Live long enough, and the tally of life seems to balance out — all the pain and sorrow matched by joys and high points.
The optimists find more pleasures. Pessimists more regrets.
Dick and Marcia Moe of Tacoma’s North End are a couple with long resumes, but even with a list of their accomplishments in the Northwest, there have been crushing personal calamities.
Unless you ask them.
“Everything in my life turned into something positive,” said Marcia, 75. “When it seemed bad, I moved on and made it work.”
“I saw a drug deal in my community,” Marcia said. “I decided to bring a Farmers Market to downtown Tacoma, and in 1990, Norma Honeysett and I got it started.”
Dick Moe, 87, seems almost universally beloved — a dean of one department or another for 30 years at Pacific Lutheran University, a patron of the arts, a community activist.
“I’ve tried to live my life with gratitude,” he said. “In 87 years, I’ve had only one regret, really ...”
That was the night of Dec. 8, 1977.
Moe came home about 6 p.m. to find Lila, his wife of 26 years, tied to their bed, badly beaten, a bloody golf club nearby. She was alive, but died en route to a hospital.
Five months later, a jury found two men — neighbors of the Moes — guilty of murder in the course of a burglary that Lila had interrupted.
“How did I deal with Lila’s death? With good friends, colleagues at PLU, with my family,” Dick said. “I was totally surrounded by caring, thoughtful people.
“That, and I had so many happy memories of our lives together. I had a feeling of gratitude.”
At the time, Marcia Pinto was a divorced mother of two, teaching at Annie Wright School. A dancer so talented that at 15 she left Tacoma to perform the Royal Ballet in London, she was on the cusp of a professional dance career there.
“I realized it was a small field, and saw what roles I’d be eligible for, what companies I might qualify for,” Marcia said. “I had a moment of truth after being offered a job in London.
“I was 17 and I’d focused so totally on dance, I hadn’t gone to movies or the mall with friends. It was all dance. I thought I’d better come home, finish high school, go to college.”
In 1961, she graduated from the University of Puget Sound and began teaching. There were dance opportunities she seized, and for four years she served as choreographer for the Seattle Opera.
Oddly enough, she met Dick Moe in the late ’60s, when they were both part of a successful effort to bring the Joffrey Ballet for a visit to PLU. He was dean of the school of arts then, and Marcia spent time with both him and Lila.
After Lila’s death, when Dick and Marcia met again at one community gathering or another, he felt something that had been dormant for months come to life.
Six months after Lila’s death, Dick and Marcia began to see one another socially.
Dick fell in love. Marcia kept putting up road blocks.
“Everyone loved Dick. I wasn’t going to be the one to make him unhappy,” she said.
“When Dick first asked me to marry him, he’d been taken care of by his mother, then his wife, Lila. So I asked him, ‘Can you even iron a shirt?’” Marcia said.
“He hired a young woman at PLU to teach him how to iron, then called me. He said, “I can iron now. Will you marry me?’”
Dick had only dated Lila before he met Marcia, so she suggested he date others.
“I took a woman to lunch, came back and called Marcia,” Dick said. “I said, ‘OK, I’ve dated. Can we get married now?’”
Dick asked more than 20 times. Finally, Marcia agreed and they were married in September 1979.
Between them, they had four children, then eight grandchildren. For 20 years, their lives were filled with family and with community projects, from the League of Women Voters to the American Leadership Forum.
And they both were nearly killed in a 1999 traffic accident.
“We were driving north from Portland on I-5 and a car came across the median and hit us head on,” Dick said. “I broke my neck, and the ignition key was driven into my knee. Marcia was worse.”
She was in the backseat, wearing a seatbelt around her waist.
“My intestines were broken in five places,” Marcia said. “I was helicoptered to Portland, Dick was taken to a hospital in Washington. They thought I was going to die.”
Their injuries took years of rehabilitation.
Marcia views it as a positive.
“Every day since the accident is a bonus,” Marcia said. “We’ve had 16 bonus years together, so far.”