William Gifford Moore

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  • William Gifford Moore, who passed away on Aug. 28, 2017, in Fuquay-Varina, N.C., was the last president of Lehigh and Hudson River Railway. Under his leadership the railroad was an integral part of the Warwick Valley, employing hundreds of residents. Many people remember the L&HR caboose bringing Santa to town each year.

  • William Gifford Moore

William Gifford Moore passed peacefully into Paradise on Thursday, Aug. 28, 2017, at Windsor Point, Fuquay-Varina, N.C., at the age of 91.

He was a Navy veteran, a railroad executive, a husband, father, grandfather and great-grandfather.

Born on July 15, 1926, in Charlotte, N.C., he lived in Kentucky, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Maryland, New York, Virginia, Connecticut and then back to North Carolina to live in Raleigh in retirement. He lived his last 17 years in Fuquay-Varina near Raleigh.

Services will be on Saturday, Sept. 23, at 2 p.m. at Windsor Point in Fuquay-Varina and on Sunday, Sept. 24 at 2 p.m. at Forest Hills Baptist Church, in Raleigh. His cremains will be buried next to his wife in a country cemetery in Greenwich, Ohio, at a later date.

He was educated in Ohio schools, graduating with a bachelor's degree from the University of Akron. He served in the U.S. Navy in World War II as a radioman on a small tug in the Pacific. He continued to use his Morse code skills until the last two years of his life.

After the war he worked for the B&O Railroad and met Irene Murray, a teller in the small town bank in Greenwich, Ohio. He described her as “effective and capable” and was smitten. Irene used to tell of the many reasons he gave for coming into the bank to see her - like showing her his new toothbrush.

They married in 1948 and raised two daughters.

As a railroad executive, he was with the B&O Railroad; was general superintendent of the Lehigh Valley Railroad in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania; president of the Lehigh and Hudson River Railway; and senior vice president of operations and a director for the Genesee and Wyoming Railroad Company.

The L&HR was a major presence in Warwick Valley but declined from 1960 through 1970. Causing the decline were the merging of the Erie and Lackawanna railroads that eliminated a percentage of the through traffic that was the L&HR’s bread and butter; PennCentral finding ways to circumnavigate and not do business with the L&HR; the PennCentral’s bankruptcy, leaving it unable to pay the L&HR significant funds; and the PennCentral-owned Poughkeepsie Bridge fire that the PennCentral refused to repair.

The L&HR was forced to declare Chapter 7 bankruptcy in 1972.

“It was largely due to Mr. Moore’s efforts that the L&HR was even included in the formation of Conrail," railroad historian Marty Feldner of Warwick said. "If that had not happened, there would probably be nothing left today.”

Gifford was the last president of this short line railroad. Under his leadership the railroad was an integral part of the community, employing hundreds of residents. Many people remember the L&HR caboose bringing Santa to town each year. His wife, Irene, was a familiar presence, working at Empire National Bank on Main Street.

The railroad was headquartered in the Village of Warwick, very close to downtown. The building still stands and is now used by various businesses and professionals.

After ending his role as L&HR president, he worked at R.L. Banks & Associates in Washington, D.C., as a transportation consultant and then worked for Genesee and Wyoming Holdings in Greenwich, Conn. He and Irene enjoyed retirement, involved in civic organizations and church activities. Irene passed away in 2006.

He is survived by daughters Melinda Stephani (husband Martin) of Apex, N.C., and Susan Lambeth (husband John) of Raleigh, N.C.; four grandchildren: Andrew Stephani (wife Robin), Matthew Stephani (wife Sara), Kyler Lambeth (wife Stephanie) and Kelsey Lambeth. He is survived by great-grandchildren Zachary Moore Stephani, Isaac Stephani and Elenya Stephani.

Memorial contributions may be made to Forest Hills Baptist Church in Raleigh. Condolences to cremationsocietync.com.

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