By David Moore

Inman Moore, longtime United Methodist minister, civil rights activist and Pasadena businessman, died peacefully Jan. 26. He was 96.

 Moore lived a long, rich life full of service to others and to his faith, which guided him on a courageous and inspiring journey that he chronicled movingly in his autobiography, written at age 90, entitled “On the Road to Civil Rights.”

 His large extended family, who loved and admired him, felt that as he was passing from this life he was somehow rejoining his wife, soulmate and business partner, Nellie Moore. They had been married for 73 years when she passed in February 2021.

Moore is survived by children Linda Moore, Robert Moore and David Leon Moore (and predeceased by daughter Patricia Ramsey); grandchildren Saul Henson, Marisa Simon-Moore, Nate Moore, Sarah Ruth Moore, Anna Moore and Nellie Ramsey; and four great-grandchildren.

 Moore grew up in southern Mississippi, the son of a Methodist minister. He had planned to go to medical school but, after serving in the Navy during World War II, he returned to Mississippi set on following in his father’s footsteps.

He attended Millsaps College in Jackson, Miss., and received a graduate degree in theology from the Candler School of Theology at Emory University in Atlanta.

 He served various churches in southern Mississippi and gradually became a leader in the burgeoning civil rights movement in the segregated state, serving as a founding member of the Mississippi Human Relations Council.

 In 1963, while pastor at the prominent Leggett Memorial United Methodist Church in Biloxi, Miss., he was one of 28 Mississippi Methodist ministers who signed a statement titled “Born of Conviction” that opposed the continuation of a segregated society.

 It was a courageous stand, and some of the signees were locked out of their own churches and some received death threats. Many of them ended up leaving the state, and many of them ended up in California.

 Moore moved in April 1963 with his family to California to take the pastorate at Palmdale United Methodist Church. In 1967, he moved to La Crescenta and ministered at Crescenta Valley United Methodist.

In 1970, he took early retirement from the ministry and he and Nellie began a career in business. They created two successful companies in Pasadena — Moore Vending and Tournament Souvenirs. They sold the businesses and retired in 1997.

Moore hardly retired, though. Still a member of the United Methodist Conference, he frequently was called to serve. When Grace United Methodist, a mostly Black congregation in Altadena, couldn’t afford a full-time minister, Moore served in a part-time capacity for four years. He came out of retirement again to serve nearly five years as the associate pastor at First United Methodist in Burbank. He also served as guest pastor at numerous churches in southern California and for years was active in civic and charitable organizations in and around Pasadena, particularly those that promoted civil rights and social justice.

On June 9, 2019, Inman and Nellie, along with Congressman Adam Schiff, were honored by ACT, a local political organization, for their decades of ethical leadership in and around Pasadena. At the ceremony, Schiff remarked, “When I think of ethical leadership on a national level, I think of (legendary civil rights leader) John Lewis. When I think of ethical leadership on a local level, I think of Inman Moore and Nellie Moore.”

In Methodist circles, Moore will be remembered not just for his courageous stand on racial justice but also for being one of the most skilled preachers of his generation. In the pulpit, Inman Moore was a force of nature. He mastered his craft, blending scripture, poetry, family anecdotes, Biblical scholarship, corny jokes and a love of all things Dodgers into 20-minute sermons that at some point would inevitably find him on his toes, his hands in the air, his heart (and the congregation’s) soaring. He could, as his beloved Vin Scully would say of flame-throwing Dodgers pitcher Sandy Koufax, bring it.

In Moore circles, he will be remembered for all that but also for his humanity — his curiosity, adventuresome spirit, quirky personality and endearing foibles. And for his great loves — Nellie, the Dodgers, cards and Cayucos. He and Nellie were Dodgers season-ticket holders for many years, and spent many blissful (some not) evenings in Dodger Stadium. At one point, he was a regular contract bridge player and reached Life Master status.

He loved spending a week or two with his family on the beach in Cayucos every summer. He had a mighty left-handed Wiffle ball swing for a while. He was forever fumbling with a cheap beach-shop kite but every once in a while could get it to soar like an eagle. He loved a game of hearts or poker in the evening. On a sunny day, he could watch pelicans diving for a fish dinner for hours.

We can still hear him, excitedly, calling out, “Nellie, would you look at that?”

Now they can look together again.

Donations can be made in Inman Moore’s memory to his favorite charity, The Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson's Research, michaeljfox.org. His memory will be a blessing forever.