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Jonathan Moore, 84; helped create Harvard’s Shorenstein Center

Mr. Moore held positions <br/>in several agencies during the administrations of six US presidents.
Mr. Moore held positions <br/>in several agencies during the administrations of six US presidents.

Using his own career as a prime example, Jonathan Moore spoke in 1967 about “in-and-outers” who alternate between serving in government jobs and careers such as academia or the law. That divided existence, he said, helps them “understand how to calculate the common, overlapping interest” and see how “various pieces of the picture fit together.”

Mr. Moore, who was 84 when he died in his Weston home Wednesday of complications from a degenerative muscle condition, covered more territory than most who master multiple realms.

In the 1980s, he drafted a proposal and helped raise funds for what became the Shorenstein Center on Media, Politics, and Public Policy at the Harvard Kennedy School, and he did so during his dozen-year tenure as director of Harvard’s Institute of Politics.


During an even more extensive government career, he held significant positions in several agencies during the administrations of six presidents and was an adviser to two presidential campaigns. Such variety, he believed, was an important hedge against becoming complacent in a solitary job or discipline.

“When people live in isolation they are in danger of becoming distorted by their own interests, their approach to life may be narrow, prejudiced,” he said in the 1967 speech, delivered to the Harvard Club of Eastern Michigan. “People who are exposed to others, to different ways of life than their own, are going to generally behave better in terms of their fellow man.”

Mr. Moore began his public service career right after graduate school, working for the US Information Agency in India and Liberia during the Eisenhower administration. He was a special assistant to an assistant secretary of defense during the Kennedy administration and a special assistant to an assistant secretary of state in the Johnson administration.

During the Nixon administration, he worked in the State Department, at Health, Education, and Welfare, in the Defense Department, and as an associate attorney general until he left when his boss, Elliot Richardson, resigned during the Watergate era’s Saturday night massacre. After Mr. Moore’s stint directing Harvard’s Institute of Politics, he returned to Washington as ambassador at large for refugee affairs in the Reagan administration’s State Department. In 1989, President George H.W. Bush appointed Mr. Moore to be an ambassador and the US alternate representative for special political affairs at the United Nations.


Since 1995 he had been an associate at the Shorenstein Center, and while in his late-70s he still traveled for research to countries such as Afghanistan, Haiti, and Rwanda. “You can’t learn what you need to know about these places from Harvard,” he told Harvard Kennedy School magazine in 2011. “You’ve got to get out to the field.”

In the center’s tribute to Mr. Moore, former UN ambassador Samantha Power recalled an early-1990s evening “when I was digging into the atrocities in Bosnia.” Stopping by her office, Mr. Moore asked: “ ‘Do you think what’s happening there is a result of the absence of good or the presence of evil?’ I was blown away by that,” she said, “and it began a 25-year friendship with him and his wife.”

Born in New York City, Mr. Moore was one of five siblings. His father, Charles F. Moore Jr., had been a speechwriter for Dwight D. Eisenhower’s presidential campaigns and went on to be a Ford Motor Co. vice president and head of promotions for the Globe. His mother, the former Adeline Nichols, was a painter and volunteer educator.


Mr. Moore’s family lived in Alexandria, Va., and Cambridge before settling in Wayland, where he spent much of his youth. His family also had a vacation home in Orleans, where he was an assistant to the local shellfish constable. “We lived the Cape’s beauty and bounty firsthand and treasured its magic,” he told writer Larry Minear in a 2015 interview posted on wickedlocal.com.

After graduating from Browne & Nichols School, Mr. Moore went to Dartmouth College, where he was in the honors English program and received a bachelor’s degree in 1954. Mr. Moore also wrote poetry, which “was part and parcel of him being a curious person and seeing that art dealt with all the parts of life that weren’t art, like work and trying to be a better person and trying to make the world OK,” said his son, Charles Moore IV of Brookline, who was named for Mr. Moore’s father and late older brother.

Mr. Moore graduated with a master’s in public administration from Harvard University in 1957 and began his USIA posting in India just after marrying Katherine Andres. Their fathers had known each other from summer camp as boys and as Dartmouth students.

“If there were a relationship with a person that was most important to my father it would be the one he had with my mother,” their son said, and Mr. Moore valued time spent with others. “I think my father would have said he was rich in the great accumulation of friends and relationships.”


In the late 1950s and early ’60s, Mr. Moore was an aide to US Senator Leverett Saltonstall, a Massachusetts Republican, and helped plan what became the Cape Cod National Seashore. Later in the 1960s, Mr. Moore was a foreign policy adviser to Michigan Governor George Romney and New York Governor Nelson Rockefeller during their presidential bids. He also was in the first class of fellows at the Institute of Politics.

Mr. Moore could be self-effacing about the fortuitous turns his career took. “I kept showing up in places that kept turning out to be educational and rewarding,” he told Minear in 2015. “This is what life is supposed to be, isn’t it – an adventure?”

A service will be announced for Mr. Moore, who in addition to his wife and son leaves three daughters, Joan and Jennifer, both of Albuquerque, and Jocelyn Moore Clinton of London; a sister, Lydia Moore DuPertuis of Orleans; a brother, Benjamin of Seattle; and four grandchildren.

A frequent writer of opinion essays for the Globe and other media outlets, Mr. Moore “was seized by the question of how to be moral,” his son said. “That was something he would talk about with his friends and family a great deal of the time.”

In 1999, a year after editing the book “Hard Choices: Moral Dilemmas in Humanitarian Intervention,” Mr. Moore wrote an op-ed for the Globe about the refugee crisis created by fighting in Kosovo that could have easily been penned today: “How are refugees to be returned to their homes when their homes have been destroyed? We spend on war, but will not invest in peace.”


A nearly lifelong liberal Republican, “he was sort of the loyal opposition within his party,” his son said, and Mr. Moore finally changed his registration to Democrat for the 2016 Massachusetts primary. Readers might sense his struggles with the geopolitical world he had inhabited in a 2014 essay for WBUR-FM.

“We prefer to settle our differences through polar combat in narrow, negative terms which divide, divert, and obstruct us from common purpose,” he said. “We lack a national ethos — a consensus about our collective effort and our commitment to public good — and this puts us at a disadvantage as we face the future.”

Bryan Marquard
can be reached at bryan.marquard@globe.com.