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'Just larger than life': Community remembers Arizona country star Duane Moore

Hundreds of people gathered in Mesa Thursday night to pay tribute to Duane Moore the best way they knew how - through music.

MESA, Ariz — "Larger than life." That's how the Arizona community is remembering legendary country-rock singer Duane Moore. Moore created the Mogollon Band in Heber-Overgaard back in 1979 and it's been an Arizona favorite ever since.

Moore, 58, died unexpectedly while mowing the lawn on April 28. His girlfriend told 12 News he had complained of chest pains a week prior but believed it was due to a hard workout.

On Thursday night, hundreds of Moore's fans, friends and family gathered at The Monastery in Mesa to pay their respects to the popular singer. If you asked any one of them, they would tell you Moore was a dear friend.

 "So you can talk to Dwayne as just a friend. And then you say five minutes until stage call and he’d just turned up to eleven," said Mike O'Hara, a co-event producer for Oktoberfest where Mogollon played for years. 

“He truly was an unrecognized pillar in this community and brought people together by the power of music," said Laura Johnson.

"I'm gonna miss him a lot. He was a sweetheart," said Eva Willis, a longtime fan of Mogollon.

Bryan Kuban, Mogollon's bass player, talked about what it was like to share the stage with Moore.

“Duane was a leader," Kuban said. "You know he was a person that led by example. Everything he did was excellent.”

Moore was full of talents. He sang, wrote music, played guitar and the fiddle. But one of his greatest talents may have been his ability to make everyone around him feel special.

“He would always spend time with whoever he met. Not just a few seconds, but he would take time to get to know who they were," Kuban said.

That's what makes his unexpected passing that much harder to process.

Especially for his best friend and girlfriend, Colene Richardson.

Credit: 12 News

“I believe in the good Lord. And I believe he's in a better place," Richardson said.

After Moore passed away, Richardson learned from a relative that he had purchased a ring and was planning to propose.

“He was the most caring, talented, loving man," Richardson said.

In addition to Moore's passion for playing on stage, he also had a love for community and giving back. Through playing Oktoberfest in Arizona for several years, he got connected to Tempe Sister Cities, an organization that raises money to help send students and professionals around the world to foster global relationships.

Mogollon even traveled to one of Tempe's sister cities, Regensburg, Germany, to perform, developing a fanbase overseas.

"Bringing the world together one friendship at a time. And he took that to heart," explained Kathy Schreiner, secretary for Tempe Sister Cities.

"He was willing to do anything for you that would help you," said David Carrera, president of Tempe Sister Cities.

All proceeds from Thursday night's memorial event will be donated to Tempe Sister Cities in Moore's name. Through that, his music and the thousands of lives he touched, Moore's legacy lives on.

“You know, they say the brightest candles burn the fastest," Kuban said.

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