SGTC honors Moore with tennis court dedication

Published 2:51 pm Saturday, April 14, 2018

AMERICUS — South Georgia Technical College (SGTC) paid tribute to Harold Edward Moore, who served as the Dean of Students at South Georgia Trade and Vocational School for over 28 years, recently by dedicating the newly renovated tennis courts in his honor.
“I am truly overwhelmed and humbled,” said Harold Moore, who recently turned 91 years old. “By the time I get home, I am going to have to take my ‘Jets’ cap and stretch it and stretch it and stretch it to make it fit on my head because of all the nice things people have said about me today. Thank you so much for this honor and thank you to everyone who came today.”
Moore and his wife JoAnn, as well as his daughters, Harriett Rachels and her husband Frankie, and Rosalind Gatian and her husband Doug, were on hand for the ceremony along with grandchildren, community members, former tennis players, retirees, and former students.
“This is a great day for South Georgia Technical College,” said SGTC President John Watford, Ed.D., after an invocation given by the Rev. Bill Dupree. “As we celebrate the 70th anniversary of South Georgia Tech’s founding year, it is only fitting that we take time to honor, not only the students who have passed through the doors, but the many great individuals who built this college to what it is today. One of those individuals is Dean Harold Moore.”
Watford explained that one of the privileges that he enjoys as president is the opportunity to meet with alumni of South Georgia Tech. “Invariably, I will have one ask about Dean Moore and they usually have some very interesting stories and fond memories of him in his role here at the school. Thirty years after his retirement and his legacy of people lives on!” said Watford. “I dare say that I think any of us would consider our career complete if we, too, have graduates who remember us 30 years after we retire!”
In addition to Moore’s work at the school, he had his own way of relieving the stress and pressure of the job and that was with the physical activity of playing tennis. An avid tennis player, he had quite the reputation of being a formidable opponent of the courts of Southwest Georgia and many people still remember his skills. Moore and Dan Rhyne, his doubles partner, were the “team to beat.”
South Georgia Tech began the process of restoring its tennis courts several months ago. The courts were resurfaced, cracks were filled, the fences and light poles were “freshened up” with paint, new nets, and new state of the art LED lighting from Eaton. “And then it seemed only fitting and right that we re-dedicate these courts in honor of Dean Harold Moore, without whom, they wouldn’t be here,” said Watford, who then asked Dean Moore to do the honor of unveiling the dedication plaque.
The brick and marble monument features the SGTC logo with the words, “In honor of South Georgia Tech Dean Harold Moore.”
Harold Moore was hired as the Dean of Students at South Georgia Trade and Vocational School on June 1, 1960, and he served the school for over 28 years before retiring on July 31, 1988. At that time, the school was listed as part of the Vocational Education Department of the State Department of Education.
He and his family lived on campus and as Dean of Students, Moore was responsible for all aspects of students. He was in charge of admitting students and supervising general orientation of all new students. He was also the supervisor for all major discipline problems, the dormitory supervisor, in charge of students’ records, graduation and related activities, veteran affairs and other duties as assigned.
Moore was hired by SGTC Director Horace Odom. He had previously worked at the Bainbridge Air Base in Bainbridge, where he scheduled classes for physical training for pilot trainees for the USAF. He had served as a Pparatrooper in the Army 11th Airborne Division.
Moore worked for South Georgia Tech Directors Odom, Hugh Ford Hayes, and Dea O. Pounders. He also had the opportunity to work with former Presidents Jon Johnson and Sparky Reeves, even though he retired before they were promoted to the president position. He retired before John Watford started working at South Georgia Tech.
After the outdoor dedication ceremony, the invited guests returned to the John M. Pope Industrial Technology Center for a luncheon and a video presentation. Individuals were given the opportunity to make remarks and view a video of Harold Moore from the college’s 65th anniversary tribute.
SGTC Foundation Trustee Bill Harris laughed and said, “Harold used to beat me on the tennis court all the time. Honesty and integrity are the characteristics that he exemplifies. On the tennis courts, if Harold Moore said the ball was in or out, you knew the ball was in or out. There was no questioning his integrity.”
