Sweet Kenny Moore is retiring

Bill Dennison ·
24 December 2018
   2 comments

On 14 Dec 2018, I traveled to the Virginia Institute of Marine Science (VIMS) for the retirement party of my friend and colleague Ken Moore. Ken worked at VIMS for 45 years, which is a remarkable tenure. I recounted some vignettes of Ken that I used to describe him. There are 10 words that I used to describe Ken Moore: welcoming, fun, interesting, companion, collaborative, heliophilic, persistent, mentor, friend, and sweet.

Sweet Kenny Moore reacting to the crowd serenading him at his retirement party. Photo credit: Nancy Orth.
Sweet Kenny Moore reacting to the crowd serenading him at his retirement party. Photo credit: Nancy Orth.

I remember my first meeting with Ken 33 years ago in October 1985. I was a postdoc at the Marine Sciences Research Center at Stony Brook, New York. I was traveling to Norfolk to attend my first Estuarine Research Federation conference in Norfolk. I had read the Science paper that Robert "JJ" Orth and Ken had published in 1983 and I wanted to meet them. I had called ahead and JJ indicated that he and Ken would be working out on the VIMS pier. It was a cool blustery day when I found my way to Gloucester Point, parked and walked out to the pier. Ken, JJ, and Jacques van Montfrans were standing next to a sorting table where they were picking out the animals that they ‘vacuumed’ up from an eelgrass meadow using flowing seawater pumped up from below the pier. We talked about seagrass and I admired their offices out on the pier. I didn’t stay too long (it was cold and they were still sorting through samples) but I remember how friendly and open Ken, JJ, and Jacques were to me. It was not too long before I was able to begin a long and fruitful collaboration with Ken and JJ. That is when I knew that Ken was welcoming.

Ken, Bob, Nancy Orth, and I made an interesting trip to Europe together in 1987. We first attended a seagrass workshop in Goes, Holland. I remember the name of the town distinctly because I wandered around in Goes asking how to find a town that I was pronouncing “goes” as in “he goes to town”. It turns out that the Dutch people that I was asking could not understand my pronunciation, as they pronounced it something like “Haus” and I was already at the location that I was trying to find. After the Goes workshop, we traveled to West Berlin via overnight train. We were awakened in the middle of the night by a Gestapo-like East German border guard who demanded our passports so that he could violently stamp them. One night during the Botanical Congress, I found myself wandering the streets of West Berlin with Ken and our Australian colleague, Hugh Kirkman, which led to entry into a sleazy bar. Ken, Bob, Nancy, and I also traveled into East Berlin through Checkpoint Charlie, where the border guards gave Ken a hard time for the facial hair in his passport photo that he didn’t have anymore. We teased him that we would abandon him in East Germany. It was these experiences where I first learned that Ken is fun.

Ken Moore standing in front of his mustang that he drove to the Virginia Institute of Marine Science on his first day and his last day of work, separated by 45 years. Photo credit: Bill Dennison.
Ken Moore standing in front of his mustang that he drove to the Virginia Institute of Marine Science on his first day and his last day of work, separated by 45 years. Photo credit: Bill Dennison.

Sign taped to the mustang window by Ken,  wife Sally. Photo credit: Bill Dennison.
Sign taped to the mustang window by Ken’s wife Sally. Photo credit: Bill Dennison.

Ken had been a practicing research scientist well before he had his PhD, so he enrolled in the Marine Environmental and Estuarine Science (MEES) program offered through the University of Maryland with Michael Kemp as his advisor. Ken would come to the Horn Point Laboratory campus and stay in one of the apartments during the early part of the week and then drive back to the Virginia Institute of Marine Science to advise his students and oversee his research. I spent many evenings with Ken either in the apartment or in the honeymoon cottage that Judy and I rented in Trappe. We would discuss philosophy, science, family, soccer, and cars. This is when I learned that Ken is interesting.

We made a major effort to synthesize Chesapeake Bay Submerged Aquatic Vegetation (SAV), with Ken, Bob Orth, Michael Kemp, Court Stevenson, Rich Batiuk, Virginia Carter, Stan Kollar, and I working on what was known as Technical Synthesis I (Batiuk et al., 1992) which led to the publication of a Bioscience paper (Dennison et al., 1993). As a spin off of this effort, we put together a team of students and technicians to ground truth the annual aerial images that were collected for the monitoring program. We called this effort SAVQuest and it included the late Dr. Arthur Schwarzschild and Jill Bieri. Interestingly, Arthur became the site director of the Anheuser-Busch Coastal Research Center in Oyster, VA as part of the University of Virginia. Jill became the Virginia Coast Reserve Program Director for The Nature Conservancy also based on the Eastern Shore. I am sure that the SAVQuest efforts had something to do with their career trajectories. We had a lot of fun during this effort with field trips all over Chesapeake Bay. This is when I learned that Ken was a great traveling companion.

Ken, Bob Orth and I also developed a research program in Chincoteague Bay that included Drs. Michael Kemp, Court Stevenson, Dick Wetzel, and Marianne Burke. In this research program which we based in Greenbackville, Virginia, we had a lot of students, visiting researchers, and research assistants circulating around our makeshift research station. This is when I learned that Ken is truly collaborative.

Rich Batiuk, Bill Dennison, Ken Moore and Bob Orth at Ken,  retirement party.
Rich Batiuk, Bill Dennison, Ken Moore and Bob Orth at Ken’s retirement party.

