MOORE, Theodore Roosevelt

But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run and not be weary; and they shall walk and not faint. Isaiah 40:31

Theodore Roosevelt Moore was born April 20, 1905, in Rock Island, Texas, to Elisha & Betty Moore. The Moore family members were longtime farmers in Colorado County near Columbus, Texas. The Moore family has been a fixture in that county for over a century and to this day, several family members still reside in that area. Theodore was the fifth child of nine children: Christiana, Abe, Albert, Hattie Mae, Theodore, Mary, Walter, Ora and James. The brothers and sisters grew up in a fun-loving, tightknit and hardworking environment. Theodore and his brothers and sisters learned from his parents at an early age about how to strive for your goals and what it took to survive. After the 6th grade, Theodore had to help work in the fields with his father and brothers to help support the family. Though his formal education was not extensive, he was an extremely insightful and intelligent man who would become one of the most sought out contractors and swimming pool builders in Central Texas.

His parents and all siblings predeceased him. As an adolescent, it was evident that Theodore was destined to be a successful man and, in 1921, as a sixteen year old, Theodore was hired to break (tame) wild horses — a job that was usually reserved for adult whites. If you understand the process of breaking in a horse, you know that it is no easy task. It takes time, dedication, patience and most of all, compassion. Theodore possessed all of these characteristics and they would frame the way that he interacted with people and lived his long life. All who knew him would attest to his kind spirit and caring nature toward his friends, family members and others with whom he met along his life’s journey. Theodore left Rock Island in 1923 and moved to Houston. Then, in 1926, Theodore decided to venture out and to move to the big city of Austin, Texas. Here in Austin, he began to gain skills in home-building and cement construction. He worked for various contractors for the next 30 years before branching out on his own as a contracting entrepreneur. In the early 1950’s he started a contracting company with his brother Albert and they specialized in building commercial and residential swimming pools.

As well, they developed a groundbreaking process used to preserve and renovate historical sites such as plantations and slave quarters from the early 1800s. These renovated sites are still toured today. The Moore brothers made a name for themselves in the Central Texas area and were in high demand for their specialized services. Often the brothers combined their expertise — Theodore & Albert (concrete), Walter (building contractor) and James (electrician) to build one another’s homes and the homes of other family members in Columbus and Austin. They also utilized their skills to begin purchasing and renovating commercial properties and homes for rentals in addition to owning a wood yard for commercial builders to purchase materials for building projects. Theodore eventually retired from his contracting businesses in 1987 at the age of 82, though he would continue doing what he loved by renovating and reviving properties within the East Austin area. Over the course of his career, while accumulating his wealth as an entrepreneur, he met and married Esther Lucille Hall in 1960. In 1963 they were blessed with an only daughter, Alicia Lorraine, and in 1965 Lucille passed away and Theodore became a single father to a 2 ½ year old daughter. With the help of his sister-in-law, Mildred Dale Hall-Fisher, he was able to raise her while she lived just doors away from their home. Theodore doted on his daughter, Alicia Lorraine, and loved her with all of his heart.

Theirs was a special relationship and she was wholeheartedly Daddy’s Girl ! He loved buying her everything she desired and would often comment that, “She’s spoiled, but I made her that way! She is my baby” With his support and undying love, Theodore was proud to raise her to become Dr. Alicia L. Moore-Hopkins, an Associate Professor at Southwestern University. From such humble beginnings, he was proud of his “baby” and proud that he had raised such successful offspring. His daughter assured him that when he grew older, she would never place him in a nursing home. She loved him dearly and, during his last years here on earth, she made sure that she took special care of him in her home. Many years after the death of Esther Lucille, Theodore met and began courting a young woman named Annie Toms. It was a simpler time and, since Annie lived in the neighborhood, he would walk to her house to have dinner. That friendship quickly became a romantic relationship and Annie and Theodore, after courting a number of years, moved in together. Annie and Theodore took care of each other and were inseparable life partners. We often joked that he had “robbed the cradle” since Annie is some 20 years younger than he was. They lived together until she was no longer able to care for him and, at 105 years old, he moved in with his daughter. Annie, a devoted life partner, visited him every day until his passing.

Another special relationship that made Theodore happy was his relationship with his nephew, Coach Alvin Moore. Theodore would often refer to him as “the son I never had” and would share stories, jokes and other tales about life with him. Alvin remembers his uncle as, a “fun-loving” man who loved to tell jokes, to laugh. Theodore would often attend the Huston- Tillotson University baseball games to watch Alvin coach the HTU Rams to victory. Alvin was a dedicated nephew and visited Theodore every day during his last years while living with his daughter. They had a special relationship that Alvin says he will always remember. One thing to remember about Theodore was that he was not only known for his skilled craftsmanship and business acumen, but also, for his stylish attire. From imported silk suits to western wear (hats, boots, belt buckles with handmade/ imported buckles from around the world) . He also made sure that he dressed his “baby”, Alicia, accordingly in the finest attire available. Theodore’s hobbies were: fishing, hunting and raising Palomino horses and he was well known for his most entertaining jokes and stories about the good old days. As well, Theodore was a consummate cook and when he made barbeque and fried fish, the family would flock to his home to enjoy the delicious fare. Theodore has been a member of Metropolitan A.M.E Church for over 50 years. He was a Christian and often sang hymns in his last years throughout the day and into the wee hours of the morning.

He is survived by his daughter Alicia L. Moore-Hopkins, son-in-law Gary L. Hopkins, special life partner Annie Toms, many devoted nephews & nieces including Alvin Moore (Mae), Janie Moore and twin sister Janice, Wilretta Collins, Gloria Moore (William), Raydell Moore (Freida), Bernice Whitfield, Barbara Harrison, Willie B. Moore, Willie Moore, Emma Taylor, Mary Boyd, sister-in-law Margaret Norris and many great-nephews, nieces, cousins and extended family. Special Gratitude: Theodore considered those who tirelessly assisted in his care over the past years to be his extended family and he referred to them as his “sons and daughters.” He was particularly grateful to Calvin & Jacque Patterson-Holmes, Roslyn & Earnest Swindell, Brigid & Thomas Roberson, and Crystal & Michael Wiltz. He also appreciated his special friendships with Jocelyn Walker, and Arleetha Wash, Maize and Greg Hamilton.

As well, extreme gratitude is to be heaped upon his devoted caretakers: Hospice Austin, Ms. Sophia Sanchez, Becky Ford, Ursula Banks, Robin “Alex” Alexander, Nicky Thees, Mary Ellen Clifford (former Hospice Austin RN) & Jack Harrison (Hospice Austin), Dr. James Kvale (Hospice Austin) Dr. Michael Prete (ARA), and former Hospice Chaplain Judy Brandon and Social Worker Alicia Horton. Special thanks to cousins Ruby, Jennell and Anne Dancy, Christian Cato, Dora Washington, and to great-nephew Keith Moore for their visits and kindness. We would also like to thank Marion Hopkins, Sharon Bryant-Campbell, Anjie Patterson and Christine Vallejo for their kindness during Theodore’s initial move into the home of his daughter.

Visitation today, 6pm-8pm at Austin Peel and Son Funeral Home. Funeral service Friday, 2:00 p.m. at Mt. Zion Baptist Church. Interment Evergreen Cemetery. Services entrusted to A Life Celebration by Franklin, Taylor, TX.

Published in Austin American-Statesman on February 14, 2013