Legacy: Judy and Richard Mooers were dedicated to their community
This summer, Nevada County lost two public servants — a newspaper woman and a deputy — people who dedicated their lives to their community.
Former The Union Managing Editor Judy Mooers died June 23. She was 80 years old. Her husband Richard “Dick” Mooers, a former Nevada County deputy, died August 25 after battling cancer, at 85 years old.
The legacy they left in the Sierra Foothills extends beyond The Union archives to two sons — Jeff Carman, former fire chief for the Contra Costa County Fire Protection District; and Steve Carman, of Carman and Associates Fire Investigation.
Judy Mooers left high school before her secondary education was completed, married and had her first child at 16, Steve Carman explained, making her professional ascent from The Union typist to the paper’s first female managing editor that much more impressive.
Steve Carman said his mother became a typist for the Nevada County Nugget newspaper after leaving her dispatch job at the Nevada County Sheriff’s Department under Sheriff Wayne Brown, where she had met Deputy Dick Mooers. Her remarriage in 1968 came after three years of providing for her sons as a single mother.
“At the time two people from the same family could not work in the same office,” Steve Carman explained.
Eventually, Judy Mooers went to The Union, where she continued her public service as an arbiter of community news. Carman said his mother typed quickly, but her charisma and passion were the real value she brought to The Union and the community, so she flexed into different positions at the paper as needed.
“She was a helluva typist — 120 words a minute on a manual typewriter,” Steve Carman said. “In a year or two, they recognized that she had a lot of talent doing different things.”
After a stint as “the pay stub girl,” a title she always laughed at, Steve Carman said, she began to write.
At first she covered weddings and obituaries, but eventually Judy Mooers became the beat reporter for all things county and government-related.
She forged personal connections to the community, including Sharon Boivin of the Planning Department, and Cathy Thompson, clerk of the Board of Supervisors.
“People just really seemed to like her,” Steve Carman said.
When Union Publisher Jack Moorhead promoted Judy to managing editor, he “pretty much gave her carte blanche,” Steve Carman said.
Retired Nevada County Superior Court Judge Al Dover said Judy Mooers’s leadership ability was evident in the way she conducted herself and how she made people feel.
“If you needed someone to go in and take over a small country, you need Judy Mooers,” Dover said. “She had all the resources, strength, personality and great sense of humor — all the tools to be an effective board member and effective editor.”
Dover eventually served on the FREED Center for Independent Living Board with Judy Mooers, but remembers her first as an authentic, “accessible” and responsible arbiter of news.
“She did a fabulous job as editor and so much of that was because she grew up here,” Dover said. “She always had her fingers on the pulse of the community in a way that really made a difference in terms of the choices an editor would make in terms of what you would cover.”
Dover said he met her husband Dick Mooers first. A recent Tucson transplant with a budding career as a defense attorney, Dover said that his first memory of him was characterized by playful banter, which, in contrast to his appearance, was disarming.
“I met Dick and we were up in the courthouse in the jury room and I said, ‘I’m going to the jail to interview my client,” Dover said. “He said, ‘Oh, we don’t allow that here.’”
Indignant and serious, Dover said he pressed Dick Mooers, mindful of the man’s imposing figure — tall, large and uniformed, punctuated by a flattop haircut.
“Then he couldn’t contain himself and burst out laughing,” Dover said. “That’s who he was for me and we hit it off after that.”
Dover said Dick maintained that sense of humor as the two of them were promoted in their respective career paths.
“He was an innovative and wonderful person to work with — personally and professionally, with a terrific sense of humor,” Dover said.
Former Fire Chief and son Jeff Carman said his father’s commitment to public safety combined with his mother’s keen interest in government and civil service helped shape their children’s career path.
“My brother and I were destined to become public servants in one form or another,” Jeff Carman said.
Rebecca O’Neil is a staff writer for The Union. She can be reached at email@example.com.
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