Frank Gassett, a former South Georgia Tech aviation instructor for 25 years, was a student at South Georgia Tech while Moore served as Dean. He later returned to teach and worked with Moore. “Mr. Moore was the best mentor a man could ask for. I love South Georgia Tech and it is an honor to know Harold Moore and the other people associated with this school. Some of the best instructors in the world taught here. I looked up to them and they influenced me to do the things I have done and helped influence me from doing things I shouldn’t do. It is such an honor to have been a part of this institution and to know these fine people,” said Gassett. “I am what I am today because of the people here.”
His wife, Nyoka Gassett, was also a student a South Georgia Tech. “I was on a student scholarship here at South Georgia Tech. Mr. and Mrs. Moore were both great mentors. Mr. Moore reminded me of the importance of work ethics on one particular instance and Mrs. Moore was my business education instructor. She taught me so many things about life as well as business, that I want to tell her how much I appreciate her. We all know that behind a great man is a good woman and she was a great mentor to me as well.”
Jimmy Thaxton, a tennis player, coach, and retired Delta Airlines pilot, said “Harold and Dan Rhyne played everybody in tennis in Americus for over 50 or 60 years. We would frequently play Harold or Dan and I think that many of the people Harold had consistently beat are right here in this room today. As Bill Harris said, his integrity and sportsmanship over the years is to be admired.”
“I played Harold Moore three days a week for 30 years and I think I beat him four times. He beat me like a rented government mule but I loved every minute of it,” said Bill Dragoin, a retired Georgia Southwestern instructor and avid tennis player.
Johnny Fowler, a local businessman, stood up and said, “I am a lot younger than Harold Moore but he was the Roger Federer of South Georgia in the ‘70s. He and Dan Rhyne hit balls with me as a young player and allowed me to shag balls for them before I really knew how to play. They were good mentors and someone to look up to in tennis.”
Garry Turner, who worked at South Georgia Tech for 10 years with Harold Moore from 1978 until 1988, told about the years when there were only two technical colleges in the state — North Georgia Tech and South Georgia Tech. “We had a limited budget but seeing how this college has grown and developed from those early years is really amazing.  I am so proud of this school and what it has accomplished.” He also told a story about how Moore loved to eat and that on one lunch trip to get a hamburger steak at Monroe’s, Moore suggested that they get a little appetizer, a chili dog. “Mr. Moore was a pleasure to work with,” concluded Turner.
Former SGTC President Sparky Reeves said that he worked with Harold Moore for 15 years before Moore retired. “I came to South Georgia Tech at 22 or 23 years of age and I thought I knew everything,” laughed Reeves. “There were a lot of seasoned employees here and when I would suggest this or that, nothing would get done. It didn’t take me long to figure out I needed a mentor to give me good advice. That was Harold Moore. Anything Harold Moore told me was solid. He was grounded. I thank you for your influence,” said Reeves.
Harriett Rachels, one of the Moore’s daughters, took the opportunity to thank everyone for honoring her dad and her family. “Many of you may not know but I am a double amputee. I grew up on this campus. My family lived on campus and we spent our lives here. My dad taught me to play tennis on these courts. At that time there were not titanium blades that people use for sports today; I had to learn to play tennis on plastic and sponge. Paralympic sports are big today but when I was little you didn’t see any of that. My dad and mom never missed a beat with me. My dad taught me to play tennis, to swim, and to fish.  They were doing adaptive sports at South Georgia Tech before anyone knew what adaptive sports were. I am so grateful because it all started here and the impact that this institution had on my life and my family is huge.”
Her sister, Rosalind Moore Gatian, also thanked her parents and the college for the role they played in her life. “My dad tried to teach me to play tennis but it didn’t take. However, I do remember going into the business classes where my mom taught typing on the old typewriters. She would have the keys covered up and I would always ask her how are people going to learn to type if they can’t see the keys,” she laughed.
In closing, Watford thanked Dean Moore and his family and each of the individuals in the room and those who could not be there for their part in helping SGTC reach its 70th anniversary milestone. “South Georgia Tech has a tremendous legacy and on behalf of the students, the faculty, and the staff here today, I would like to say thank you to each of you for leaving us something strong to build on.”