The University of South Carolina’s biggest benefactor made her fortune on Wall Street, but she never forgot her roots in a Pee Dee farming community.
How could she.
Her Southern style – being tough, yet feminine in the mold of Scarlett O’Hara – helped make her a star of leveraged buyouts and the first woman on the cover of Fortune magazine. She would marry Richard Rainwater, one of the wealthiest Americans, and become one of the first two women members of the famed Augusta National golf club.
But she has become known for working to improve her home state’s struggles with income and education.
Moore created a nonprofit, the Palmetto Institute, to bolster South Carolina’s economic quality of life. She donated $11 million to Clemson University and Claflin University.
“I determined, after a long time here, that if you want to make a real impact on peoples’ lives and an economy that you’ve got to do it yourself,” she said.
Her alma mater has received much of attention and money. Moore has donated more than $75 million to USC – enough to guide the design of the school’s most-expensive project, the $106.5 million ultra-green building for the business school named after her.
Now she’s about her helping her hometown. Moore started an arts festival in Lake City and pushed to redevelop the downtown and revamp area schools. “You’ve got to focus on having your impact locally,” Moore said, “or you’re wasting your money and your time.”