PROSPECT — Luther Harbert Moore is being remembered as “Prospect legend” who spent his life working to ensure that all Robesonians are treated equally, especially at the ballot box.
“He was a giant in this community, ” said Noah Woods, the current chairman of the Robeson County Board of Commissioners. “He was an outstanding leader. He worked for the good of everybody.”
Moore, who owned and operated Moore’s Chainsaw Service in Prospect, died Thursday at the age of 86.
Moore in the 1970s was a leader in the movement to register American Indians and blacks to vote in Robeson County. He also was instrumental in efforts to break “double-voting,” a practice that allowed voters in the county’s municipal school districts to elect members to their individual board of educations as well as the countywide Robeson County Board of Education. The practice of “double-voting” made it difficult for American Indians and blacks to be elected to the county board and was eventually abolished by the courts.
The Rev. Robert Magnum, a friend of Moore’s who worked with him on numerous projects, said that Moore had a “passion” for ensuring that all people — not just American Indians like himself — were treated justly and offered equal opportunities.
“When he had a vision and a goal for helping others, he would pursue it with tenacity and perseverance until it was accomplished,” Magnum said. “
Moore’s passion for education led him to becoming one of the first American Indians to be elected to the Robeson County Board of Education, a position he held from 1973 to 1976. He also served as a member of the Robeson Community College board of trustees from 1983 to 2003.
“He was a great guy and very good member of the board of trustees,” said Charles Chrestman, the college’s president. “He was always looking for ways to do the best things for everyone at the college … . He was the type of fellow that you hate to lose in your community. He was a solid citizen.”
Moore was described by many as often working behind the scenes, preferring to avoid the spotlight.
“My grandfather always said that it is better to be the tail of something than the head of nothing,” said Edwin Belton Moore, a ninth-grade student at Purnell Swett High School.
Moore’s nephew, Bosco Locklear, is the housing director for the Lumbee Tribe of North Carolina and a member of the Public Schools of Robeson County Board of Education. He followed in his uncle’s footsteps by serving on the county school board and as a member of the county Board of Elections.
“He was one of the strongest influences in my life,” Locklear said. “He always gave me political advice … . He was a leader in his community, his church and his county.”
Locklear and others who spoke with The Robesonian described Moore as an unselfish individual who would do anything to help people and better his community.
“I remember in the early 80s where he had $120,000 on his business books that people owed him,” Locklear said. “I asked him why he didn’t collect this money and he told me ‘They ain’t got the money to pay.’… That’s the kind of man he was. He would give you the shirt off his back even if he didn’t know you. He would give you money and never ask what it was for or when he would get it back.”
Moore was a retired member of the Prospect Volunteer Fire Department. He had learned firefighting skills during World War II while in the the U.S. Navy.
As a member of Prospect United Methodist Church, Moore served on a number of boards and committees. He was a Sunday School teacher, youth superintendent, and church school superintendent.
Among other things, Moore served on the N.C. Commission of Indian Affairs; Prospect School Advisory Committee; Lumbee Guaranty Bank board of directors; Robeson County Jury Commission; and the N.C. Advisory Committee to the U.S. Civil Rights Commission.
“My grandfather … would serve people in any way possible that he could,” Edwin Belton Moore said. “He served his church, his community, his county, his nation, and most important of all, his Lord. He did not need a position or a title to be a leader and a public servant.”
Among Moore’s survivors are his wife of 62 years, Rosie Mae Moore, and a daughter and four sons.