moved a few houses down from Mr. Moore, I’ve seen him outside his house planting and working on outdoor chores, everyday,” said his neighbor, Charnetta Tanner.

Moore misses working and building, and spends his spare time gardening, listening to music, and dancing.

“I can still dance, but I don’t because I’m a high risk dancer,” he said. “I used to break the floor down with my moves.”

Jasmine is a staff writer-photographer for the Durham VOICE and a student at N.C. Central University.