Loyal friend of LU and former Thomas Nelson Publishers CEO leaves lasting legacy
Sam Ziady Moore, who served as president of Thomas Nelson Publishers for nearly 47 years and was one of Liberty University’s earliest supporters, died on Friday, June 1, at age 88.
Liberty president Jerry Falwell and his wife, Becki, attended the funeral visitation at Covenant Presbyterian Church in Nashville on Wednesday.
Deryl Edwards, Liberty's director of advancement operations and analytics, called Moore "a pioneer in Christian publishing" and said Moore was instrumental in the growth and funding of the university. When Liberty was just forming, Thomas Nelson provided Bibles and Christian books as gifts to tens of thousands of people who financially supported Liberty.
"They meant a lot to those who supported our school in the very beginning, and we appreciate the stand that Sam Moore took over the years in spreading the Gospel,” Edwards said.
Duke Westover, a member of Liberty’s Board of Trustees who served as executive assistant to Liberty’s founder, Dr. Jerry Falwell, for nearly 35 years, said Moore and Falwell were “dear, dear friends.”
“Sam Moore’s legacy touched millions of people through the publishing of the Bible and books by other pastors, including Billy Graham. Thomas Nelson published most all of Jerry Falwell’s early books and those he offered over television for donations, including dozens of reference books,” Westover said.
Westover added that Moore had a positive effect on the lives of everyone he encountered: “He just loved people, and he loved the Bible, and he loved God.”
Westover last visited Moore and his wife, Peggy, at their home in February. “He was in great spirits, and he and I sat and talked about old times with Dr. Jerry Falwell.”
President Falwell said Moore was a true example of a Champion for Christ, impacting the world through his profession.
“Sam and Peggy Moore were among my parents’ best friends," he recalls. "I remember them vacationing in Acapulco together in the 1970s, and my parents almost always vacationed within driving distance. Sam Moore’s company even awarded me a scholarship to cover my tuition at the University of Virginia Law School in the 1980s.
"As a young man, I was always encouraged by Sam Moore to do great things," Falwell continued. "He wanted Liberty University to succeed in the next generation, and he bolstered my confidence in ways that nobody else could. I respected him greatly because of his success in business. When I began working as an attorney for Liberty, Sam helped Liberty survive when it was struggling financially in the 1990s by forgiving debt that Liberty owed his company in the 7 figures.
"When a competing publisher won the rights to publish my father’s autobiography by paying Dad one of the first $1 million advances in history in 1987, I remember Sam saying he didn’t mind losing the business because he was happy to see $1 million transferred from the other publisher, a secular company, to his good friend, Jerry Falwell. He and Dad had much in common — they were both geniuses when it came to business, and they also both loved people. We will all greatly miss Sam."
Moore’s obituary states that he was “a devoted husband, father, grandfather, great-grandfather, mentor, friend and prominent businessman,” who “loved his family, friends, former employees and associates. He was a proud American and loved the freedom his chosen country provides to all its citizens.”
Moore was born Oct. 25, 1929, in Beirut, Lebanon, and immigrated to the United States in 1950. He attended Columbia International Bible College and the University of South Carolina, working his way through school by selling Bibles door-to-door. He founded National Book Publishers in 1958 and incorporated Royal Publishers in 1961 before purchasing Thomas Nelson Publishers in 1969. Under his leadership, Thomas Nelson became the largest publisher of Christian books and Bibles in the world, publishing the New King James Version of the Bible in 1983.