Mount Airy legend Terry Moore passes

Terry Moore, right, poses with brother Joe Ray, left, and nephew Anthony following one of Anthony’s middle school basketball games in 1992.

Submitted Photo

The Granite Bear community recently lost an all-time great athlete and person as Terry “T-Bone” Moore answered the call to his eternal home on Aug. 7.

Three generations of Mount Airy football fans are familiar with the Moore family; with origins dating back to the early 1970s. Terry, a 1981 graduate of Mount Airy High School, helped set the bar of his family’s incredible legacy both on and off the football field at the school.

“My Uncle Terry inspired me in many aspects of my life, from his strong work ethic, respect for others, the respect he received, accountability and the passion my family shares for athletics, particularly football,” said Anthony Moore, Terry’s nephew.

Anthony grew up hearing crazy football stories from his father, Joe Ray, and Uncle Terry. The Moore family has revisited numerous such stories during this difficult time.

“As a family, we will never get over the loss of my Uncle Terry,” Anthony said. “We hope to gain strength from one another and learn live with it, embracing the memories we share.”

Terry was the youngest of three sons born to the late Joe T. and Lois C. Moore. Both Terry and Joe Ray, his oldest brother, experienced tremendous success in football and went on to play collegiately. Jerry, the Moore’s middle brother, did not participate in the sport.

Joe Ray played three years of varsity football for Mount Airy from 1972-74. At the time, ninth grade was part of junior high, so a 10th-grader playing on the varsity team was a rarity.

Joe Ray competed under the instruction of the late Jerry Hollingworth, who has the second-most wins of any coach in the school’s near-100 season history. Those teams went a combined 25-8. After graduating from Mount Airy as the all-time leading rusher in 1975, Joe Ray continued his football career at Western Carolina University.

During the three years following Joe Ray’s departure from Mount Airy, the Bears went 13-16-1. That all changed when Terry’s class moved up to the high school in 1978.

“He’s one of those players that, back in the day, never played a minute of JV,” said Tommy Morrison, a fellow 1981 Mount Airy grad. “Terry was just that kind of athlete. He could play anywhere you put him; he was that good.”

Mount Airy’s nine wins in 1978 were the team’s most since Joe Ray’s first year. Terry helped the Bears to a three-year record of 29-4 that included two playoff appearances. Only the conference champion made the playoffs and, despite being a small school, the Bears competed in the Northwest 3A Conference.

Terry primarily served as a wide receiver and defensive back while also handling punting duties. He moved to fullback as a senior at the request of Hollingsworth.

Terry earned a scholarship to play football at Appalachian State University after high school. He later transferred to Winston-Salem State University.

Even after his athletic career ended, Terry remained a popular figure in the community and supported his family as they lived up to the gold standard expected of a Moore.

“Terry not having children of his own, and me being his only nephew, he was the combination of a big brother and second father figure to me. He offered all his attention as a mentor,” Anthony said.

Anthony recalls Terry and his father, Joe Ray, always taking time to share their knowledge of the game with him. Terry was always there to remind Anthony of the importance of hard work outside of scheduled practices in order to set himself apart.

“I remember back in my little league days, feeling discouraged due to being the small kid on the squad,” Anthony said. “Terry was always there to offer support while building my confidence.”

“As I entered high school, Terry would share stories with me about what Dad, as a running back, was able to accomplish as a Granite Bear. He constantly reminded me that if I worked hard and stuck to it, I had the potential to surpass Dad’s impact on the Granite Bear football program.”

Joe Ray’s rushing record stood for two decades before finally being broken by his son. Anthony racked up 5,803 career yards rushing from 1993-1996. This was the 10th-most career yards rushing in state history when Anthony graduated and is currently 36th on the list.

His 2,625 yards rushing in 1996 ranked No. 6 in N.C. history when Anthony graduated and is now 51st. That same 1996 season saw Anthony carry the ball 384 times, which led the state at the time and is now 11th all-time.

Joe Ray’s career rushing total remained in second in school history for 23 years and was just surpassed by Johnathon Smith in 2019.

“Without the outstanding support from many in my life, especially Uncle Terry, it’s hard to imagine reaching many of those accomplishments,” Anthony said. “Throughout all those years, I could always look to the stands and easily find Terry alongside other family members in the crowd. Believe it or not, I could hear his voice over the entire crowd many times. The support was amazing.”

Anthony followed in his father and uncle’s footsteps by playing college football, earning a scholarship to James Madison University.

“I remember days before leaving for college, Uncle Terry surprised me with a brand new ‘top of the line,’ bike, saying ‘this gift will ensure you always make it to class on time nephew.’”

Terry’s unwavering support of his nephew continued as he attended every JMU home game during Anthony’s tenure. Unfortunately, an injury cut Anthony’s time in college short, an event he recalled as devastating.

“During that difficult time, my Uncle Terry was one of many that helped give me the strength I needed to let go of the game that I loved so much,” Anthony said. “Uncle Terry reminded me that every athlete will see this day; the end is not easy. ‘Yours is just a bit earlier than you wanted.’

“He went on to tell me, ‘It’s time to move forward with life and you’ll find much more successes. Keep your head up nephew.’”

It was another 20 years before the next Moore joined the Granite Bear football program. That privilege went to Anthony’s son, Cameron, who is currently a senior at Mount Airy.

Like with Anthony, Terry was one of Cameron’s biggest fans. Terry attended all of his great-nephew’s games and worked with him outside of practice.

“Not only did my Uncle Terry have a major impact on my life, he was also a big part of my son Cameron’s life; offering the same support level and guidance that I greatly valued,” Anthony said. “Cam, like all in our family, was devastated by the untimely loss of Terry.”

Cam served as a back-up running back to Smith during his historic season. He also played linebacker for the Bears.

“Terry was greatly anticipating Cam’s senior campaign at running back,” Anthony said. “Cam is dedicating his senior year in honor of the life and memory of Uncle Terry. Dedication to hard work in the classroom, personal growth as a young man and giving 100% to his team and coaches.”

Reach Cory on Twitter @MrCoryLeeSmith