John E. Moore, Sr.

Greater Dayton has lost a voice for the voiceless and trailblazer in the fight to achieve an equitable and inclusive community. A nearly 50-year volunteer, donor and friend of The Dayton Foundation, John E. Moore, Sr., would have turned 98 on January 11, just days after his passing.

“John Moore’s wisdom and tireless energy was a guiding light for all of us in the community,” said Mike Parks, president of The Dayton Foundation. “He couldn’t have been a more devoted community leader, blazing trails to advocate for others. Whatever was needed, John was there to help in any way possible. He will always have our great gratitude and deepest respect.”

A World War II veteran and retired chief of civilian personnel at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, John Moore came onto the Foundation’s Governing Board in 1972. In those early years, the Foundation was, according to Sinclair Community College President Emeritus David Ponitz in 2005, “an inconsequential entity” that had become a “community giant.” John helped to bring the Foundation from virtual obscurity to recognition as a true player in the community.

At its 2005 Biennial Meeting Celebration, The Dayton Foundation honored John Moore and fellow Emeritus Governing Board Member and Chair Fred Smith for their longtime service and dedication to the organization and the community. Both warriors of Greater Dayton and The Dayton Foundation, they time and again volunteered to lead seemingly impossible battles that changed the face of philanthropy in the region; had a profound impact on the education of our most at-risk youth; expanded support that provided new employment opportunities to tens of thousands of local residents; and celebrated diversity by working to build a more diverse, skilled workforce.

“As the Foundation’s first African-American Governing Board Member and later Chair, John had the unfailing commitment to break down barriers of race and class in our community,” Mike Parks said.

His vision to increase minorities’ role as grantmakers became a reality during his chairmanship of the Board in 1991. John, along with then fellow Governing Board Member Lloyd E. Lewis, Jr., launched the nationally recognized and groundbreaking African-American Community Fund (AACF) under the umbrella of The Dayton Foundation to empower the African-American community philanthropically. Today, AACF’s 190 funds collectively total more than $7 million in assets.

Other notable achievements of John Moore included:

  • Serving as a founding supporter of the Dayton-Montgomery County Scholarship Program, which has awarded nearly $20 million since 1981 to graduating seniors to further their education.
  • Chairing the Dayton Self Sufficiency Program, a five-year effort launched in 1987 to help Montgomery County young adults overcome obstacles to economic independence. The Dayton Foundation had to secure $1 million in an unrestricted and broad field-of-interest endowment over five years, so that income could be generated to support programs. Thanks to the support of generous, concerned citizens and John’s chairmanship, the Foundation exceeded 90 percent of its goal within the first year. In the years that followed, seven related projects were established, including Sinclair Community College’s “open enrollment” program for students who lacked a high school diploma or GED.
  • Aiding in the creation of Montgomery County’s Human Services Levy, created from the merger of six human services-oriented levies into two.
  • Co-convening the Issues 9 Committee, which first illuminated racial disparities in the Dayton area and spawned the founding of Parity, Inc. with the late Charity Adams Early.
  • Founding Parity’s Black Leadership Development Program which continues today.
  • Serving a leadership role in the creation of the Montgomery County Job Center, which has become one of the largest employment and training centers in the nation.
  • Chairing the Foundation’s Diversity Task Force established in 1999 to focus community leaders to see that everyone, regardless of race, had equal access to opportunity. This effort led to the establishment of the Commission on Minority Inclusion in 2005, which John Moore co-chaired with Brother Ray Fitz that then led to such projects as the Minority Business Partnership, housed at the Dayton Chamber of Commerce, and Miami Valley Works, housed at Goodwill Easter Seals Miami Valley.
  • Serving as an executive committee member of the Out-of-School Youth Task Force to lead school dropouts to new alternative educational programs and keep potential dropouts in school and interested in learning.

Like his board and committee affiliations, his list of awards is long and includes Montgomery County 1997 Citizen of the Year; 50th Citizen Legion of Honor Award by the Presidents Club; 2004 Fred Shuttlesworth Humanitarian Award; 2006 Dayton Business Journal’s Regional Leader of the Year; 2007 Dayton Region’s Walk of Fame Honoree; Association of Fundraising Professionals in Greater Dayton Ohio’s National Philanthropy Day 2010 Outstanding Volunteer Fundraiser; 2014 Dayton Peace Hero by the Dayton International Peace Museum; and 2016 Ohio Veterans Hall of Fame inductee. In addition, the technologies center at Sinclair Community College was renamed in his honor in recognition of his longtime dedication and service to the college, and McKinley United Methodist Church named their new Community Room in his honor. United Way of the Greater Dayton Area recognized his commitment to children and education by establishing the John E. Moore Giving Society to support CDF Freedom Schools for children in the region.

Prestigious titles and accolades aside, what mattered most to John was using his seemingly endless energy and resources to make a difference in his community.

“We were so very honored and blessed to have had John Moore as part of The Dayton Foundation family. He had an unbelievable amount of commitment to the community, particularly for those most disenfranchised,” Mike Parks said. “One of the most valuable lessons that John taught me was to plan with people and not for people. He continued that work until his passing, and we’re blessed as a community to have had John as a voice for those who needed it most.”

Community leader, retired Deputy City Manager for the City of Dayton and member of The Dayton Foundation’s Governing Board William Gillispie said, “Mr. Moore created some institutions for this community that are still going on and that will live long after none of us are here. I knew Mr. Moore for not only helping young people out, but for doing everything in his power to make sure that the disadvantaged and the people of color are given a fair shake for all the things that they deserve in this community. He will be sorely missed but not forgotten.”

John Moore also served as a mentor to many, including LaTonia McCane for The Dayton Foundation and Board member for Parity, Inc. “I will always be grateful to Mr. Moore for his support and kindness,” LaTonia said. “It would be impossible to count all the ways that he helped me and guided me on the right path.”

Added Marva Cosby, chair of The Dayton Foundation’s Governing Board, “John Moore was a precious asset for the Dayton region. In both large and small ways, he touched the lives of many as he worked tirelessly to help make our community richer. I will truly miss him.”