By: Shelley McKinley
To meet Roy Dean Moore, widely known by Dean, is to understand how giving must be hardwired into his DNA. Having been born in Milam County – Gause, Texas to be exact, he grew up hearing how his grandfather and two other men bought 25 acres of land in 1903, just 38 years a er slavery ended, only to give it to Negros of Milam County with the expressed purpose of providing a burial site for them and their o spring. Peaceful Rest Cemetery still exists, with Dean going there often to pay homage to his grandfather and continue to maintain the grounds.
Dean Moore grew up in the Fi h Ward of Houston Texas, and attended E.O. Smith Junior High, Wheatley High School and then Kashmere High School from which he graduated. His family was the first Black family to move east of Kelly Street so Dean had to attend the newly built Kashmere High School. His parents simply wanted a nice house for their family, however, integrating a neighborhood caused Moore and his ve brothers to stay outside at night protecting their mother and home.
“Kashmere HS was originally built for white students, but black students got it by default,” stated Moore. During the day, Kashmere HS teachers seemed to believe he lacked interest in school. “Teachers never called on me or picked me, and probably would have identified me as least likely to succeed,” recalled Moore. He attended school and graduated, but had more interest in working and gifting his mother with his earnings.
He worked as a Shoe Shine Boy on Lyons Ave.; worked for Mr. Louis Dorian, his mentor, at C&L Shoe Shop; sold clothes at Dave’s Department Store on Lyons at Jenson; and learned about clothing at Mr. Booker T. Caldwell’s Tailoring Business. “At that time, employers insisted on good grades to work there. You had to bring in your report card for them to see it,” said Moore.
Graduating from high school with a chip on his shoulder, Moore worked at Hermann Hospital as a breakfast cook. Soon afterward, he got a draft notice to the Army. He was in President John F. Kennedy’s last draft group. The day President Kennedy was assassinated, Moore had been drafted but had not left yet. He was first stationed to Ft. Polk, and put in engineering. “I wondered why. I was given aptitude tests and kept scoring in the top 10%. I started volunteering to take tests because I couldn’t believe it. Then I started questioning why the teachers thought I was dumb. It’s at that time that my life began to change.” As a result he held leadership positions in the Army. He went on to Ft. Knox, Ft. Devens, and then Vietnam. In 1964, Moore was involved in a head-on collision in Boston, Ma. that killed 12 soldiers. He was the only survivor. He was thrown from the vehicle and into a lake.
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