Longtime St. Thomas veterinarian John Moore dies at 62

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ST. THOMAS - John Moore was a gentle and kind veterinarian who cared for the island's people and their pets.

He died suddenly Tuesday, at age 62.

"He was fantastic, it was such a shock," Lucky Paws Foundation founder Dellia Holodenschi said. "He's just one of the best. Actually I think he was the best we had on this island."

Moore's wife and business partner Marilyn Moore, who also is a veterinarian, said they were married in 1977, the same year they moved to the Virgin Islands. The federal government hired John Moore to work with the local government, in particular the farmers, she said.

He helped with large animal veterinary medicine for livestock, and also assisted when exotic animals were imported or exported from the territory.

Marilyn Moore started her practice in Red Hook Plaza in 1979, she said. After working for the government for about 10 years, John Moore joined her in the practice. In 2004, the Moores expanded their practice and operated a second veterinary clinic on Weymouth Rhymer Highway, near the Edith L. Williams Alternative School.

The Moores have one daughter, Nicole, who currently attends the University of the Virgin Islands.

Marilyn Moore said her husband originally was from Kentucky and went to veterinary school at Tuskegee University in Alabama.

When the Moores came to the Virgin Islands, John Moore felt at home and never wanted to leave, Marilyn Moore said.

"He loved the water and he loved the people, and he loved to be able to help the animals and the people," she said. "He really believed that the animals deserved to have compassionate care. His life and his passion was animals and people and taking care of them."

Family friend Linda Wymer, a UVI professor in the College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences, said John Moore was her mentor.

"He said never let anyone walk away disappointed," she said. "His motto was 'Never give up, never surrender.' I have it taped to my wall, and I see it every day."

Wymer said the Moores have always hired the island's youth to work in their clinics and inspired many young people to pursue careers in medicine. John Moore would volunteer his time in the summer to speak to UVI students about veterinary medicine, she said.

He always took the time to explain in detail - especially to young people - what was wrong with their pets in an effort to get them interested and teach them.

Wymer said that just the other day, when she was in John Moore's office, three high school students came in to check on their dog, which had been hit by a car. John Moore put up the X-ray and showed them exactly which bones had been broken and how it had to heal before the dog would be back to normal.

"That's a teaching moment," she said. "He was always taking the time that nobody else would give."

With his background in large animal veterinary medicine, John Moore often worked at the race track.

"He always said it was a good day if he didn't have to do anything to the horses. He's had to put horses down right in front of people on the race track, when something happened to them during a race," Wymer said.

Mercedes Shelby, owner of Magens Point Resort, has brought hundreds of cats to John Moore over the years. She takes care of two colonies of feral cats, one at the resort and one in Red Hook where she lives. On her own she feeds, catches, spays and neuters the animals and releases them. She also sponsors the adoption of cats, she said.

"He always held my hand when I had to put a cat down," she said. "He was always very compassionate when I was going through a hard time with a sick cat. He always had time to talk to me. I can't remember a moment when Dr. John did not have time to answer my questions.

"He was a simple person; there were no airs about him. He was very down-to-earth and he had a good sense of humor," Shelby said. "And I always remember him smiling. No matter what, he always smiled."

Shelby said John Moore cared for everyone, and did so for the love of the animals.

"I remember there was an old lady that was sick, her name was Dotty, she had a lot of cats here in Red Hook," Shelby said. "She was basically indigent, and Dr. John took care of her animals. He was a true vet, not just for the money. He really was kind-hearted man."

"I am very sad and I am really in shock, and I am really going to miss him and I don't know where I'm going to go now," she said.

John Moore also worked with the Humane Society of St. Thomas-St. John, the Lucky Paws Foundation and others.

Holodenschi said he always supported Lucky Paws, which has the Cat Cafe program as well as SNIP - Spay/Neuter Island Pets.

"He never was a big talker as far as tooting his horn, but he was an excellent vet," she said. "In the middle of the night, if you called him, he would be there. He was kind of like our rock of Gibraltar and losing him is a big loss."

Funeral arrangements are being handled by Turnbull Funeral Home.

- Contact reporter Aldeth Lewin at 714-9111 or email alewin@dailynews.vi.

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