Sharing a Century
Ralph Moor (B.C.S. ’37) celebrates his 100th birthday with Georgia State
Downtown’s tallest structures are the Hurt, Candler and Healey buildings. Short brick shops fill Woodruff Park. Electric trolley tracks run from downtown to the suburbs of Inman Park, Virginia Highland and the West End, and there are no interstates or MARTA rail.
Broad Street and Auburn Avenue are the centers of thriving, yet separate, retail and entertainment districts for the city’s white and black communities. A bustling Union Station spews pedestrians onto Marietta and Peachtree streets. The Great Depression shadows all.
This is the downtown Atlanta freshman Ralph Moor saw 80 years ago while riding the streetcar from his home on Marietta Square to the Georgia Tech Evening School of Commerce. Moor, like Georgia State, celebrates his 100th birthday this year.
Although disinclined to acknowledge it, his intentional journey as a public servant — which found him in the employ of a general, a U.S. senator, university presidents and several Georgia governors — is a model for students today.
Moor graduated in 1937 with a bachelor of science degree and a major in commerce. “Business courses were my interest, and the Evening School was my only choice,” he says during an interview in the well-appointed library of his Buckhead senior living facility, the fire beside his motorized chair crackling and popping.
Working as a secretary at the B. Mifflin Hood Brick Company during the day, he attended classes at night. President George Sparks, Moor remembers, often walked the halls, greeting students and encouraging them in their studies. “He was interested in where his students came from” Moor says, “and would take us along to assist him on his trips. We’d drive to Board of Regents meetings in Milledgeville or Valdosta or other places, and I’d record the motions.”
Upon graduating, Moor was awarded a graduate scholarship and taught typing, shorthand and commerce courses under President Sparks.
Certain by 1939 he would be drafted into the Army, Moor toured upstate New York and Canada and saw the New York World’s Fair. He says this trip fostered his interest in personnel administration.
Moor was commissioned in 1940. He was a casualty correspondent for the War Department in Washington, D.C., and briefly at General Douglas MacArthur’s Pacific Headquarters in Manila. He later joined the Army Reserves and retired a brigadier general.
While in Washington, Moor worked toward a master of arts degree in personnel
administration at George Washington University.
A fraternity brother whose twin worked for Sen. Richard Russell helped advance his goal, introducing Moor to the senator. Moor was Russell’s executive secretary from 1946 to 1948, earning his degree in 1947.
Moor returned to Georgia at the invitation of South Georgia College’s President Will Smith, another friend from Evening College. As academic dean, he taught economics and developed a course in personal finance for two years. He then served with the U.S. Office of Education.
When he was called to lead Georgia’s Office of Personnel Management, the law establishing the Georgia Merit System had been in effect nearly a decade. Commissioner Moor brought a heightened level of professionalism to the state’s employment practices, directing the design and implementation of the human resources tools necessary to implement the new system. Before retiring in 1975, Moor also helped establish the state’s retirement system.
Through the last 80 years, Ralph Moor has served Georgia and the United States as a scribe, a teacher, a leader and a friend.
A hundred years from today, his leadership in the sectors he most loved — personnel and personal finance — will continue to serve as a model for effective public service.