Terminally Ill Utah Father Dies Leaving Thousands Inspired by His Emotional Message
"I'm glad there's been an end to his pain, but the void he leaves is painful," Paul Moore's brother, Joel Moore, tells PEOPLE
A Utah man who inspired thousands with his bravery and love for life after learning he had cancer throughout his body has died.
Paul Moore, 36, who was profiled by PEOPLE last November and was the inspiration behind the Paul Moore Foundation to help other parents facing terminal diseases, died quietly at his home in Farmington on March 5, surrounded by family and with his wife, Joni, holding his hand.
“My heart is heavy as the reality of this world without my little brother in it sinks in this morning,” Joel Moore, 39, who is Paul’s brother, tells PEOPLE. “I couldn’t have asked for a better brother and friend. I’m glad there’s been an end to his pain, but the void he leaves is painful.”
Paul, who was the father of two young daughters, Ellie, 6, and Reese, 3, lived slightly more than a year after an emergency room visit for what he thought was a pulled muscle revealed that he had more than 40 tumors throughout his body, including his brain. Additional tests revealed that he had terminal renal cell carcinoma, which had seeped into his bones.
“It was devastating,” Paul, a former human resources manager, told PEOPLE in November. “My first thoughts were about my family. Who would provide for them? What would happen to them? I couldn’t think about anything else.”
Friends and neighbors in his Mormon congregation stepped up to help in a way that will continue to make an impact in Paul’s name. After starting the Paul Moore Foundation, they raised raised more than $40,000 through a 5k race and silent auction to help the Moores. A GoFundMe account brought in an additional $50,000 to help pay off medical bills from multiple surgeries.
“Paul is leaving a legacy for a great cause to help families like his,” Ashlyn Chugg, president of the foundation, tells PEOPLE. “But the greatest legacy he leaves behind is his love for his wife and daughters.”
After Paul learned there was nothing more he could do to fight cancer, he decided to make his remaining months matter. He recorded himself reading favorite bedtime stories such as Goodnight Moon, and wrote emotional letters to his daughters, telling them to be humble, loving and kind.
“It was difficult, but I wanted to give them some lessons to take through life so they’ll know who I am, even though I won’t be here,” he told PEOPLE.
He and Joni spent the past year taking the girls on simple outings to the park and the local swimming pool, along with stays at nearby hotels so they could jump on the beds with abandon and feel as though they were on vacation.
In recent months, with Paul too weak to stand for more than a few minutes at a time, he spent most of his time in a recliner, reflecting on the goodness in his life and saying goodbye to friends and loved ones.
“I think everyone who met him would agree that you could talk to him about anything and his sense of humor never wavered,” Erin Jemison, 38, Paul’s sister-in-law, tells PEOPLE. “We are so grateful for the time we had with him. But there is a hole now that will never be filled.”
“He was funny, accepting, loving and true,” adds Joel Moore. “There are so many ways that he brought joy to people. I feel like I could start listing them and never stop.”
Paul’s funeral will be held March 11 at his church in Farmington, where hundreds are expected to turn out to show their appreciation for his life. They’ll remember Paul’s positive outlook, says Ashlyn, along with the message he shared with PEOPLE last fall:
“I could sit here and be depressed, but what good can come from that?” Paul said. “I’m grateful for all that I’ve been blessed with. I feel love and support each and every day. Each and every day, I am humbled.”