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Moore Blazes Trail in Finance

Brett Flashnick/AP

After years of working her way to the highest levels of Wall Street, Darla Moore was still thinking about a dilapidated building known as the bean market in her hometown, Lake City, S.C.

It was a favorite building of her father, Eugene T. Moore, an educator, athlete and coach. Darla Moore, 58, one of the wealthiest women in finance, poured time, money and energy into revitalizing the space, which opened last fall as a community gathering place and museum in the depressed town of former tobacco industry glory.

“She transforms things,” said Jim Fields, the executive director of the Palmetto Institute, a nonprofit group Moore founded a decade ago that focuses on improving the economy and education system in her home state. “It was a huge challenge. That’s why she liked it so much.”

He added, “She doesn’t sleep...

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