VALPARAISO — Roderick "Rod" Moore, who had served as Valparaiso University's head athletic trainer for nearly 50 years, was found dead Wednesday after wandering away from his Valparaiso-area home more than a week ago and igniting a search by officials, family and friends.
Moore, who suffered from dementia, was found in a marsh east of the Heritage Valley subdivision along U.S. 30, not far from his Center Township home, his family said.
He had left his home shortly before 8 p.m. June 30.
"Our hearts are broken right now," daughter-in-law Kelsey Moore said on behalf of the family. "This certainly isn’t the outcome that we had hoped for. Even so, we are grateful to know he has been found and that we can properly lay him to rest. Rod lived a wonderful, full life and was loved by so many.
"We can’t even begin to express our thanks to our friends, family and community for their love, support and efforts to help us bring Rod home. We would also like to thank the Porter County Sheriff’s Office, Porter County Search and Rescue, and the rest of the local law enforcement community for all their efforts and for ultimately recovering him. We rest knowing we did all that we could."
The Porter County Sheriff's Office said the cause of death is under investigation, but no foul play is suspected.
An autopsy is scheduled to determine the cause of death, according to the Porter County coroner's office.
The coroner's office said it was notified about the discovery of the body shortly after 9:30 a.m. Wednesday.
"We ask that you keep the Moore family in your thoughts and prayers," Porter County police said.
Moore retired in September 2016 from the job at Valparaiso University that he had held since 1967. He said at the time he intended to continue assisting the Crusaders and hoped to return to high school basketball officiating.
"This gives me a chance to do other things,” Moore said at the time of his retirement. "There’s a lot you can’t do when you’re working a 90-hour week. It takes time away from the family. I’m looking to do more with the family, the grandkids especially. I’ll still be around."
Porter County police said Wednesday, "We want to thank all of the agencies that assisted us in finding Mr. Moore — Lake County Sheriff’s Office, Valparaiso Fire, and Porter County Search and Rescue," Porter County police said. "We also want to note the tireless work of our detective bureau and all of the citizens that helped search and sent in tips to our office."
Moore's disappearance triggered a statewide Silver Alert and the creation of the Bring Rod Home Safely Facebook page that featured updates on the search and a photo of him shortly after his disappearance that was caught on a surveillance camera.
"Above all, even though we feel that all our strength is depleted right now, we are taking comfort knowing that we are being held in our Father’s loving arms and that our strength and hope is solely in Him," according to a Wednesday post on the Facebook page. "Thank you all, from the bottom of our hearts, for your love and support. Rod was so loved."
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