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An Olympic Life Charlie Moore '51

Olympian. CEO. Athletic Director. Philanthropist.

For most people, any one of these titles would give the bearer a sense of satisfaction of a life well-lived and milestones achieved. But Charlie Moore '51 isn’t like most people. One of the greatest intermediate hurdlers of all time, Moore had a Hall of Fame career at Cornell as an undergraduate and went on to win Olympic gold in 1952 before embarking on an impressive professional career that has spanned six decades.

A self-described “workaholic,” at the age of 88, Moore has added one more title to the list – author. And in true Moore fashion, he did it by publishing two books in the span of eight months – “Running on Purpose”, a career and business memoir, and “One Hurdle at a Time: An Olympian’s Guide to Clearing Life’s Obstacles”, a companion book intended to challenge a middle-grade audience to aim higher and be their best selves.

Moore will lecture on both books at the Cornell Club on January 8, 2018 in New York City.

“Two years ago, I wrote ‘Running on Purpose’ for my family,” says Moore. “When I finished that, I realized that there are lessons you learn as you develop into an elite athlete and you take those lessons through your whole life. Without being prescriptive about it, I thought there was a story there.”

“Running on Purpose” begins with the recounting of Moore’s gold medal race in the 400-meter hurdles at the 1952 Summer Olympic Games in Helsinki, Finland. Running on a rain-soaked track, Moore set the Olympic record (50.8 seconds) using his innovative 13-stride approach. He also won a silver medal running the third leg on the 4x400 relay team. Later that summer, Moore went on to establish a world record of 51.6 in the 440-yard hurdles at the British Empire Games in London, closing our his track career and having never lost a race in either the 400-meter or the 440-yard hurdles.

From there, the book shifts to his childhood in Coatesville, Pa.

Born in 1929, Moore spent his childhood caring for and riding horses, raising chickens to sell, and learning important life lessons from his father, Charles (Crip) Moore, Sr.

In many ways, Moore’s life paralleled his father’s. Both men were born in the same town, attended the same prep school, and were captains of their respective track teams. Crip had wanted to attend Cornell, but due to financial restraints accepted a scholarship to run track at Penn State instead. Moore, on the other hand, was initially interested in attending Penn State, but chose to “walk-on” to the track team at Cornell. Crip was an alternate on the US Track and Field team for the 1924 Summer Olympics in Paris, with Moore earning a spot on the team in 1952, making them the first father-son duo to represent US Track and Field at the Olympics. Both men were also world record holders in the hurdles.

Charles (Crip) Moore, Sr (left) and Charles Moore, Jr were the first father-son duo to represent US Track and Field at the Olympics

“Much of my success in life, I attribute to my father,” says Moore. “The book is really a story about a father-son relationship … Back in those days, your father would say something and you'd say ‘yes sir' and then you did it. That was it. So I've always given him all the credit for all the hurdling and running. Same with business. I got back from the Olympics, and he let me run the family business from Day 1.”

Moore helped that business – Lenape Forge – grow to unprecedented heights and eventually brokered its sale to Gulf+Western in 1965. He was named the president of Lenape and ran the division until 1973 when he was recruited to run Interpace Corporation’s Lapp Insulator Division in LeRoy, N.Y. For the next 20 years, Moore served as president and CEO of several multinational manufacturing companies, often taking a business that was in trouble and turning around its fortunes.

“I'm comfortable in uncharted waters,” explains Moore. “Some people don't want to go out of the sphere they can control. I may make a mess of it, but I'm not afraid of going outside of my comfort zone. I talk in the book about getting fired. That's nothing but a chance to remarket yourself. And I did.”

In the spring of 1994, Moore stepped out of his comfort zone once again by taking over as the Athletic Director at Cornell University. At the age of 65, he was faced with “the most challenging turnaround yet.” According to Moore’s book, the department had “dropped two men’s sports, had a record of budget shortfalls, and had too many losing teams, as well as some gaps in competitive facilities.”

He held the AD position for five years and in that time implemented several initiatives – such as endowing head coaching positions and establishing self-funded teams – that have since been utilized by athletic departments around the country. He also oversaw the construction or upgrade of numerous facilities, including the Friedman Strength and Conditioning Center, the Kane Sports Complex, outside tennis courts at the Reis Tennis Center, improvements to the Oxley Equestrian Center, the Niemand-Robison Softball Field, the Stifle Fencing Salle, international-standard squash courts, and an irrigation system at the Robert Trent Jones Golf Course.

At the age of 70, when most people would retire, Moore changed careers once again, becoming the executive director of the Committee Encouraging Corporate Philanthropy. CECP was founded by Paul Newman, John Whitehead, and Peter Malkin under the premise that corporations and their leaders can and should be a force for good in society. Moore led the CECP for 13 years, his longest job outside of running his family business. He helped the organization to grow into a movement of more than 150 CEOs of the world’s largest companies that produce over $18 billion per year in societal investment.

“Thanks to CECP and inspired CEO leadership, corporations now believe that their social investments are a core business strategy,” Moore writes. “I relished witnessing and being a catalyst for this change in mindset.”

Not ready to slow down, Moore is on to his next project – working with the United States Olympic Committee as it develops a program to help Olympians transition into a post-athletic career.

“We take these kids at 7 or 8 years old, and that's all they do,” says Moore. “And then the Olympics is over and they think 'Oh my god. What do I do now?' It's a real problem. They all have unique skills that came about while developing the skill set to become an elite athlete.

“Part of this project relates to these lessons and how you incorporate educational and life skills, as well as add value in changing or upgrading your career. So that's my new occupation. At the age of 88, it will be fun to tackle that now.”

Both “Running on Purpose” and “One Hurdle at a Time” are available through Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Books A Million, or at www.runningonpurpose.com.

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