Most people haven’t heard of Barbara C. Moore, but those who interacted with her never forgot her.
That’s because Moore, 68, who served as a pivotal figure at Benedict College for more than 40 years and led a 125,000-member, international sorority, largely stayed out of the news.
While feminists and civil rights activists of her generation found their voices in the public eye, the Columbia native was quietly making it easier for women and people of color to get ahead.
That was until Saturday, when she died after becoming suddenly ill, her daughter Walletta Moore-Johnson said.
“She was never a person who wanted the recognition,” Moore-Johnson said. “If you worked with her on a team, she was the one who encouraged everyone to succeed.”
During her career, Moore traveled to high schools throughout the state to enroll students in Benedict College, before becoming the chief fundraiser for the school. In 2016, she was one of the 14 officials who helped select Benedict College’s current president, Roslyn Clark Artis.
“Mrs. Barbara C. Moore was a great friend, a role model, and an inspiration to everyone she met,” Benedict College spokeswoman Kymm Hunter said in a statement. “She was universally loved by faculty, staff, and students throughout Benedict College. She earned the love and respect of the Midland’s community through her many civic engagements. Mrs. Moore will continue to live in our memories and our hearts forever. It was an absolute blessing and honor to know her.”
Moore’s real passion was her sorority, Zeta Phi Beta, Moore-Johnson said.
In 2002, Moore was unanimously elected the president of Zeta Phi Beta, according to a statement from the sorority. During her six-year tenure she established leadership and service groups and led a trip to Ghana in the early 2000s where she and other members of Zeta Phi Beta set up a school and helped build wells, Moore-Johnson said.
“She really wanted to make an impact on women,” Moore-Johnson said. “She really took a stand on women’s healthcare and women’s advancement.”
Those weren’t the only groups Moore was involved in. She was also either a member of, or held a position at several organizations including: the National Association of Female Executives, Council for the Advancement and Support of Education, National Council of Negro Women, Midlands YWCA and the Richland National March of Dimes Foundation, according to the statement from Zeta Phi Beta.
“Moore’s invaluable impact to Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Incorporated and her community will be cherished by us all,” the statement said. “The Zeta sisterhood extends our thoughts and prayers to the family.”
But like anyone, Moore was more than just a walking resume.
Moore-Johnson was an only-child, but when the former had two kids of her own, Moore “doted over them.”
“She was a wonderful mother and grandmother and wife,” said Moore-Johnson.
Moore-Johnson, who works at Benedict College as a grant writer, said she used to talk to her mom every day on the phone before going to work, and then would eat lunch with her every day.
“She guided me in everything I did,” Moore-Johnson said. “She wasn’t just my mother, she was my friend. If you saw her, you saw me.”
Family visitation will begin at 7:30 p.m. on Wednesday, Oct. 31, at Leevy’s Funeral Home on Taylor Street. Moore’s funeral will be at Antisdel Chapel on Benedict College’s campus at 11 a.m. Thursday, Nov. 1.