George E. Moore
George E. Moore ()

Longtime Temple University General Counsel George E. Moore died Sunday from pancreatic cancer at the age of 67.

Moore, who was remembered for his sound judgment and love of Temple sports and good music, joined Temple as its general counsel in 1989 when Robert Reinstein left the position to serve as dean of Temple Law School.

Moore took on additional roles over the years. He became secretary to the board of trustees in 1992 and was named a senior vice president in 2007. From 1990 to 2007, Moore was an adjunct professor at the law school. He was also a director of the Temple Law Foundation and Temple Educational Support Services Ltd., a Japanese corporation.

Ballard Spahr partner John B. Langel first met Moore when the two were a year apart in joining the law firm as first-year associates in the late 1970s. Langel said Moore, who spent 13 years as a litigator at Ballard Spahr before leaving for Temple, was “brilliant,” had “terrific judgment,” “great instincts” and was a “quick study.”

“The quick study actually made him such a great university counsel because he left being just a litigator and became the chief legal officer responsible for anything you could think of that would face a major university,” Langel said.

Moore was active in Temple’s litigation matters as well as its compliance, regulatory and transactional needs, Langel said.

According to Moore’s bio on Temple’s website, he was responsible for overseeing all of the legal affairs of the university and its subsidiaries regarding corporate governance, policy development, labor and employment matters, commercial transactions, constitutional law issues and the interpretation of statutes and regulations.

Temple Deputy General Counsel Michael Gebhardt said Moore oversaw the seven lawyers who worked in the legal office on the university’s campus as well as the legal staff of about six lawyers who handled the legal needs of the university’s wholly owned subsidiary health system. While the health system has its own chief counsel and is “fairly autonomous,” Gebhardt said Moore was aware of everything that was going on at the university and the health system.

Gebhardt characterized Moore’s hiring philosophy as “hire the best, most competent people and set them free. While we were all nominally reporting to him, his desire was that we told him about the things he needed to know and we made the appropriate judgment call about that.”

The legal department has attorneys who focus on specific areas, including litigation, transactions, real estate and construction, faculty and academic matters, intellectual property and discrimination and other agency claims, Gebhardt said.

Gebhardt added that Moore would freely admit that he pushed people on their positions almost “for sport.”

“George liked to be contrary because he liked to know whether you had thought through what you were telling him or if you were just choosing an easy path,” Gebhardt said.

But Moore was also quick to help find a solution, Gebhardt said, noting Moore was “unbelievably smart.”

“He was sharp in a way that few people were sharp,” Gebhardt said. “You could go in there having beaten your brain about something and he would come up with the angle.”

Gebhardt said he would argue Moore never stopped working because of his illness. Gebhardt said Moore was meeting with university leaders as late as last week, having conversations that focused mainly on Temple business.

“Simply put, George’s dedication to Temple was without equal,” said Temple University President Neil D. Theobald and board Chairman Patrick J. O’Connor in a joint statement to the Temple community. “During his university career, George provided wise counsel to four presidents and dozens of trustees on the vital issues facing the university. His advice was always based in one simple question: What action would be the best for all of Temple University’s students?”

Langel said there aren’t many people who have been at the university for as long as Moore was.

“He knew everything about the institution and knew everybody,” Langel said. “It was not uncommon for people to say, ‘What would George think.’ That was important.”

As a lawyer, Moore never panicked, even in an emergency, Langel said. He added that Moore was demanding and placed a premium on excellence, but he never took anything too seriously.

As a person, Moore had a clever sense of humor, a love of good wine, food and cooking, and an “eclectic” taste in music, Langel said.

“He had a great twinkle in his eye,” Langel said.

Gebhardt said Moore’s taste in music was varied beyond Gebhardt’s comprehension. Moore would trade information on new bands and go to see new acts live.

Temple football and basketball were other loves for Moore, who Gebhardt said had for a time hosted tailgate parties at Lincoln Financial Field for the football games. The tailgates would always be in the same spot and were always paid for on Moore’s dime, Gebhardt said.

“He bled cherry and white,” Langel said. “He just became such a patriot and believer in the university.”

Moore, a Punxsutawney, Pa., native, received an undergraduate degree from Dartmouth College in 1968 and his law degree from Temple in 1976. He is survived by his wife, two daughters and two sons.

A memorial service is set for 4 p.m. March 9 in the Temple Performing Arts Center on North Broad Street in Philadelphia.

Gina Passarella can be contacted at 215-557-2494 or at gpassarella@alm.com. Follow her on Twitter @GPassarellaTLI. •