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Around the world in a straight line

Jet-setting Houston woman makes her home along the 29th parallel

Created date

March 21st, 2014
woman with a pool in the background

For Moira Vorwerk, moving to Eagle’s Trace, an Erickson Living community in West Houston, fit the trajectory she’d traveled throughout her life.

Moira was born in Shanghai, China. She met and married her husband in Tripoli, Libya, and raised her children in Houston, Tex. All three cities fall on the 29th parallel north.

“I’ve lived across the world, but I always seemed to land on the 29th parallel,” says Moira, who’s father was a Scottish chief engineer employed by the Shanghai Waterworks Company.

Japanese internment camp

“Pre-1939, Shanghai was an international center divided into concessions,” says Moira. “The waterworks were British, the electric company and the telephone company were American, and the homes were in the French concession.”

Moira was seven when the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941. Overnight, she recalls Japanese troops taking over Shanghai. Moira and her parents were sent to an internment camp in Yangchow, China.

“There were about 600 of us living in this camp, which was a former seminary with a high wall around it,” says Moira. “We were guarded by Japanese civilians. The guards left when Japan conceded in September 1945, but we had no money, food, or means to leave the camp.”

As Americans learned the location of the internment camps, they began to fly over, dropping 50 gallon drums filled with food and supplies. Moira recalls one drum attached to a failed parachute.

“It plunged through three stories in the dormitory,” she says. “Fortunately no one was hurt.”

Finding love in Libya

In February 1946, Moira’s father secured passage for her back to his hometown of Perth, Scotland, where she lived with her paternal grandparents and attended Perth Academy. 

“My father continued to work in Shanghai for a few years after he made it out of the camp,” says Moira. “Then he went to work for the war department in Tripoli, Libya.”

Moira joined her father in Tripoli in 1958. Soon after she arrived, she met Clifford Vorwerk, a traveling auditor for Petty-Ray Geophysical.

“Cliff was originally from Pflugerville, Tex.,” says Moira. “We married in Libya in December 1959 and then returned to Texas.”

The couple settled in Houston to raise their three sons. Always an avid swimmer, Moira supported her sons as they swam competitively. 

“Swimming has always been a big part of my life,” says Moira. “I learned to swim in the cement pools around the waterworks. Once my sons were grown, I competed in the 1991 and 1995 Texas Senior Games, where I won six gold, three silver, and three bronze medals.”

Maintaining an active lifestyle

In August 2012, Moira moved to Eagle’s Trace.

“I moved to an apartment at Tarrytowne Estates, a senior community, after Cliff died,” says Moira. “Tarrytowne operates on a rental basis, and I realized I could save money each month by moving to Eagle’s Trace.”

Moira also liked the amenities at Eagle’s Trace, including the on-site fitness center and indoor swimming pool.

“Eagle’s Trace fits my active lifestyle,” says Moira. “I’ve taken up Wii bowling and bowl every Saturday with my team, the Big Birds.”

The proximity of Eagle’s Trace to her sons and their families was another consideration.

“I have four granddaughters ages 3, 6, 9, and 12,” says Moira. “I can still run and pick them up from school if their parents need a hand.”

Carefree retirement

When she’s not working out or busy with her granddaughters, Moira says she is free to enjoy her carefree lifestyle.

“I have a friend who’s lived in her home for 48 years,” she says. “There’s always something that needs to be fixed or replaced. I don’t have to worry about that living here. The maintenance crew takes care of everything from changing filters to replacing the batteries in the smoke detectors.”

Moira says the community’s two on-site restaurants keep her happily out of the kitchen.

“This is my retirement,” she says. “I’m not going to have dishpan hands anymore.”