The telephone rang incessantly and the response was nearly always the same:

"Good afternoon, council member Jerry Moore's office . . . No, he's not in. May I take a number? . . . Thank you." CLICK.

Yesterday, the day after the D.C. City Council's sole Republican suffered defeat at the hands of former school board member Carol Schwartz in his party's Tuesday primary, Moore's staff carried on in his absence.

"We're having a great time around here; there's no funeral here," said Moore's executive assistant, Nancy Bralsford. "Rev. Moore is doing well."

But Moore, 66, who has served as an at-large council member since 1969, did not report to his District Building office all day, his aides said. Bralsford said he was not granting interviews and had decided to take a "day of rest."

Moore's home telephone sounded a day-long busy signal.

Moore did, however, attend last night's City Council meeting, wearing a desert-brown suit and a strained smile.

In a brief interview shortly before he entered the council chamber, he said he has fully accepted the will of the voters, and feels "marvelously well."

"I sent Mrs. Schwartz a telegram of congratulations," he said. "Mrs. Schwartz has called me, but I was not available to receive her call." Moore said he harbors "absolutely" no bitterness toward anyone as a result of his 3,225-to-2,315 vote loss, despite his campaign chest of some $133,000.

"The only plan I have right at the moment is to serve out the rest of this term," he said. "That's what I agreed to, and that's what I will do."

Jerry A. Moore III, who managed his father's campaign, said he was besieged yesterday by phone calls from supporters who offered kind words and prospective opportunities for the elder Moore. Moore III, a 37-year-old lawyer, declined to discuss those offers.

"Thank goodness for him that he is not a person without alternatives," he said." . . . First thing he is going to do is stay with his church. I'm sure he is not going to consider any opportunity that would interfere with his duties and responsibilities as pastor of the church."

Council member Moore has been pastor of the Nineteenth Street Baptist Church, located at 4606 16th St. NW, for 36 years.

The Rev. Edward A. Hailes, an associate pastor at the church, repeated the consolation he said he offered his longtime friend yesterday.

"I wanted him to know this is not the end of the world.

"He said, 'I understand that, Eddie, and I have no bitterness. We are just going to pick up and see where we can go.' " Hailes said Moore's calm acceptance of his defeat is rooted in his religous faith.

Hailes added that Moore may well have reason to be bitter: "All the Republicans that had said they backed him . . . he didn't find that backing in terms of votes. If they had lived out what they said, he would have won."

But Moore III was more philosophical.

"She Schwartz got more votes than we did; that is the bottom line," he said. "We tried to run a first-class, high-road campaign in every precinct in this city. "When one has been in public life as long as my father has been, one can expect to have disappointments. Public life is like sports, you can't expect to win every game."

Moore, first appointed to the City Council in 1969, is serving his third term in one of two seats that are by law reserved for members of parties not in the majority: in essence, non-Democrats.

He has earned a reputation for being reasonable and willing to compromise, his Democratic colleagues say. Some Republicans, however, criticize him as too flexible, and charge he is a closet Democrat.

A former president of the Metropolitan Washington Council of Goverments (COG), he is head of the City Council's Committee on Transportation and Environmental Affairs, and is the council's longtime representative on the Metro board. Some of his proudest legislative offerings have been on transportation, Moore has said.

As a candidate he emphasized his record as an advocate for affirmative-action programs and economic development. He is president of Operation PUSH's Metropolitan Washington chapter.

In the hallways of the District Building yesterday, some spoke of Moore in the past tense, and occasionally with a sort of hushed reverence.

Council member Polly Shackleton (D-Ward 3), whose tenure is second only to Moore's, said his defeat spells a "great loss" to the council.

"My principal thought is one of appreciation of all Jerry has done for this city over the years," she said. "I feel very strongly that he has been a good influence on the council."

"I don't think that we ought to do any kind of postmortem on him," said council member Frank Smith Jr. (D-Ward 1). "He's a good fellow. He comes from good peasant stock.

"He'll land on his feet."