Mary Ann Henning Moore was born in 1924 and grew up in Albemarle, North Carolina. She attended the Woman’s College of the University of North Carolina (now University of North Carolina at Greensboro) from 1941 until October 1944, when Moore joined the WAVES (Women Accepted for Volunteer Emergency Service).
She attended basic training, Officer Candidate School, and communications school at Smith College in Northampton, Massachusetts. After communications school in early 1945, Moore served in Washington, D.C., at the naval communications office encoding and decoding messages from ships. She left the WAVES as an ensign in August 1946.
From September 1946 to October 1947, Moore attended the University of Geneva, Switzerland, and the Sorbonne in Paris, France. She then studied German at Columbia University in New York, New York. From 1948 to 1949, Moore worked for the Marshall Plan in Washington, D.C. She married a former Marine Air Corps pilot in 1950 and had five children. She and her family lived in Orange, Virginia, until her husband’s retirement from Woodberry Forest School, when they moved to Charlottesville, Virginia.