Young at heart

Nichole Gottfred, 4, gives Glen ‘Grandpa’ Moore a birthday hug last Friday. Moore, a volunteer with the Sylvan Way preschool turned 99 on Feb. 9.   - Photo by Tracey Cooper
Nichole Gottfred, 4, gives Glen ‘Grandpa’ Moore a birthday hug last Friday. Moore, a volunteer with the Sylvan Way preschool turned 99 on Feb. 9.
— image credit: Photo by Tracey Cooper

Just like every Friday for the past six years, Glen “Grandpa” Moore arrived Feb. 3 in the Sylvan Way Christian School parking lot where a crowd of beaming faces greeted him. As far as his fans were concerned, his ride was a chauffeured limo rather than an Access bus.

The preschoolers waited as patiently as any 4 and 5 year olds could as Grandpa Moore descended from the bus lift and, braced by his walker, shuffled slowly into the classroom.

But this wasn’t a typical Friday.

“We have cupcakes,” one of the preschoolers yelled spilling the birthday beans.

When you’ve had as many birthdays Moore has had surprises are hard to come by. He turned 99 on Feb. 9.

Despite the milestone, Moore kept to his routine: Read a Bible story or two from the comfort of the big blue chair, sing a few songs and accept as many hugs as the children can dish out.

“I enjoy coming here every week. The children are so receptive,” Moore said.

Moore’s daughter Rhoda Gage, who attended the festivities, said he was a little intimidated by the children at first. It took a few weeks for him to come out of his shell, but ever since then he’s been delighting the children.

In addition to reading stories from The Moody Bible Story Book, Moore recalls adventures from his youth in Franklin County, Mo. and later in Mount Vernon.

He wasn’t much older than the children he reads to when in 1912 he and his six brothers and sisters, parents and several other families boarded a train to go West.

He grew up in Mount Vernon and during his career would work in coal mines, as a carpenter, mill worker and a school custodian. He also had strong ties to the church and would find himself at the pastor’s pulpit on more than one occasion.

He married Helen McMaster in June 1940 and they had two children. Moore graduated from the Moody Bible Institute in 1946 and in 1947 went to Roche Harbor in the San Juan Islands to start a short-lived church. The family would eventually move to Everett and in 1977 Helen and Moore moved to Bremerton to be closer to their grandchildren. In 1999 he became a widower and in 2001 moved to Crista Shores retirement home in Central Kitsap. He attends Lincoln Avenue Bible Church in Bremerton.

The children at the preschool presented Moore with a large, handprint mottled birthday card, balloons and a chocolate cupcake with a lit candle. They sang “Happy Birthday” and then a few students gave their adopted grandpa a hug.

Moore typically spends about 45 minutes with the children before the bus returns to take him home. “Grandpa loves you,” he tells the children.

His departure mirrors his arrival. The children wave as he ascends on the lift. Next Friday can’t come soon enough.

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