WORTHINGTON — During the 24 years in which Gordon Moore called Worthington home, he ran in the King Turkey Day 10K, walked the parade route as a youth hockey supporter and band dad, and drove Edie Jensen’s canary yellow Plymouth Prowler as she sat in the passenger seat waving at the crowd.
On Saturday, Moore added one more event to the list. He stood on the main stage at the intersection of Worthington’s 10th Street and Fourth Avenue to deliver the 2021 King Turkey Day address.
It was a little over a year ago that the former Nobles County Attorney and Fifth Judicial District Court judge left Worthington to join the Minnesota Supreme Court as its newly appointed associate justice. While his education and dedication to the judicial system positioned him for the role, it was his experiences in Worthington that shaped his journey to St. Paul.
“My wife and I raised our family in Worthington, and we took full advantage of the opportunities that come from being a part of a connected community. From youth sports and local community theater to serving on civic organizations, church committees and the local school board,” Moore shared. “We were here as Worthington transitioned as a community — seeing a change and growth in the diversity of its population, businesses and culture.
“This transformation was not without its challenges, but Worthington is a stronger, resilient and resolved community because of this journey,” he added.
A native of Rochester, Moore spent nearly his entire career working in the justice system in Greater Minnesota. When he moved to Worthington in 1995, it was to join the firm of Von Holtum, Malters & Shepherd. After seven years, he was elected Nobles County Attorney, and re-elected another two times, ultimately completing nine years in the role before being appointed by Gov. Mark Dayton to serve as a District Court Judge in Nobles County. Eight and a half years later, it was another governor — Tim Walz — who appointed Moore to the Minnesota Supreme Court.
“Judges should reflect the values of their communities and understand the challenges facing the people,” Moore said. “When Gov. Walz selected me, he went outside the norm — he went to Greater, Greater Minnesota. I bring a perspective from a community the court hasn’t seen reflected in a long time.
“I went from a one judge county to working with six of the smartest people I’ve ever been in the same room with,” he said. “What prepared me most for this change was my time in Worthington. What I experienced here — the willingness to work hard, collaborate, the broad range of cases, the relationships with my team and justice partners, living in a diverse and connected community — I carry with me in my work and my service to the citizens of Minnesota.”
While Moore acknowledged that the last thing people may want to hear before the Great Gobbler Gallop is a civics lesson on the court system, he also said he’d be remiss if he didn’t speak on the important role of the courts in Minnesota.
“The breadth and depth of the justice system is not always known, let alone understood,” he said. “And the decisions that are made by the courts can fundamentally change the lives of those who come before us.”
He spoke of the three branches of government and the importance of separation of powers, why courts are needed and their role in America. He also talked about the role of a judge and public trust in the judicial system.
During his time in Worthington, Moore said he was supported by the community in ways that he can never repay. And that brought him back to his reflections on King Turkey Day.
“It’s the (turkey) race that draws us here, but it’s the connection to this community that brings us back,” he said. “Community is more than a location. It’s a connection that runs deep in Worthington. From the fourth generation farmer to the first generation immigrant, everyone takes great pride in the schools, culture, economy, recreation and opportunities here.
“Worthington is unified in its commitment to thrive, to work hard, to collaborate, to support, to rise up, to solve challenges,” he added. “Those unifying characteristics are a part of who I am because of the time I spent here.”