Robert Moore on the court in 1980
Robert Moore on the court in 1980

sports, sports, Thirty-five years later, the only men’s basketball All-American in Patriot history is still on target

It’s pretty rare when a person’s childhood interests develop into actual careers and pursuits. For most of us, the dreams of being a fireman, a princess, a cowboy, or an astronaut dissolve in the reality of adulthood.

The case of Dr. Robert Moore (’80) is a little different.

All his dreams came true and all the childhood interests fostered while growing up in Cheraw, eventually became a significant part of Moore’s adult life. A young boy who was interested in sports, law enforcement, guns, and medicine – a next-door neighbor was a family practitioner – became a basketball all-American, a part-time deputy and SWAT team member, the owner of a gun range, and an accomplished orthopaedic surgeon. Moore is the head of Florence’s Hand Surgery Associates, a practice he founded several years ago.

“It’s worked out pretty well,” says Moore.

Moore credits no small part of his life’s accomplishments to the time he spent at Francis Marion University, where classmates and old FMU hands may best remember him for his exploits on the basketball court. The 6-6 Moore played three seasons at FMU, after playing his freshman year at Baptist College. He led the Patriots to three NAIA District 6 playoff appearances, and single-season marks for points (592) and rebounds (291) during his senior season that still stand. Moore was named to the NAIA all-America Second Team that year. He’s the only FMU men’s basketball player to be named to an all-America team.
Moore recalls his basketball days fondly.

“We had a good team then, and the Florence community really supported our basketball team,” Moore says. “If you didn’t get to the game by the time it started, it was hard to get a seat. It was incredible, the fan support that we had . . . And there were no students living on campus then, but there were hundreds and hundreds of students who came to the game; it was just packed with students.”

A ‘good decision’

Moore’s love for sports developed early. He played “all three of the typical sports – baseball, basketball, and football” growing up, and says he was actually better at baseball than basketball.

“I was probably a better high school baseball player than I was basketball player,” says Moore, “but I enjoyed basketball more and had a chance to go and play in college, so it was a good decision.”

More than just basketball fell into place for Moore at FMU. His decision to transfer to the then, still-new college in Florence unknowingly led him directly to his future wife, Betsey, and firmed up his career choice.

Moore met his wife Betsey in a physics class they shared, and if it wasn’t love at first sight, it was pretty close. Robert and Betsey were a couple through college and married while Moore was in med school.

During Moore’s last two years at FMU, he also had the opportunity to work with Dr. Lorin Mason, a Florence orthopedist (now retired) who helped take care of the school’s athletes. Mason let Moore, the basketball star and aspiring physician, observe as he made his rounds.

Moore was leaning towards medicine even while in high school, due in large part to his doctor neighbor in Cheraw. Moore says that “just watching what (the neighbor) did and how he helped people really interested me.”

Shadowing Dr. Mason at FMU confirmed Moore’s post-graduate career plans and pushed him towards orthopaedics. He refined his interests early in his career at The Medical University of South Carolina in Charleston.

“One of the first classes you take is Gross Anatomy … just dissecting the hand and studying (its) anatomy; I became interested in the hand,” Moore said. “I thought I would probably do sports medicine because of my past experience in sports, but I really became interested in the hand in medical school.”

After he completed his first four years of medical school, Moore and his wife moved to Memphis, TN, while he completed a five-year orthopaedic residency. Moore completed a decade of medical training with a six-month-long hand surgery fellowship at the University of Virginia.

Homeward bound

Then, after that medical education tour of the South, it was back home. The Moore’s moved to the town where they fell in love.

“We’d always planned on coming back to Florence … we like Florence,” Moore says. “Florence is a good-sized town. I think it’s a great town to raise your family, and there are a lot of things to do – more and more now with the way things have grown in the last few years.”

Moore’s Florence career began at Pee Dee Orthopedics. He practiced there until he opened his own practice, Hand Surgery Associates, 14 years later. Moore said managing his own practice has allowed him to pursue his other interests, which include missionary work and the fulfillment of many lifelong interests.

Moore opened another business, Palmetto Defensive Training, in 2009. It’s a training center that teaches citizens how how to properly fire a weapon, and the ins and outs of handgun defense. PDT offers two-to-three weekend classes per month.

“Unfortunately,” says Moore, “there’s more and more crime in society and home invasions, and I think people just need to be able to know how to and be prepared to defend themselves.”

Like most everything else in his life, Moore’s interest in guns is long standing, although he didn’t grow up as a shooter or a hunter. His dad, a typically close-mouthed veteran of World War II, wouldn’t have it.

“I’ve always had an interest in guns, but I didn’t really grow up with guns,” Moore says. “My dad was on the front lines in WWII, and I remember him saying as I was growing up that there were two things we’re not going to do: ‘we’re not going to have guns, and we’re not going to go camping,’ the latter because he’d slept on the ground more than he wanted to. And that’s about all he would say about WWII.”

Moore’s boyhood interest in law enforcement has also led him join the Florence County Sheriff’s Office’s Reserve Deputy program several years ago. He volunteers at least 20 hours a month (mainly on weekends) with FCSO as a reserve deputy. He also serves as the medical director for the FCSO Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) team.

“I’ve always had an interest in law enforcement,” Moore said.

Moore and his wife still reside in Florence with their Boykin Spaniel, Dixie. Their daughter lives in North Carolina with her husband while she completes her anesthesiology residency, and their son attends Clemson University. He’s a senior, majoring in political science.

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