Saturday’s ride will be a bittersweet one for the Hillar C. Moore family.
The Moores will be celebrating family patriarch Hillar C. Moore Jr.’s designation as grand marshal of this year’s Wearin’ of the Green Parade, but they’ll also be representing him, as just a month after being selected last September, Moore passed away from complications of a stroke.
“Our family is very appreciative of the Parade Group LLC, allowing us to represent my dad as honorary grand marshals in this year’s Wearin’ of the Green, St. Patrick’s Day Parade,” Moore’s son, District Attorney Hillar C. Moore III, said. “My dad was looking forward to being the grand marshal, especially since the USMC Band (Moore was a retired sergeant major in the Corps) agreed to come and lead the parade right in front of the grand marshal’s float.
“You can tell by looking at the photo taken of him the night that he was named grand marshal that he was pleasantly surprised. We hope to represent him well, with all of his children, grandchildren, Marine Corps League members and other family and friends in attendance.”
“A lot of people thought it was going to be Hillar, not his dad,” parade founder Pat Shingleton said, also talking about how that photo captured the surprise on the elder Moore’s face. “Then what we did was, we put him on the fire truck, and he rode the parade route that night. So not only was he the first one to ride the route, but unfortunately, his untimely death a month later just added to it.”
Moore rode in a 1947 Mack fire truck, a fixture in the parade, and owned by The Parade Group and the Hammett and Shingleton families.
“He started the Marine Corps League here in Baton Rouge, and these are the guys that wear the red blazers and are at a lot of funerals,” Shingleton said.
According to the national league’s website, its focus is camaraderie and fellowship in order to preserve the traditions and promoting the interests of the United States Marine Corps, and bring together those who are now serving in the Corps and those who have been honorably discharged from that service. Their work extends to the Marines’ widows and orphans as well.
Moore was a 30-year veteran of the Marines, having landed and fought on Iwo Jima, Guam and Saipan and had been activated for Korea and stood ready for duty in Vietnam. In the early 1970s, when several former U.S. Marines were trying to form a Marine Corps League in Baton Rouge, Moore helped establish the Choctaw Detachment of the U.S. Marine Corps League.
Moore was constantly involved in civic and charitable events, Shingleton also said.
Although retired from Associated Grocers after 50 years, including 20 years as its president and CEO, Moore continued to provide truckloads of food for the needy — and enlisted volunteers to deliver it all — every Christmas.
Devoted to the Catholic Church, he served as a Eucharistic minister and lector for the chapel in Our Lady of the Lake Medical Center and received an invitation from Bishop Alfred Hughes to become a member of the Equestrian Knights of the Holy Sepulcher, papal honorees recognized for outstanding contributions to the local diocese.
Moore raised seven children, many grandchildren, great grandchildren, nieces and nephews and countless others.
“My partner (parade cooordinator) Grey Hammett and I have built a brand new grand marshal float and this grand marshal float is going to be a permanent float that recognizes Denis Coffey and Gene McFadden Hammett on the grand marshal float in perpetuity, and then we’ll have the grand marshals’ names displayed underneath that, in years to come,” Shingleton said. “So, Hillar and his family are going to occupy the float, and a marching unit, The United State Marine Corps Band, is going to be directly in front of that float.”
Coffey and McFadden Hammett, the parade’s coordinator’s mother, were both past grand marshals. All the designated grand marshals over the parade’s 28-year history will be listed on the float.
Past grand marshals have also include Ivar Quigley, Thomas “Junior” Finnegan, Dick Bourke, Michael Rosney and Michael Leahy, all who traveled from Ireland to lead the parade; Green Bay Packer, Seattle Seahawk and former LSU quarterback and BCS Most Valuable Player Matt Flynn, and former District Attorney Harry Morel of Jefferson Parish.
This is not the first time a grand marshal designee has passed away before parade day. Sister Margaret Hennessey and former Mayor-President Pat Screen also were honored posthumously, he said.
Also taking part in the parade will be Mayor President Kip Holden, Bishop of the Diocese of Baton Rouge Robert Muench, Sheriff Sid Gautreaux, Constable Reggie Brown and the Screen family, three pipe bands, six marching bands and 77 floats.