Moore, Donald "Sarge" - When reading this, it is very important than you picture someone talking with exaggerated expressions, their hands waving all around, and the occasional f-bomb dropped in as an adjective. That’s how he would have wanted it.
Donald Allan Shadrach Moore didn’t even know his own real name. No wonder… he is much better known as Sarge or Gramps.
Born on July 23, 1939, in Woodstock, New Brunswick, Sarge was a paradox in human form. He was equally strong and soft.
Maybe this was because his formative years were heavily influenced by the Great Depression. At least that’s why we think he was a hoarder at heart who collected everything from coins to hockey cards.
His mum, Theresa, was a fiercely loyal firecracker. She instilled in Sarge and his two younger siblings, Raymond and Terri, the importance of being generous, fair, and respectful.
But times were tough. So, to help support the family, Sarge would go straight from school to work in the evenings. Then, at only 17, he felt a call to serve his country and enlisted in the Royal Canadian Airforce.
It was the very beginning of what would be 37 years of service. Boy, he was brave. Sarge was awarded medals, but these all came at a cost. Nightmares. Tears. Flashbacks. Back then, they were told to suck it up. But now we have a name for it… PTSD.
Because of this, you wouldn’t find Sarge telling many stories about those days. Sometimes you’d hear silly ones of briefcases full of beer or highly orchestrated pranks. But most of the time he tried to keep this trauma bottled up neatly in a memory box in his mind.
Usually, his stories were about his friends and family. That’s what he cared about most.
Sarge took his role of big brother to Raymond and Terri very seriously. He could tease them… but no one else could.
In fact, up until two weeks ago he was still tormenting his sister’s husband, Paul, by sneakily moving around a blind man’s drink. He even took in Raymond when he ran away from home, and they went on a cross-Canada journey together.
When Sarge became a father, he broke the mould. He fearlessly stepped forward as a single dad, in a time when that was very uncommon, and gave them a magical childhood. Sarge would do anything for his kids, even running across freshly tarred roads, to protect them.
Sarge filled their hearts with adventure and their heads full of music. Most of the time it was the same song on repeat. You’d think when you hear the same song over and over again that you’d learn the lyrics… but Sarge came up with his own versions. They were better that way.
He knew how important it was to be close to family. So, in true Sarge fashion, he got about as close as you can get. He actually lived with family. Sarge’s grandkids got to grow up with a front row seat to the best storyteller around.
They were obsessed with him. You’d often find them waiting at the top of the stairs for Sarge to leave his bedroom and come play. The door would swing open and he would emerge like a superhero behind a cloud of cigarette smoke. The Cops theme song would be playing in the background, "bad boys, bad boys, whatcha gunna do?" and their favourite person would come to tickle them and "steal their bug juice."
But he wasn’t just there for playtime. Sarge was there for the real and raw parts of growing up. He always had bristol board and markers for school projects and was a problem-solving referee when sibling fights broke out over belts.
All the grandkids and their friends called him Gramps. He was a father figure to many, especially hockey billets. Hockey players would come into the house as boys and leave as men. Sarge would cheer them on and sometimes call them "sh*teroos." He was a very dedicated sports fan… unless you lost.
And then came the next generation. Sarge adored being a great grandfather. His face would light up with pure joy when he got to see his great grandkids. He loved every video and visit. Simply put, Sarge was so proud.
Sarge taught everyone around him valuable life lessons. When you are invited somewhere, a simple "yup" or "no" works just fine. You don’t need an explanation. It’s much more meaningful to make something with your hands. Even if it means buying a $300 tool to build a few birdhouses. The only way to properly scratch your left ear is to swing your right arm all the way over your head. And it’s best to learn to like warm Alpine. That way no one will want to steal your beer at parties.
Sarge was such a unique fella full of opposite qualities.
He was patient enough to make a toothpick boat from scratch, but so impatient that if one car was driving ahead of you he would have total road rage.
Sarge was thrifty (or is this creative?) and would decorate by hanging fishnets on the wall, but he was incredibly generous with loved ones, often starting his Christmas shopping and wrapping in January.
He liked to shuffle around and keep things quiet, but wanted his music, TV, and his iPad blasting extra loud.
Sarge was childlike and wild with his family, but serious and respected as a solider.
He was a solitary fella, but also the life and soul of the party.
Sarge was a natural storyteller. So, please understand this has been an absolute privilege to share the greatest story of all time – his life.
Only Sarge could tell you real stories about meeting the queen, being honoured with a kukri from Gurkha soldiers, and coming *this close* to winning the lottery. The big dramatic details were somehow always right. In a weird way, the crazier it seemed, the more truthful it was.
We only wish that this last part wasn’t real.
After 84 wonderful years, Sarge left our world. He passed peacefully in his home on November 1, 2023, surrounded by loved ones.
Left with colourful memories and inappropriate jokes are his daughters, grandkids, and great grandkids. They want to thank all the doctors and nurses, especially Sue and Val, for giving Sarge dignity in his final days.
Sarge’s service will be held at Moase Funeral Home, Summerside, on Monday, November 6, 2023. Visitation is on Monday from 11am – 1pm with his funeral to follow. Interment in Peoples Cemetery, Summerside. Sarge’s celebration of life will be held at the RCAF 200 Wing at 2pm. No tears or black clothing please. Instead, throw something on with Sarge’s favourite colour – red.
In lieu of flowers, we ask that you pour a drink (maybe a vodka + spicy Clamato) with a loved one and share stories with each other. If you insist on doing that and something more, please donate in Sarge’s honour to the Wounded Warriors at Wounded Warriors Canada or Hospice PEI at www.hospicepei.ca.
Sarge lived his life with grit and grace, humour and heart. He was grateful to get this "bonus time" and he teased that his final words would be "toodaloo mother f*cker."
But in the true paradox of Sarge, his softer side came out, and he said, "I love you."
Cheers to you, Sarge. We love you more.