If I close my eyes, I can perfectly picture Becki Moore walking the halls of Arkansas Business Publishing Group in her black-and-white outfit of the day, sporting her perfect, blondish bob and signature red glasses. She almost always had a pen and notepad in hand, often a camera around her neck.
In the years before a primary progressive aphasia diagnosis brought the onset of dementia, Becki was sharp, quick-witted and you never had to guess what she thought about you. I appreciated her willingness to be blatantly honest, even if it was intimidating for the first few months I worked with her. After a bit, her quirkiness and brilliance would win you over, and you would find yourself clamoring for her approval.
Charlotte B. Brown, Becki's former Arkansas Arts Center coworker turned dear friend, says when they first met in the winter of 1996, they immediately clashed over differing ideas on how to proceed with an ambitious capital campaign to raise $21 million in order to renovate and expand the existing facility.
"She and I circled, we jockeyed, we sparred, but when we finally got up, we found ourselves cohesively joined at the hip in common purpose. My ever-interesting and creative friend is intelligent, clever, no B.S., big-hearted, fearless and passionate."
Becki was always on the go. Her mornings at the magazine were in the office getting updates from the editorial team on the next issue and looking at pages with the art director. Then she was off to appointments with local leaders and lunches with the city's finest, who she could always convince to let us photograph or interview for a particular nonprofit in order to help the cause at hand. Her ability to get those wanting the least amount of publicity to agree to be in Soirée is a skill I am still so in awe of today.
Between those meetings, appointments and sprinting out the door to take Party Pics at one of the night's events, she would bark orders at us sales reps, telling us who we should be calling and what we should be pitching.
I joined the Soirée team in 2009, seven years after it launched, and Becki mentored me as I grew with the magazine. She shared her stories and networks with me, connected dots as to who was who and her reasoning for why we did this feature and not that one.
Just two years prior to my arrival, former editor Amanda Hoelzeman had joined the team. She was a newly-minted college graduate eager to learn and itching to write important stories.
“I knew nothing — absolutely nothing — about society and philanthropy in Little Rock," Hoelzeman says. "Becki taught me everything, and I soon learned the ins and the outs of creating a monthly magazine, how to take the best party photos and, most important of all, how to discover and tell the most compelling stories of giving in Arkansas.”
Arkansas Business reporter Mark Friedman was a mainstay in the Party Pic-taking scene for more than a decade, but he remembers the early days on assignments. Becki spent time teaching him how to snap pictures and navigate his way through an upscale fete, and she would always ask who was there and how the party was when he returned from an event.
“I knew I was working with someone special when Soirée hosted its fifth anniversary party at the Country Club of Little Rock,” he recalls. “I watched as a steady stream of executives and community leaders flowed through the country club to thank Becki for the spotlight she put on nonprofits, which she cared for.”
It was her passion for sharing the stories of these nonprofit organizations and events in Little Rock that fueled the magazine and was felt by anyone she encountered or who picked up an issue.
Helping piece it all together were her enviable networks of people in central Arkansas and her complex understanding of Little Rock legacies. Thanks to various marketing roles at some of the state's leading businesses and organizations, Becki knew everyone and everyone knew her — or at least knew the woman with the red glasses. In fact, I understand a couple of years into her stint at Soirée, she was a character in one of the satirical productions of "The Gridiron Show" at The Rep.
Leslie Taylor of UAMS says she and Becki became friends when they were both working for the Arkansas Gazette. Becki was in advertising at the time and Taylor was the society editor.
"Even back then she loved people and loved to laugh. Becki likes to have fun, as evidenced by her signature red glasses,” Taylor says, adding that Becki asked for her opinion years later when contemplating the move to Soirée.
"I couldn’t think of anyone better for that role. By then she had been at The Rep and the Arts Center and had made a ton of contacts and friendships with community leaders. Her writing talent, combined with her love of people and her inquisitive nature made her a natural fit both as editor and in covering events."
Olivia Farrell, former owner and CEO of ABPG, and the one responsible for recruiting Becki to the role of Soirée editor in 2002, agrees. She, too, couldn't think of a better person for the job.
"Becki was the only choice for running the magazine," Farrell says. "Above all else, Becki loved to promote. I knew her through all of these iterations in her life — from Savers and The Rep, the Arts Center and the Democrat-Gazette — and through all of her roles she really was brilliant at marketing and promotion.
"When you spoke with Becki, she would tell you such interesting facts and know all of the details surrounding a project she was excited about that day, whether it was a show The Rep was performing, an art exhibit or the work a nonprofit was doing. And it got you excited as well.
"The great thing about Becki as editor of Soirée was it was never about her. It was always about being able to use the Soirée platform to share really cool stories that needed to be known or supported or celebrated."
Becki's unique talents included her written word, her vision for the way people should be photographed, her creativity and her genuine ability to promote the wonderful aspects of Little Rock. Who else could convince Pam Stephens to be featured in the magazine? Who else could talk Skip Rutherford into riding an elephant for the cover? No one, but Becki.
It was her passion for sharing great people and great stories with Soirée readers that was contagious and made you want to be a part of what she was creating. But she also liked to keep you guessing. She would never let us know who was going to be on the cover until the day we would proof the magazine before going to press. She liked creating an element of surprise, and we were surprised, month after month, at the people who graced the covers and pages of Soirée during her tenure.
For a decade, Becki Moore shared, supported and celebrated Little Rock's treasures. She instilled in me a passion for the city and for nonprofits, for storytelling and beautiful imagery. The Soirée team has changed shapes through the years, and editors and art directors and account executives have come and gone, but at the heart of each issue of Soirée, I can honestly say we channel Becki’s passion for the people and organizations that make Little Rock great.
I hope 10 years later we make Becki proud, and I hope 20 years later we're still making you, our loyal Soirée reader, proud.