Businesswoman, philanthropist. Moore is president of Rainwater, Inc., one of the largest private investment firms in America. She is also the founder of the Palmetto Institute, a private policy research group in South Carolina. She was born on August 1, 1953, in Lake City, the daughter of Eugene T. Moore, a retired teacher, and Lorraine Linsenbardt. Moore earned a B.A. in political science from the University of South Carolina in 1975 and an M.B.A. from George Washington University in 1981. After graduate school, she joined the management training program at Chemical Bank in New York City. There, Moore desperately wanted to make her mark in leveraged buyouts, the hot business trend of the 1980s and male-dominated at the time, but she was never able to penetrate that inner circle. Instead, Moore was more willingly accepted in the Chemical Bank’s bankruptcy division, where she specialized in Chapter 11s and made millions for the bank during the late 1980s.
In 1991 Moore married the billionaire Richard Rainwater, and in 1994 she joined his firm, Rainwater, Inc., where she tripled his net worth, estimated at $2 billion in June 2001 by Fortune. Known for her swift moves and decisiveness, Moore has been credited for the decision to remove two powerful corporate chieftains: the notorious corporate raider T. Boone Pickens of Mesa (oil and gas) and CEO Rick Scott of Columbia/HCA (health care). She was called “The Toughest Babe in Business” by Fortune in 1997, the first time in its seventy-year history that the magazine had profiled a woman for a cover story. A year later she was named to Fortune’s list of the top fifty most powerful women in American business (she ranked nineteenth).
Moore has also been involved with philanthropic projects over the years, most notably in education. In 1998 she donated $70 million to the University of South Carolina, and the university in response renamed its business school in her honor. More recently, in 2002 Moore and her husband donated $10 million to Clemson University’s Eugene T. Moore School of Education, named for Darla’s father, a 1949 Clemson alumnus.
Sellers, Patricia. “Don’t Mess with Darla.” Fortune 136 (September 8, 1997): 62–72.
———. “The 50 Most Powerful Women in American Business.” Fortune 140 (October 25, 1999): 76–98.