He had a robust laugh that would fill a room and an honest humor that would cut to the core of an issue.
Herb Moore, a leader who supported culture and history in his community for most of his life, died five days before Christmas at his home in Ocean Springs.
He was 77.
A stickler for propriety and detail, he served his town with such good taste, elegance and grace that some considered him royalty of Ocean Springs and its social realm, but he might have laughed at that characterization.
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“At least the crown prince,” his friend, Peggy Butera, said. “First of all, he was charming.”
Friends have approached the priest at Moore’s church, St. John’s Episcopal of Ocean Springs, asking, “How do you bury a king?” friend Dee Dee Munro said.
Hold a state funeral, with its public ceremony and strict protocol?
He was such a driving force that there’s no one person who could ever fill the void.
Dee Dee Munro, friend
“I suspect it will be something like that,” the Rev. Charles Hawkins said.
The service will be at noon Jan. 7 at St. John’s with visitation at 10 a.m. Officials are expecting a crowd.
Moore was the founder of Public Art Project of Ocean Springs, which has delivered thousands of dollars’ worth of art around town, and co-founder of the Historic Ocean Springs Association, whose projects are too many to number. His estate is going to charity.
On the board of directors of the Walter Anderson Museum of Art, honored with the 2016 Community Service Award for PAPOS, he was also founder of the Bob & Virginia Meyer Award, which encourages historic preservation in Ocean Springs. Owner of By Design and Herb Moore Interiors for 20 years, he won the HGTV “Designer’s Challenge” in 2006.
“So sorry for the loss of one of our dedicated community leaders,” Mayor Connie Moran posted on Facebook.
His friends remember him as “an outspoken man whose character was above reproach ... honest, well-mannered, impeccably dressed and a splendid Southern gentleman.”
He was fastidious about decor — after all, that was his livelihood for 50 years — but he was down-to-earth and self-effacing.
There was the time he said he was driving his Cadillac convertible in downtown Dallas, Butera recalled, and his hairpiece flew off.
“This Dallas society matron behind him, pulled up to his car to say, ‘I hate to tell you, honey, but your little dog just blew out of the car and I think he’s dead.’”
He co-chaired the capital campaign that doubled the size of his historic church; chaired the flower guild, the aesthetics committee; and co-founded the Renaissance Festival.
“What he did was priceless,” Munro said.
It was more than the money he contributed — it was his ideas and position.
Accepting, loving, giving
Moore grew up in the Delta at a time when his lifestyle wasn’t as accepted, Munro said.
“Even people who treated him poorly or didn’t accept him or understand him, he didn’t allow those things to taint him,” she said. “He was just more accepting, loving and giving.”
His partner of 28 years, Steven Montgomery, died in 2006 and Moore set up the Moore-Montgomery Scholarship Trust through St. John’s.
“Herb exemplified the real definition of Christian love,” said businessman Greg Williams, who worked with him at St. John’s, “giving unto others without expecting anything in return.
“One of the most genuine and gracious hearts I’ve ever known .... He wasn’t a bad dance partner either.”
Moore died Dec. 20 after a holiday dinner with three of his best friends. He’d worn his mink jacket, and dropped off one friend on his way home.
“He had a wonderful evening and gracefully died at home,”friend Melanie Allen said.
He was still in his dinner vest and shirt.
“He was such a driving force that there’s no one person who could ever fill the void,” Allen said. “It would take all his friends and loved ones, all working together, to ever come close to the mark that he has made on the community of Ocean Springs and the Coast.”
Memorial service for Herb Moore
- 10 a.m. to noon visitation Jan. 7 at St. John’s Episcopal Church, 705 Rayburn Avenue, Ocean Springs
- Noon service immediately following with interment at the church’s Memorial Garden
- Reception to follow
In lieu of flowers, family and friends are recommending donations to the Moore-Montgomery Scholarship Trust. Contact St. John’s Episcopal, 705 Rayburn Avenue, Ocean Springs MS 39564