Darla Moore

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Darla Moore
Born Darla Dee Moore
(1954-08-01) August 1, 1954 (age 60)
Lake City, South Carolina
Alma mater University of South Carolina
George Washington University
Occupation Financier, Philanthropist

Darla Dee Moore (born August 1, 1954) is a partner of the private investment firm Rainwater, Inc, and is married to Richard Rainwater, who founded the firm.

She is a pioneering woman in the banking industry and a benefactor to many institutions in her home state of South Carolina.

Life and career[edit]

Early life[edit]

Moore was born in Lake City, South Carolina, to Eugene and Loraine Moore. She was one of two daughters and was born on a farm that produced cotton, soybean, and tobacco. Many credit her success and dedication later in life to her early years on the farm, which most likely would have included much hard work. She was an exceedingly ambitious girl and often stretched beyond society’s typical standards for girls of that time. She was pushed to become the best she could be and to reach out to achieve her goals in life. Her father, in particular, was a true inspiration to her.[1] In 1972, Darla Moore completed her high school education from Lake City High school. She then continued to pursue her goals by achieving higher education.[2] She graduated from the University of South Carolina in 1975 with a BA in Political Science. After school, she worked for the Republican National Committee in Washington, DC.

The Beginning of Her Career[edit]

In 1981, Moore received an MBA from George Washington University and joined other MBAs at the Chemical Bank’s training program. To add to this accomplishment, Moore successfully completely her MBA from George Washington University just three years after graduating from the University of South Carolina.[3] During the 1980s, Moore made a name for herself while providing debtor-in-possession financing for companies going through the bankruptcy process. In fact, she specialized in “bankruptcy takeovers” for the company. Moore’s ability to take control of a debt situation is one of the many facets that has led to her extreme success. For example, in 1996 after running the company that he founded into deep financial trouble, T. Boone Pickens was removed by Moore as the head of Mesa Inc, which mainly dealt with the production of oil and natural gasses. Once in control, she then proceeded to make a profit off the company after investing a total of 66 million dollars.[4] Because of Darla’s success, she received more money than any woman ever had in this industry. Because of her ambitions and achievements, she was recognized for her hard work in many well-respected media outlets including Forbes Fortune, Working Woman, Worth, Wall Street Journal, and CNN.[5] Through these outlets her ambition has been made clear, as her cover on Fortune magazine called her “The Toughest Babe in Business”.[6]

Marriage and Later Career[edit]

It was on a personal business trip to Texas that Darla Moore met Richard Rainwater.[7] In 1991, they were married in New York City on Park Avenue’s Brick City Presbyterian Church.[8] She was named president of Rainwater, Inc, in 1993. However before Moore was named president of the company, she originally served as vice president during the early stages of her marriage to Rainwater.[9] Although already extremely wealthy and well established at the time of the marriage, Richard Rainwater’s net worth was practically tripled due to his marriage to Darla Moore, who at the time was already making more money than most other investors in the industry.[10] That net worth is 1.5 billion dollars.[11] Fortune Magazine named Moore one of the 50 Most Powerful Women In Business in 1998[12] and 1999. Moore is credited with increasing the Rainwater family fortune and also dismissing future Florida Governor Rick Scott from Columbia/HCA when a medicare related scandal broke.[13] Scott and Mr. Rainwater were partners in the Texas Rangers baseball team with Texas Governor George W. Bush. Additionally in 1998, Moore was presented with the Order of the Palmetto, which is the most coveted award for any resident of South Carolina.[14] This displays her success and power, which can be attributed to her attitude as a young girl. Moore’s success stories have established her as both cutthroat and knowledgeable. A 1997 article in CNN Money by Patricia Sellers states: “To get a picture of Darla Moore, imagine, say, a cross between the Terminator and Kim Basinger, with a wicked South Carolina drawl. Upon first meeting, she can come across as a prima donna, tough and aloof. As she warms up she can turn fun and flirty, even girlish, though the shift is deceptive.” [15]

Darla Moore spends most her time in Lake City in a house built on a plantation that has been in the Moore family for six generations. The couple also owns homes in New York City, Folsom, California and Charleston, South Carolina.

Ms. Moore and Mr. Rainwater have essentially lived separately since 2001, she in South Carolina, he in Texas and California. In March 2011 a court declared him incapacitated as a result of his battle with progressive supranuclear palsy (PSP), and his youngest child, Matthew, became his legal guardian. As his illness progressed Mr. Rainwater's primary caregiver was his brother Walter until around the clock nursing care became necessary.[16] This was due to the fact that because of his disease, Rainwater began to require 24-hour care. The disease could lead to many complications that can be life-threatening like pneumonia and issues swallowing, but the disease itself is not actually life-threatening despite the growing need for care.[17] Supranuclear palsy is a rare disease, but it is one that has brought much struggle into the life of Moore as she attempted to balance her career life and her husband’s growing health care needs.[18] In 2003, Darla Moore gave ten million dollars to Clemson University’s school of education. In return, the school of education at the university was renamed for Darla’s father, who was both a teacher and principal himself, as well as a farm system baseball player for the Philadelphia Phillies and a member of the Army. More specifically, Moore’s father spent his time as a teacher and principal upon returning to Lake City, leaving Darla further connected to her home town.[18] Moore’s father was also a graduate of Clemson University, further influencing her choice to donate to the school.[9] In 2007, Darla Moore received the honor of being inducted into the South Carolina Business Hall of Fame. This incredible achievement demonstrates how important and revered she is in this state.[19]

