Dr. Moore (right) with Jesse Mason Jr. (left) and Ellon Cockrill (middle).

The Doctor Is In

 

Dr. John Moore Jr. is a man intensely passionate. It starts with his family, of course, and the unwavering love affair with his wife, Barbara Ann, the lightning bolt who struck him decades ago and with whom he’d welcome and raise two sons.  

 

Moore’s passion infused his medical career, invested in the legions of patients he’s treated and the generation of physicians he’s impacted through a gentle, supportive nature. It radiates back to his beginnings and the esteem he holds for the example of his parents and the embrace of his hometown, Arkadelphia. No person ever had a better place to grow up, he’ll tell you, from the dinner table to Main Street, and from that yeast rose his passion to commit to the greater good, from serving in the Air Force to going into medicine.  

 

And, there’s more than a little passion left over for the game of golf, too. Moore, who’s better known to thousands as Mack, would compete for Ouachita Baptist University, the University of Arkansas and, in his later years, on the National American Senior Team in international competition, landing in the Arkansas Golf Hall of Fame in 2012. Beyond a competitive outlet, the game is a perfect metaphor for his life — social, congenial and set to an honor code of resolute personal behavior and ethics by which he is known in all other endeavors.  

 

Dr. John Moore Jr.

 

“Mack is a true Southern gentleman and an amazing, caring, knowledgeable doctor,” says Ellon Cockrell, a friend of Moore’s for 40 years. “Everybody adores Mack.” 

 

It can well be assumed that having read this much of the story, Moore is starting to fidget. He’s proud of what his career has done to improve health care in Arkansas, he just doesn’t like it underscored publicly as anything unique or special.  

 

But that’s an uneasiness he’s having to get used to of late. Moore’s lifetime contribution to the field of urology in Arkansas will be feted this month at the Silver Ball, a gala celebrating the 25th anniversary of Arkansas Urology, the practice Moore helped found and grow. Proceeds from the event will go to a fund named for him, managed through the Arkansas Urology Foundation. 

 

“When we started having discussions about establishing a fund, he was the first on the list to name it after,” says Cockrell, the foundation’s first chair. “Not only is he a founding member [of AU], he’s still active in the community. He makes himself accessible, and he still can give you great information and advice on how to maneuver your medical journey.” 

 

The new fund will underwrite outreach efforts and special events to promote men’s health statewide. Mostly, though, it will stand for all time in honor of a man who has changed for the better the lives of so many. 

 

“My reaction to this being named after me was, ‘This is a lot of fuss over me, and it shouldn’t be,’” Moore says, an impish grin rounding into a chuckle. “It’s not about me, really. I just lived long enough, so I guess I was chosen because I was accessible.” 

 

He then pauses, and his eyes shine. 

 

“It makes me feel very humbled,” Moore adds, quietly. “It makes me feel a great deal of self-satisfaction.” 

 

* * * * * *

 

Mack Moore decided on medical school as a young boy. After hearing his father talk about how he’d wished he had gone into medicine — settling instead for becoming a successful businessman and community leader — the younger Moore made up his mind to become a physician and that was that. 

 

“I’m an only child, and as I like to say, a spoiled one,” he says. “Dad was a wonderful guy, and he shared with me that he had wanted to be a doctor but the Depression hit at that time, and he could not afford to go to school that long.

 

“I respected my dad so much, I know I was influenced by his wanting to be a doctor. That planted a seed in the back of my mind. Because of that, I did pay a little more attention to my early schooling than I would have otherwise.” 

 

Moore might have cracked the books with more intent, but he was also popular and liked to have a good time. Voted president of his high school senior class, he reported to Ouachita Baptist for his freshman year on a golf scholarship, transferring to Fayetteville a year later.  

 

“I applied for medical school, was accepted, and you could go to medical school in those days after just 90 hours of preparation,” Moore says. “But I said, ‘Heck, I’ll never be a senior in college again. I’m going to stay for that experience,’ and that’s what I did. I decided to postpone it a year.” 

 

As all aspiring physicians must, Moore would eventually give thought as to what type of medicine he wanted to practice. He weighed several options while serving an internship at the University of Miami in Florida, selected because, “I thought I could get a good education and have a good time doing it,” he says. 

 

Sandwiched between school and sun was a bout with kidney stones. Moore was so impressed by the care he received through that ordeal, he made urology his focus. 

 

“At the same time, one of my close friends in medical school, Johnson Baker, told me he was going into urology,” Moore says. “We always teased each other that we’d go in practice together, and it looked like this might be a possibility. So that’s what kind of got me on the track.”  

 

These days, urological conditions such as prostate and testicular cancer and erectile dysfunction are much more publicly discussed than they were in 1970s Arkansas where Moore first began his life’s work. Well-worn generational statistics show men have always been loath to talk about health issues, especially those emanating from the body’s distal end. But while it might have been a challenge to get men in the door, then as now, once there Moore worked a singular magic.  

 

“I’m a gregarious guy, and I don’t have any trouble talking to people,” he says. “I knew the only thing I needed to do was make a patient comfortable and make him aware that I was interested in his well-being. I was going to be transparent with him about what we were going to do and why we were doing it, and I was going to respect him.” 

 

* * * * * *

 

 

In time, Moore would join several colleagues to form Arkansas Urology as a way to increase their reach and resources for treating patients. Over the next 25 years, the practice expanded greatly, today operating multiple clinics statewide and treating more than 100,000 patients annually. Though he’s been retired from active practice for a while now, Moore’s legacy continues to carry forward, says Chris Shenep, director of the AU Foundation and marketing at Arkansas Urology.  

 

“From the start, the whole practice was founded on the precept that we’re here to serve people,” he says. “Mack said more than once his friends were always his patients, and his patients were always his friends. That’s a very relevant line, because that’s just how great of a bedside manner and personal approach that he had to his practice. 

 

“His networking across the state in terms of friends and colleagues and what he did as a physician laid the groundwork for what we do today. The money we raise through the Silver Ball and afterward allows us to remember that and honor him through those funds for years to come.” 

 

Moore says for as much as technology has given the science of health care, it’s also taken in equal measure from the art of healing. Now 84, he enjoys the fact that the practice he helped launch is continuing his personal belief in the value of humanity in medicine. 

 

“I don’t like it when people come in and get a biopsy and the doctor says, ‘My nurse will call you in two weeks to let you know the results,’” he says. “The physician needs to be on the other end of the phone or be standing in front of the patient so they can answer their questions and allay their fears and handle things.

 

“I would like to see present-day doctor education stress the human side — looking people in the eye, doing your dead-level best to respect the patient’s time. It’s the human touch that I don’t want to see us get too far away from in medicine.”  

 

READ MORE: Faces of Arkansas: The Face of Urology, Arkansas Urology