Living Legend

By Rebecca S. Jones

HOUSTON
Roy Dean Moore is the seventh of nine children born to Bob and Ollie Moore in Gause, Robertson County, Texas.

As a child, Moore and his family would go out to far West Texas each year, to pick and pull cotton in the field. Oftentimes, this outing came during the first half of the school year, while many of the other children were in school. When he did get the chance to attend school, he was already a semester behind the majority. This created a sense of insecurity in him. Nevertheless, he attended elementary school in Robertson County until the fifth grade.

Shortly thereafter, his family relocated to Houston. At this time, he attended E.O. Smith Jr. High and ultimately graduated from Kashmere High School. After high school, unsure of the path he would pursue professionally, he became a breakfast cook at Hermann Hospital. A year later, he was drafted into the United States Military. Early in his military career, he was given several aptitude tests, along with other enlistees from around the nation. He noticed he would always rank in the top 5-10% in testing. This factor provided him with a sense of confidence, and he began to feel more secure about himself. This was a major steppingstone for him, because for years he dealt with insecurity issues related to his lack of education during his childhood.

While serving in the military he was stationed in: Fort Polk, Louisiana, Fort Knox, Kentucky and Fort Devens, Massachusetts. Eventually, he received the order to go to Vietnam, where he served one tour in a combat unit. After being honorably discharged, he returned to Houston and began to seek employment. He was personally interviewed and hired by W. H. Curtin to work for W.H. Curtin Chemical Company and was the first Black to work in the office area there.

After a year, he took an exam and was offered employment with the United States Post Office. While there, he was active in the Union and was one of a group, who started an “Adopt a Family” program for Christmas. He also served on the federal campaign advisory board for United Way. For a number of years, he worked both jobs, while simultaneously acquiring real estate throughout Houston.

Then, in the late 60’s his uncle, who owned a trucking company offered it for purchase to he and his brothers. By the age of 27, Moore had established his first business venture, Triple M Transfer (with brothers, Charles and the late Cesar), which provided local hauling for every major warehouse in the Houston area. Eventually, the trucking business paved the way for the acquisition of a storage facility. During the same period, the brothers purchased a Phillip 66 and an Exxon service station. His brother Cesar left the trucking industry in pursuit of another career goal. Thus, Moore and his brother Charles, continued on in the trucking business and added to their portfolio the establishment three, R& C Diners/nightclubs.

Struck by illness, Moore retired from the post office and his businesses. By this stage, his real estate investment had proven to be a lucrative once. Thus, he continued buying properties, never selling any of them. By the age of 32, he turned all of his real estate into a blind trust as he wanted to make sure that his children were secure. Needing something to do, he went back to work after recovering from his illness. This landed him at the Mental Health Mental Retardation Authority (MHMRA) of Harris County. He initiated his career at the entry-level status.

In 1981, a federal judge’s order required all mental health workers receive specific training related to dealing with people with disabilities and aggressive mental health patients. This meant, all workers who dealt with people in these categories would have to receive training. Seeing a money-saving opportunity for the organization, Moore proposed he go to Rusk State Hospital and receive the necessary training and then provide it locally to MHMRA – eliminating and/or reducing, travel and housing expense for all others requiring training. This included, amongst others, probation officers, childcare workers, law enforcement, bus operators, prison guards, etc. The proposal was accepted and he was given authority to proceed with implementation.

He took on the task of teaching the staff locally, starting as a trainer and later promoted to Director of Staff Development, a subsidy of Human Resources. Here he was one of the founding members of the “Adopt a Family” program and chaired the committee. This program received input from staff social workers in selecting families to receive “wish list” gifts for the holidays.

During this time, he became the founding chair of the MHMRA in-house furniture bank, using the Jerry Lewis telethon as a model. Phone banks were set up in MHMRA administrative buildings on weekends; friends and family were recruited to man the phone bank. This eventually evolved into the Houston Furniture Bank, headed currently by Moore’s former colleague and mentee, Oli Mohammed. The bank was implemented to serve patients who were transitioning out of mental health facilities, and has seen much success to this day.

Moore noted that MHMRA had several in-house conferences targeting individual groups, such as Asians, Blacks, Hispanics, etc. Upon the arrival of Steven Schnee, Director/President of MHMRA of Harris County, Moore proposed these conferences be combined – saving time, money, effort, and fostering collaboration between groups. He received approval. Within three years, this conference went from a local in-house conference to a five-state conference with co-sponsorship with the office of the commissioner of mental health for the State of Texas. It became a multi-cultural effort called, “Multicultural Conference”. He was able to acquire people from all over the country as speakers and workshop conductors, including the Surgeon General, the world-renowned, Dr. Stephen Klineberg of Rice University and the Rev. Bill Lawson, just to name a few. It ended up being a four-day conference, averaging attendance between 500 – 700 people. Additionally, he was responsible for all special events, health fairs and conferences.

Over the years, Moore has become a part of every ethnic chamber of commerce in Houston. He would work with all of the chambers and soon found that none of the others knew about each other, resulting in the development and establishment of the Alliances of Chambers. During this formation, representatives from each culture of the various chambers met monthly and shared information, educating each other.

Later, Moore was promoted to Executive Director of Community Engagement. This position was one where he would lobby all around the city and state talking about mental health, his experience as an entrepreneur and his trucking industry background.

After he retired, he was asked by Edward Banks (known as the mayor of Third Ward), to come to the Third Ward Multi-Service Center to help do some things in the community. He later became, the Board Chair of Sunnyside and Third Ward Community Center.

In his mother’s honor, he built an organization known as the DeAnne Group. The DeAnne Group caters to feeding the needy and clothing the underprivileged. Annually, it purposes to award scholarships to recipients chosen from the bottom half of the graduating class – in remembrance of Moore’s early school experiences. Another facet of the DeAnne Group is the annual “Dinner with Dean” luncheon. This event is one where he invites those who may not have a place to eat for Christmas.

With founding partner, Clara Shynett, he also created Roy Inc., which is an acronym for Real Option for Youths. It is a volunteer organization created to support youth that come from high-risk environments, experiencing both low self-esteem and inconsistent parenting, as well as the economically challenged missed by mainstream programs. Roy Inc. is devoted to recruiting and training adult volunteers who are motivated and committed to providing citizenship, leadership, social skills training, economic education and opportunities for at risk youth, ages 6-18 years of age. Its current focus is on youth residing in the Houston area

Finally, Moore possesses a commitment to the Peaceful Rest Cemetery, located in the area of his birthplace. Through the research of his best friend, Ferias Ferguson, it was found that, his paternal grandfather Samuel “Pomp” Moore, along with two other men purchased grounds for a cemetery, which was founded in 1903. These men bought land and decreed that any Negro born in Robertson County, or any offspring, could be buried there. With the leadership and foresight of Ferias Ferguson, along with the cemetery council, the cemetery has been marked a historical site.

In 1959, his mother’s father, Dan Gray became a chair of the committee that came up with having a program every year every Memorial Day weekend. On that day, they have a cemetery luncheon, a cleanup and fundraiser. After the passing of Dan Gray, Gray’s son and Moore’s uncle, W.M. Gray took on the presidency and held it for 49 years. When he passed, Moore was elected. Currently, his cousin Cynthia Tibbs serves as president. Per Moore, “This is a project that of which I am very proud, and I am making plans to be a part of it even after I am gone.”

Moore has two sons, David Belton and Roy Dean Moore, Jr. and one grandson, Waymon.