The Ames Tribune published the following profile on Team CoeBRAI veteran and century biker Dr. David Moore '80 for Black History Month. In addition to biking the past two RAGBRAIs, David hosted Team CoeBRAI at his home in Ames in 2008.
Nomadic Midwesterner and neurologist
By Laura Millsaps
Special to The Tribune
Published: Saturday, February 13, 2010
Dr. David B. Moore remembers wanting to be a doctor when he was very young. His maternal grandfather, a miner, was dying of black lung disease.
“It made a big impression on me. I was only 4 years old, but I remember that being the first time I wanted to be able to make people feel better,” said Moore, now 53.
Now a neurologist at McFarland Clinic and a resident of Ames since 2000, Moore said that though inspiration came early, his path to medicine wasn’t a straight line.
His father’s career as a Methodist minister led the family across the Midwest, and Moore moved many times as a child. He calls himself a “nomadic Midwesterner.” Though a native of Fort Wayne, Ind., the family moved to Iowa, and he graduated from high school in Fort Dodge in 1976.
Moore said his father, Alvin, became more political as he got older, becoming the first African-American to run for U.S. Congress in Iowa when they lived in Council Bluffs, and becoming the first African-American pastor of an all white congregation when they lived in Des Moines.
Alvin Moore was shot and killed during a visit to Milwaukee, Wis., in 1975.
His killer was never found. Though David Moore said the family never discovered what happened, they believe his death was a result of his political activism.
Moore, “lucky number seven” of nine children, went to Coe College, wrestled for Barron Bremner, a collegiate hall of fame coach, and “did OK academically, but not great.”
But several people in his youth, including Peter Wickham, his chemistry professor at Coe, were supportive of his goals.
“He believed I could do anything, and didn’t let me give up on my dream,” Moore said.
While he almost completed a doctorate degree in pharmacy at Creighton University and did very well, he took the MCAT for a second time, did well, and attended the University of Iowa Medical School, graduating in 1988. An internship and residency at the University of Wisconsin-Madison followed, as well as a fellowship in epilepsy at Vanderbilt University Medical Center, which he completed in 1994.
Moore practiced in Elkhart, Ind., for six years before coming to Ames. He wanted to be back in Iowa and closer to his mother, Betty, now 83.
“It just gives me warm fuzzies to see Mom once a month after all these years away,” he said.
Moore said two events during his academic studies affected the kind of physician he became.
One was being diagnosed with dyslexia. The reading disorder affected his academic performance at Coe, but learning to deal with it helped him do well in medical school.
The second was the onset of seizures as he was graduating from Coe. Learning to cope with his epilepsy was another factor that drew him to become an epileptologist as part of his work in neurology.
“As I was working on my residency, I knew from my own experiences that sometimes it was hard to tell if my difficulties were from the medications I was taking, or from my dyslexia, or cognitive problems caused by my seizures,” Moore said.
The process taught Moore sympathy, he said.
“I understand where my patients are coming from, particularly teenagers and younger kids,” Moore said. “It can be embarrassing for them, and they can be afraid of what’s happening to them. I think my own experiences make me a better person and a better physician.”
What person in African-American history do you most admire? “Bobby Kennedy. I believe he had the biggest impact on the system. His influence over his brother and his views on racial equality issues really influenced things at the top, where people had the power to make change happen. People gave a lot of credit to Lyndon Johnson for progress in racial equality, (but) it was Bobby who started it all.
“But I also have to mention Rosa Parks. That single event was the catalyst for everything else. Martin Luther King Jr. happened at the right time. If Rosa Parks hadn’t done what she’d done, things might be different today.”
What does Black History Month mean to you? “Despite our country being a melting pot, every group wants to preserve their history. Keeping tabs on one’s cultural identity, that’s imperative.
“However, I dislike the idea of one month in which we learn cultural diversity. To me that’s bad.
“Who was the first man killed in the Revolutionary War? A black man. Who first invented the process of blood transfusions? A black man. How many people know about these things? They should.
“But it should be integrated into what we learn in school so that it’s part of our historical tradition, not taught as a separate or different thing. It shouldn’t be set apart, but part of the whole.”