In 2011, Gov. Nikki Haley removed Darla Moore from the University of South Carolina board. Moore was replaced with Tommy Cofield.[20] [21] In reaction to this setback, Darla Moore stated with poise, “I don't need a title or position to speak out. I just need a voice, my vision and a forum to be heard…”.[22] This statement demonstrates Moore’s dedication to serving her community and standing strong in the face of adversity. She responded to this setback with class and in such a way that did not tarnish her character. During this upsetting time, she used her ability to persuade to convince Governor Haley and the South Carolina state Congress to match her donation of five million dollars to a new aerospace center at the University of South Carolina. However, she made sure that the center was named in honor of Dr. Ronald McNair, who died aboard the Space Shuttle Challenger mission of 1986 and was originally from the city of Lake City, South Carolina.[22]

In 2012, Moore and former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice became the first two female members of Augusta National Golf Club.[23][24] Before becoming an actual member of the Augusta National Golf club, the thought of Moore becoming the first female to be invited to join had been pondered on for five years. Prior to her invitation, Moore was known to have a friendship with one of the former chairmen of Augusta, Hootie Johnson. [8] It was her husband, Richard Rainwater, who originally introduced Moore to the game of golf, after they first met in the early 1990s.[8] Moore has described her excitement to join the club in a statement to The New York Times, stating “I am honored to have accepted an invitation to join Augusta National Golf Club...Augusta National has always captured my imagination, and is one of the most magically beautiful places in the world, as everyone gets to see during the Masters each April. I am fortunate to have many friends who are members at Augusta National, so to be asked to join them as a member represents a very happy and important occasion in my life. Above all, Augusta National and the Masters tournament have always stood for excellence, and that is what is so important to me. I am extremely grateful for this privilege”.[18]

In addition to being one of the most successful investors in the world, Moore enjoys a plethora of other activities outside of the business world. Her hobbies include being a collector, mostly looking for 18th-century French furniture and rare books. In addition, Moore enjoyed riding with her husband in his 1957 Chevy, the fastest streetcar, before his illness began.[13]


Moore has given many gifts to institutions that benefit the public. Most notable are her donations to her alma mater, the University of South Carolina, which combined constitute nearly a record breaking amount for a private donation to a business school.[25] This school of business has participated in many honorable and noteworthy projects including projects that promote a net-zero energy usage of the building for the school. Wal-Mart has even allowed the school of business to collaborate with them for research on sustainability [26] Some of her gifts include:

  • 1998 — $25 million to the business school at the University of South Carolina, which renamed it the Moore School of Business;[27] In addition to the Moore School of Business at the University of South Carolina, Moore also has a summer business program and camp called the Wachovia Scholars Business for high school students to attend.[28]
  • 2002 — Founded the Palmetto Institute, an independent non-profit organization focused on increasing the wealth of every person in South Carolina; In addition to the Moore School of Business at the University of South Carolina, Moore also has a summer business program and camp called the Wachovia Scholars Business for high school students to attend.[29]
  • 2003 — $10 million to the School of Education at Clemson University; the university has renamed the school the Eugene T. Moore School of Education in honor of her father, a Clemson alumnus and former teacher, coach, and principal in Lake City;[30] Darla Moore’s generous gift to Clemson’s education program and the legacy of her father pushed for the start of a Creative Inquiry Program at Clemson University in the fall of 2013 called the Moore Scholars Program. The purpose of this program is for education students at Clemson University to participate in case studies and research regarding underprivileged schools and students. This program strives to prepare education students who are accepted to face the hardships of the teaching profession and bring every child to his full potential. This program includes an Immersive Summer experience for each year in the program. Year one includes hosting an arts and digital media camp for middle-school students at Clemson University. Year two includes conducting research and being immersed in a home stay situation in the low country of South Carolina, known as the Corridor of Shame. The final year includes a summer experience similar to the second year, but in an urban area of South Carolina.
  • 2005 — an additional $45 million to the Moore School of Business;[31]
  • 2011 — $5 million to the McNair Center for Aerospace Innovation and Research Center at the University of South Carolina;[32][33]
  • 2012 - $1 Million to Claflin University Music Department [34] When giving this award so generously, Darla Moore stated, “This is an investment, and with investments, you not only expect a return, you do your homework up front to ensure you get a solid return. This is what I desire with my investment- the opportunity to open the door to success to as many young people as possible.” This quote demonstrates Darla Moore’s heart. It displays her desire for all students to succeed and achieve their dreams, whether that it is in the field of the arts, such as with this university, or in science and engineering with her grant to the McNair Center for Aerospace Innovation and Research Center [35]
Claflin University Donation
  • 2013 - Undisclosed amount - ArtFields Art Festival (anticipated to be an annual event celebrating artists in the Southeastern states) in her hometown of Lake City, South Carolina


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