Umpqua Shooting

A Capacity For Love: Remembering Sarena Moore

By Amelia Templeton (OPB)
Oct. 9, 2015 9:21 p.m.
A circle of rocks with the names of victims front of the memorial.

A circle of rocks with the names of victims front of the memorial.

John Rosman / OPB

Sarena Moore, 44, was in her third semester at Umpqua Community College studying business.  

What defined her, friends and family said, was her incredible capacity for love and her infectious positive attitude.  

"She had a caring heart that was bigger than life itself," her family wrote in a statement.

"She was a devoted mother and a prayer warrior," said Alta Austin, the secretary of the Grants Pass Seventh Day Adventist Church, which Moore attended. "A very kind hearted person."

Moore was born July 8, 1971. She spent part of her childhood in Yamhill, Oregon and attended elementary school there, according to the Yamhill Valley News Register.  

As a young girl, she adored horses. From the age of 6, she practiced gymnastics on horseback and raised money to help people with disabilities ride, according to her family.  

As an adult, Moore lived in Nevada and spent time volunteering with a homeless shelter and with the Special Olympics. She was married twice, and raised three sons.  

She became a member of the Seventh Day Adventist Church in Northern California in 2005, and moved to Grants Pass shortly after.

Members of the Grants Pass Seventh Day Adventist Church say Moore often asked them to pray on behalf of other people, and that she loved animals.

"She would pick up any stray, people or animals, and take it in," said Austin.

Moore had enrolled at Umpqua community college to become more self-sufficient and to better herself, according to her family.

Moore used a wheelchair due to sciatica and was aided by a service dog. Her dog survived the massacre at Umpqua Community College.

The Seventh Day Adventist Churches in Grants Pass and Myrtle Creek have both held memorial services for Moore.

Her grieving family includes her three adult sons, Walter, Kenneth, and Michael Dickens, her parents Robert and Pamela Goin, and brother, Rick Goin, and her partner, Travis Dow.

"There are some that believe that had Sarena known her shooter, she would have cared for him as much as she does everyone else," her family said in a statement.

Dan Jackson, president of the North American Division of the Seventh Day Adventist Church, said the church is heartbroken.

"We pray for the day when children and adults can attend school without fear," he said.

"We pray for the day when, as the Prophet Isaiah promises, 'They will beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks. Nation will not take up sword against nation, nor will they train for war anymore.'"