News bio

The following news article appeared in our local paper.

About Jean:

Author: Denise Ruttan
Date: October 10, 2012

Living, Loving and Learning in rural Lyons

The harmony that the photographs accompanying this news article represent has driven many of the goals that Moule has pursued in her life. Since 1981, Moule has settled down in rural Lyons to a life centered around family, teaching, art, friends and a commitment to making people aware of the continuing need for cultural sensitivity in today’s diverse world.

The year is 1956.

Jean is a student in a fifth grade class at Virginia Road School in Los Angeles, Calif. She is smiling in a creased black-and-white photograph. Children wear their finest dresses and slacks.

It’s one year after Rosa Parks refused to surrender her seat to a white person on a bus in Montgomery, Ala. It’s seven years before Martin Luther King, Jr., stood on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in Wash., D.C., one hot day in August and said he had a dream that his children would not be judged by the color of their skin.

The faces of Dr. Jean Golson Moule’s fifth grade class in 1956 are African-American, Latino, white, Asian and all ethnicities in between. No one ethnicity makes up a majority of the class. Eight-year-old Jean had two best friends: Anne, who was Jewish, and Penny, who was African-American.

Years later, Moule shows the picture to her students and asks them if they recognize her. If they can find the petite African-American girl in the back row, her hair tied back, a proud smile on her face.

The harmony that the photograph represents has driven many of the goals that Moule has pursued in her life.

Since 1981, Moule has settled down in rural Lyons to a life centered around family, teaching, art, friends and a commitment to making people aware of the continuing need for cultural sensitivity in today’s diverse world.

Moule is a professor emeritus at Oregon State University and still teaches classes part-time. She published a textbook, “Cultural Competence: A Primer for Educators” in 2012, coaching educators on how to teach diversity to students. More recently she published the general-reading book “Ask Nana Jean About Making A Difference,” inspired by her four grandchildren.

Moule was born in South Carolina and lived in New York City and Los Angeles during her formative years.

Berkeley in the 1960s

Jean Moule graduated with an art degree from University of California, Berkeley in 1965. It was the height of the Free Speech and anti-war movements.

She remembers the brand of activsm most meaningful to her: solo picketing. There’s no crowd to back you up. It’s just you on a street corner, holding a sign, stumping for a cause you believe in. For her, that cause was sanctity of life.

“They’re not the things you’d think I’d be picketing,” Moule said. “I’m not on one side of the fence or the other. The Free Speech movement was about our ability to say what we thought in public places. To this day I believe people need to be heard on either side.”

The Free Speech movement taught her that all voices are important.

A college romance

In college, Jean Golson met Robbie Moule. He was a historian by training and an excellent Bible teacher once in Oregon, she said.

He also wrote poetry.

“If I could live on grassy slopes and see the world through pines. I’d culminate my fondest hopes and build a home, yours and mine,” he wrote Jean in February, 1964.

Robbie wooed Jean by writing her love poems and placing the notes under the door of her dorm room.

They were an interracial couple at a time when interracial marriages were illegal in some states.

It only took a few months of dating for Robbie to propose. The couple got married in June, 1965.

“We first set our tear-filled eyes on each other the day John F. Kennedy was shot. We met two weeks later on Pearl Harbor Day; some might say it’s been a war ever since,” Moule told Oregon State University in an oral history interview last year. “Any relationship begun on those few days has nowhere to go but up. Through the years we have been homeless, clueless and in jail and at those times when we’ve had little but each other our marriage has been strengthened.

“According to surveys these and other types of causes many marriages to split. It goes back to the old adage, ‘the difference between an obstacle and a stepping stone is how high you lift your feet.’ So we took some high steps beginning with the decision to cross racial barriers to marry. That probably set the tone for the willingness to give our best efforts to the problems of marriage.”

Life in Oregon

After working odd jobs in California, the couple came to Oregon; they always thought the state was beautiful. Robbie then found work as a forester.

They first moved to the Silverton hills in 1969, when they had their first child. In 1974, they moved to Lyons.

Jean Moule taught talented and gifted students at Mari-Linn School and in Mill City schools. She’s also taught in Stayton, Sodaville and Scio.

Jean and Robbie Moule raised three children and traveled the world together. Then at 49, she went back to school to earn her master’s at University of Oregon and her doctorate at Oregon State University.

Since 1981, they have lived in a two-story tan-colored house in the country between Lyons and Stayton. Robbie Moule keeps a large vegetable garden. Jean Moule paints watercolors with friends on easels in the backyard. Now she paints trees, mountains and rocks, a contrast to her early years as an artist, when she painted people.

The couple enjoys helping to raise their four grandchildren.

Sundown Towns

People sometimes ask Jean Moule why she doesn’t move to Portland. The question, she said, reveals a subtle kind of racism. Today’s racism is hidden, more complex than the days when she marched in protests. It is good-hearted people saying words and phrases that are unintentionally hurtful, she said.

In her college-level classes she taught the book “Sundown Towns: A Hidden Dimension of American Racism” by James Loewen.

The book describes the cultural history of Oregon as well, she said.

“African Americans have been here throughout history,” Moule said. “The other part of that is that the numbers of African Americans in the state stayed constant for many years because at the time there was racism in Oregon that pushed people of color out of small towns. Oregon small towns had more African Americans in 1890 than 1930.”

During her years in Oregon, Moule has become a speaker and a trainer who teaches people how to embrace diversity through her work with the Oregon chapter of the National Association for Multicultural Education and other groups.

Moving beyond racism

Moule believes people must understand racism to move beyond it. That doesn’t mean saying that racism is over.

“When I think about making a difference, I think about helping the most people have the most loving, safe, caring places to be,” Moule said. “As a teacher educator, I know the role a teacher takes in that.”

Teachers, she believes, have the ability to influence the most people. That’s her version of “solo picketing” in her years as a grandmother.

Later in life, Robbie wrote Jean another poem that she still holds close to her heart. It was Feb. 14, 1994.

“The love we’ve shared since ’63 has grown beyond just you and me. Our three beige babes have left the nest and the years ahead may be the best.”

druttan@salem.gannett .com, (503) 769-6338 or follow at

Short Bio

Name: Jean Moule.

Age: 66.

Current home: Between Stayton and Lyons.

Occupying time: Educator in many ways, writing, and increasingly, art.

Where she is from: Born in South Carolina, raised in NYC and LA, lived in Oregon since 1969.

Family: Married 47 years; Husband, Robbie, 69; daughter Mary, 42; Michael, 40; Matt, 38; 6 grandchildren, the four youngest in “Ask Nana Jean about Making a Difference.”

Pets: Shares property with three cats and two llamas.

Stacked by bed for nighttime reading: Adventures, mysteries and favorite magazines: Outside, Smithsonian and the New Yorker.

Education: UC Berkeley, masters at University of Oregon, doctorate at Oregon State where she has faculty emerita status after 15 years and continues teaching, mostly online.

Interests/Hobbies: Grandkids, geocaching, art, writing, skiing and traveling (she is especially drawn to babies and children). Taking 8-year-old grandson to Costa Rica in November to rescue turtles, his passion.

Volunteer activities: Santiam Pass Ski Patrol and Santiam Heritage Foundation (on garden tour and some work on Brown House).