Pat Moore: 1928-2020

Whenever it becomes safe for fans to return in full-throated force at college basketball games, there will be an empty seat at Westmont College’s Murchison Gym. It was occupied for decades by Pat Moore, the fiercest supporter of the Westmont Warriors. She usually stationed herself behind the home team’s bench, but she also was known to join the rowdy crowd in the student section.

“It was crazy to see this 75-year-old screaming and yelling with the students,” said Dave Loveton, who was covering Westmont sports for the News-Press and wrote a Page 1 article in 2003 that dubbed her “Passionate Pat.”

Those public displays only hinted at the passion for life that burned deeply in Pat Moore. It flickered out on December 27, when she died at 92 after a month in Santa Barbara’s Serenity House.

“She did everything with great heart,” said Beth Moore, one of four children Pat raised to be competitive athletes and productive citizens. As her only daughter, Beth loved to hear the stories about Pat’s ancestors who raised hell in the streets as suffragettes. The spark for basketball came from Pat’s Indiana upbringing. Her father played hoops at Wabash College.

Marriage to a Goodyear tire executive took Pat to postwar Japan. Eventually the family settled in Orange County, where Pat kept her brood busy with sports at Los Alamitos High while preparing them for higher education. All but Craig, the oldest, went on to play college basketball.

John Moore came to Westmont to play for coach Chet Kammerer in 1976. That’s when Pat started pulling for the Warriors. Younger brother Mike followed John to Westmont. Meanwhile, Beth went to UCLA and played on the Bruins’ AIAW national championship team in 1978.

“My mother worked as a real-estate agent in Orange County and did a lot of traveling to watch our games and Beth’s,” John said. She was a regular at Westmont’s home games and also caught up with the Warriors when they visited colleges like Biola in Southern California.

Pat’s fandom rose to a new level after John Moore became Westmont’s head basketball coach in 1993, a position he held for 27 years through the 2019-20 season. She was there to celebrate most of her son’s 558 wins with the Warriors. “If we lost [227 times], blame it on the refs,” he said.

Well-schooled in the details of the game, Pat would loudly upbraid any official who made a questionable call against the Warriors. “It wasn’t about showing them up,” said Beth, who accompanied her mother to many games. “She wants them to get it right.”

John sometimes worried that an outburst by his mother might backfire against the Warriors, but he had to admire her nerve when she chased an official to the far end of the court at Vanguard University in Costa Mesa. “Another ref called a T [technical foul] on her,” John recalled, “and she went and sat down next to Bill Reynolds, the Vanguard coach. He said, ‘She’s not one of us.’”

When the hostilities on the court came to an end, Pat Moore would often engage in friendly conversation with the officials who had incurred her wrath. “Jim Stupin was big-time referee who really liked her,” John said. “He had tears in his eyes the last time he did a game here. He gave her a hug, and she gave him a pinch.”

Pat moved to Santa Barbara to be close to John and Beth, a graduate of Stanford Law School who practices here. She watched her last games at Murchison Gym in March, when the Warriors won the Golden State Athletic Conference championship. John was named 2020 NAIA men’s coach of the year, but the arrival of the COVID-19 pandemic scuttled his team’s plans to compete in the national tournament. Shortly later, he announced his retirement from coaching. He remains a professor of kinesiology at Westmont.

Just four years into her career as a teacher and girls’ basketball coach at Cate School in Carpinteria is Laura Moore, Pat’s 32-year-old granddaughter.

Pat Moore | Credit: Paul Wellman (file)

“My grandmother helped raise me when my mom [Beth] was sick with cancer,” she said. “She taught me perseverance and resilience.” Laura needed those qualities to earn a PhD in history at UCSB. Pat also told her “that it’s important to follow through on your dreams,” which prompted her to leave a faculty position at the university and continue the family’s basketball legacy. Like her uncle’s Warriors, the Cate Rams won a league title last year.

Pat Moore’s health went into decline just as the spreading coronavirus threw high school sports into limbo and turned college basketball into a sport without spectators. During her last month, the Santa Barbara Court of Champions inducted her into its roster of notable basketball figures, the only member who is strictly a fan among legendary players and coaches.

Her children and their children, visiting in pairs, showered her with love. John Moore called her “Patty Melt,” a name affectionately given her by neighbors in Los Alamitos.

“The main thing is how much she cared,” John said. “She was never apathetic. She adored all her kids. We’re grateful for the way she treated us.”

Beth Moore played music at her mother’s bedside. When her departure from this world was near, she thought of how much Pat loved graduation ceremonies. “The last song I played for her,” Beth said, “was ‘Pomp and Circumstance.’”


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