Norma Jean (Smith) Moore, known throughout her life as Jinga, died peacefully at the age of 95 on September 17, 2019. As we reflect on her extraordinary life and many gifts to our school, it seems fitting that her passing is on New Hampton School’s anniversary. The school she loved dearly was founded 198 years earlier on September 17, 1821.
Jinga and her two brothers grew up in New Hampton with their parents, Fred and Grace Smith, who led New Hampton School from 1926-1959. In her youth, she attended the one-room Village School in New Hampton, Bristol High School, and then the Bancroft School in Worcester, Massachusetts. She graduated from Mount Holyoke College in 1944. Later, she completed her master’s degree in Spanish at the University of New Hampshire in 1979.
Jinga met T. Holmes “Bud” Moore when he was a student at New Hampton School, and they married in 1944 while Bud was on leave from the Navy. They came to live in New Hampton in 1946 where Bud became a member of the school’s faculty.
While Jinga’s legacy is intimately tied to her identity as both the daughter of former Headmaster Fred Smith, and the wife of former Headmaster Bud Moore, Jinga’s story with the school stands on its own. Her story is one that we recall and celebrate with great fondness and gratitude. When Bud became headmaster of New Hampton School in 1959, Jinga graciously took on the traditional role of a headmaster’s wife. This position entailed many hostess duties during that era including meetings, dinners, and school events on and off-campus.
As times and women’s roles shifted, Jinga’s position evolved, and she became a member of the school faculty as a teacher of Spanish and Latin, a coach, and a dorm parent. Jinga mentored countless students through the rough waters of adolescent life. For those that came to New Hampton from far away, she helped them adapt to a new place, cold weather, and lots of snow. For others, her support and ear in a difficult time made all the difference. She taught them to drive, took them to the dog sled races, and provided advice and guidance. She went well beyond her role as headmaster’s wife and faculty member. Jinga derived joy from her students’ antics and motherly pride in their accomplishments.
Many people who grew up alongside the Moore children in New Hampton Village describe Jinga as a personal role model because of her love of the outdoors, the town, and its people. New Hampton School Trustee Victoria Blodgett ’80 remembers Jinga’s presence on campus during her days as a student. “Mrs. Moore was, in the truest meaning of the word, a very strong presence on campus. Seemingly everywhere and doing everything, she was respected as an educator first and foremost but adored as a protector, mentor, and friend. I don’t know how best to describe the ways in which she was a weaver of the fabric of New Hampton School and community. It’s as if all of the creatures and flowers and trees across campus knew her, and nodded as she walked by. We were so lucky to pass through her life, she being the constant in a community that changed faces so often. She opened herself to us as students—shared her home, her knowledge, stories, and her wit. She had high expectations of us all, which in retrospect was incredibly important. She was a source of unbounded energy who helped to make life for generations of young people more engaging. I forever remember the sound of her shoes, clicking out the fast-paced walk up the hill from Lane, glasses hanging by a chain, her red hair lit by the afternoon sun. She picked up her head, her face open and welcoming and said ‘Hello Vickie.’ She would never know that her greeting made my day, but it did. And that’s just one simple example of how she touched so many students every day.”
Her loyalty to the school and its alumni and friends never faltered. Alumni frequently remember how she and Bud welcomed them into her home and provided love, support, and encouragement throughout their journey. For our dedicated and hard-working faculty, Jinga and Bud offered daily coffee for the faculty each day during the morning break, for nearly ten years. Jinga rarely missed a New Hampton School reunion, always eager to be there for her former students and faculty. And they, too, came to Reunion to reconnect with her and celebrate her birthday, which frequently fell on that weekend in early summer. Jinga gave selflessly throughout her tenure at New Hampton School, and the school is a better place because of her.
“I had a few opportunities to spend time with Jinga after I arrived at New Hampton School,” offers Head of School Joe Williams. “She had something to share about each and every alum I had met in my travels, and she hung on every word I shared about the school. I am in awe of her lifetime of service to her students and our community, and the incredible impact she had on so many people during her extraordinary life.”
Alongside Jinga’s constant advocacy and passion for New Hampton School, she was a teacher, historian, athlete, and steward of the local town and community in which she lived. She had a passion for languages. Jinga was an avid golfer, skier, and tennis player, and always took advantage of the outdoor recreational possibilities so accessible in New Hampshire. She was dedicated to music, singing in various groups, practicing the piano every morning, and attending myriad plays and concerts. Highly engaged in the community and region, she often shared her comprehensive knowledge of local history, regularly giving tours of New Hampton to visitors. She was a great supporter of the arts in New Hampshire and dedicated her time and energy to local organizations including the Board of Conservators of the Gordon Nash Library and the New Hampton Historical Society.
Jinga is survived by her children, Thomas H. Moore Jr. and his wife Tina of Rohnert Park, CA; Andrew S. Moore and his wife Susannah of New Hampton, NH; Jamyn Moore Sheff and her husband Paul of Boylston, MA; Robinson C. Moore and his wife Laura of Groton, MA; Elibet Moore Chase and her husband George of Warner, NH; and by fourteen grandchildren and eight great-grandchildren.
A celebration of Jinga’s life will be held at the New Hampton Community Church on November 2, 2019, at 2 PM. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the New Hampton School, the Gordon Nash Library, the New Hampton Historical Society, the Newfound Lake Region Association, the Mayhew Program, or the charity of your choosing.
The full remembrance from her family is published here.