Ken, Bob Orth and Jill Bieri visited me in Australia where we went to Stradbroke Island to study Moreton Bay seagrasses. My Australian students and I were always trying to avoid getting sun burned or dehydrated so we wore full body Lycra suits, big hats, and lots of sun cream. Ken, in contrast, would pull out a lawn chair and position myself in the sun with a huge grin on his face. This is when I learned that Ken was a sun worshiper, or heliophilic.

In 2009, after I had returned from Australia and Bob Orth and I wanted to initiate an updated synthesis of Chesapeake SAV, we enlisted Ken in this effort. As we began our discussions, Ken would pull out a series of analyses and papers that he had produced in the intervening years. Ken was always gracious when we would come up with what we thought was an original idea and he would show us what he had already accomplished. This is when I learned that Ken had a great trait in a scientists, in that Ken is persistent.

Beginning in 2016, Bob Orth and I assembled another group of Chesapeake Bay SAV researchers with a focus on recruiting early career scientists (Jon Lefcheck, Cassie Gurbisz, Mike Hannam, Jeni Keisman, Brooke Landry, Rebecca Murphy, Chris Patrick, Jeremy Testa) to join the experienced cohort (Bob Orth, Don Weller, Ken Moore, and me). This effort was successful in generating impactful papers (Orth et al., 2017; Lefcheck et al., 2018) and a series of segment fact sheets. The early career scientists thrived in this effort and many have landed great jobs. I knew that Ken had advised 40 students at VIMS, but this is when I learned from personal experience that that Ken is a great mentor.

Ken and some of his former students at his retirement party. Photo credit: Bill Dennison.
Ken and some of his former students at his retirement party. Photo credit: Bill Dennison.

When I was reflecting on my long collaboration (33 years) with Ken with my family, I realized that he was someone that they also remembered fondly and that I only had great memories. What came to mind was not one strong disagreement, rather lots of laughs, good stories to share, and a nice feeling about someone who had have had the pleasure to work with. All in all, Ken is a good friend.

The final word that summarizes Ken is that he is a sweet man. This word first came to our mutual colleague and friend Rich Batiuk. Rich contacted me in advance of Ken’s retirement party to collaborate on a song that we could use to serenade Ken at the party. We adapted Neil Diamond’s “Sweet Caroline” to create “Sweet Kenny Moore”. We had over a hundred people belting out “Sweet Kenny Moore” in the new Davis Building on the Virginia Institute of Marine Science campus with Ken, Sally, and their two sons in attendance. It was a great moment and the lyrics were the following:

Sweet Kenny Moore
14 Dec 2018
Richard Batiuk and William Dennison

Where it began, I can't begin to knowing
But then I know it's growing strong
Was in the spring
Then spring became the summer
Who'd have believed Ken would come along

Ken, studyin’ grass
Reaching out, counting grass, counting seeds

Sweet Kenny Moore (S-A-V)
Good times never seemed so good (so good, so good, so good)
I'd been inclined (S-A-V)
To believe they never would
But now Ken

Looks to retire and it don't seem so lonely
He can fill it up with the grands
At his lake house
Leaving VIMS and the reserve
Studying his seagrasses and wetlands

Ken, studyin’ grass
Reaching out, counting grass, counting seeds

Sweet Kenny Moore (S-A-V)
Good times never seemed so good (so good, so good, so good)
I'd been inclined (S-A-V)
To believe they never would
Oh no, no

Sweet Kenny Moore (S-A-V)
Good times never seemed so good (so good, so good, so good)
Sweet Kenny Moore (S-A-V)
I believe they never could

Sweet Kenny Moore (S-A-V)

Ken Moore at the performance of
Ken Moore at the performance of “Sweet Kenny Moore”. Photo credit: Bill Dennison.

References:

  1. Batiuk, R., R. J. Orth, K. Moore, P. Heasley, W. Dennison, J. C. Stevenson, L. Staver, V. Carter, N. Rybicki, S. Kollar, R. E. Hickman, and S. Bieber. 1992. Submerged aquatic vegetation habitat requirements and restoration goals: A technical synthesis. USEPA Final Report. CBP/TRS 83/92.
  2. Dennison WC, Orth RJ, Moore KA, Stevenson JC, Carter V, Kollar S, Bergstrom P, Batiuk RA. 1993. Assessing water quality with submersed aquatic vegetation. BioScience  43: 86–94.
  3. Lefcheck, Jonathan S., et al. "Long-term nutrient reductions lead to the unprecedented recovery of a temperate coastal region." Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (2018): 201715798.
  4. Moore KA, Wilcox DJ, Orth RJ. 2000. Analysis of the abundance of submersed aquatic vegetation communities in the Chesapeake Bay. Estuaries  23: 115–127.
  5. Orth, Robert J., and Kenneth A. Moore. "Chesapeake Bay: an unprecedented decline in submerged aquatic vegetation." Science 222.4619 (1983): 51-53.
  6. Orth, Robert J., et al. "Submersed aquatic vegetation in Chesapeake Bay: sentinel species in a changing world." Bioscience 67.8 (2017): 698-712.

About the author

Bill Dennison

Dr. Bill Dennison is a Professor of Marine Science and Vice President for Science Application at the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science (UMCES). Dr. Dennison’s primary mission within UMCES is to coordinate the Integration and Application Network.



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Comments

  • Bharat Patel MD 3 years ago

    Beautiful article.
    Ken is a great sweet person.

  • Ken Moore 3 years ago

    Thanks Bill! I was a wonderful surprise having you there at my recption and of course what can I say about your toast and song...well "turn around is fair play". I have such wonderful memories too of all our times together. Cheers! Ken

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