Beloved researcher Royall Moore’s gift to fund future fungi scholars

By John Carberry

Royall Moore
Royall Moore

He’s remembered as a dedicated mycologist, a generous brother and a “sweet and down-to-earth” mentor—and now the late Royall Tyler Moore will be remembered by generations of Cornell students as the man who helped make their future in the study of fungi possible.

Moore, an Ithaca-area native who worked as a post-doctoral researcher at Cornell in the 1960s, died Aug. 17, 2014, at age 83 in Northern Ireland. He bequeathed almost $500,000 to his former academic home to support graduate study in mycology, the study of fungi. The gift will be administered through the Section of Plant Pathology and Plant-Microbe Biology of the School of Integrative Plant Science.

“This was his legacy, what he wanted,” said his brother Kent Moore BFA ’63. “He loved it, and his idea was that the study of mycology might continue to benefit mankind.”

A graduate of Michigan State College and Harvard University, Moore never received a degree from Cornell, although he came from a family of Cornellians. His mother, Frances Goodnough ’25, studied English, and his father, Ulric Moore ’25, earned a degree in dramatics and a doctorate in 1931. Younger brother Kent Moore earned his bachelor’s in fine arts and is now an artist living and working in Ithaca.

“It just blew me away,” said Kathie Hodge, associate professor of mycology and, since 2011, a digital pen pal of Moore’s. “In his field, he was great, he was a pro. And he was just sweet and down-to-earth.”

Moore pursued chemistry as an undergrad at Michigan State College, then began graduate work on the taxonomy of fungi at the University of Iowa, followed by post-docs at Cornell and the University of California, Berkeley. In 1972, he accepted a post at Ulster University at Coleraine, Northern Ireland. There, Hodge said, in Northern Ireland’s famously fungi-friendly weather, Moore built his academic legacy as a careful and steadfast chronicler of new fungi, their structure and their classification.