By SAM RAPPAPORT
Friends and associates of psychotherapist Robert Moore offer an illustration of the man that stands in stark contrast to the circumstances of his death.
Moore, a former professor at the Chicago Theological Seminary (CTS), 1407 E. 60th St., and his wife Margaret Shanahan, a prominent Jungian psychotherapist, were found dead, Saturday morning, June 18, in their Hyde Park home, 1400 block of East 54th Street.
Police were responding to a call for a well-being check, that Saturday, at 9:49 a.m., when they happened upon Moore, 73, and Shanahan, 65, inside of their home, both with gunshot wounds to the head.
The Cook County Medical Examiner’s Office confirmed the deaths of Moore and Shanahan and said that Moore’s death had been ruled a suicide while Shanahan’s had been labeled a homicide.
President of the C.J. Jung Institute of Chicago Stephen Martz studied under Moore at CTS in the 1980s. Martz described Moore as an open and welcoming man that often assumed the role of an advisor.
“Robert was an early mentor for me,” Martz said. “He was very compassionate, very caring, the kind of human being that really connected well with students.”
Jason Coulter, the pastor at Ravenswood United Church of Christ, was another one of those students whom Moore had a great impact on.
“[Moore] helped me to make sense of how I was equipped to serve the church, God and humanity,” Coulter said. “He had an ability to allow others to be vulnerable in his presence. With professor Moore, you felt safe to be yourself.”
Moore was the long-time instructor of a course titled “Theories of Change” at CTS. Coulter said that almost every student that has filtered through CTS in the past 25 years has taken the course.
On Sunday, June 19, CTS hosted a “reflection and remembrance” gathering for Moore and Shanahan, which took place Monday, June 20. Approximately 40 people attended the event.
CTS spokeswoman Susan Cusick issued the following statement on the recent tragedy.
“Chicago Theological Seminary is deeply saddened by the deaths of Dr. Margaret Shanahan and Professor Robert Moore,” Cusick said. “Professor Moore was a valued member of the seminary’s faculty from 1977 until his retirement from full-time teaching in 2012.”
Like Moore, Shanahan often assumed the role of counselor and mentor to those around her, according to one of the psychotherapist’s close friends.
Mary Kay Devine, the wife of Coulter, first met Shanahan in 2006 when her husband was enrolled at CTS.
“We had a really special relationship,” Devine said of Shanahan. “I feel like she really played the role of another mother in my life, and I’m happy that I got to learn from her.”
Devine said that she was hit hard by the news of Shanahan’s death, in part, because she expected Shanahan to be around for decades to come.
“She was always willing to share advice,” Devine said. “I’m just lucky I was able to bask in her wisdom.”
Martz explained that both Shanahan and Moore were passionate, strong personalities within the Jungian community, but that their involvement had waned in recent years.
“We haven’t seen much of them in recent years,” Martz said “We’re all trying to look back and see how this could have happened.”
Martz and others think that Moore’s deteriorating mental health could have played a role in his actions.
“Moore’s health was deteriorating,” Martz said. “Some have said that it could have been vascular dementia.”
Devine said that she was aware that Moore had experienced physical health difficulties in the past but that her knowledge of the details were limited.
Confusion and a general disbelief seem to be the predominant reactions to the manner of Moore and Shanahan’s deaths.
“I can’t believe it,” Devine said. “The fact that it’s such a tragic end to such beautiful lives—it’s just an overwhelming crush of confusion. For them, everything was about seeking mental health and balance and beauty in the world. For their lives to end this way—I just can’t comprehend it.”