Friday, 28 December 2018 19:43

COLUMN: The world needs more Leroy Moores

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Way back when, in a waterfront neighborhood in Baltimore, I was a young man hanging out with his buddies and such, bouncing from bar to bar and having a good time. We were wild and loose, a tight-knit bunch of folks, regulars in one bar or another. We knew the bartenders and the servers and we could run a tab in our “home bar” and get discounts in the others.

We knew everyone at least by sight, even if we could not recall someone's name. Some of our crowds intermingled when one of us would step outside the core group to date someone from another group. It was okay, though, because that's how Fells Point worked. Fells Point was the Key West of southeast Baltimore in those days. What happened in Fells Point stayed in Fells Point. Fells Point was our paradise and our mayor was Leroy Moore. 

Leroy was not a part of any core group, but he certainly was no outsider. He belonged where no one imagined he would or would want to belong. In a sea of insanity, Leroy was our constant. Outsiders were quick to dismiss Leroy. He was black and most of us were white. He was a local where a lot of us were from somewhere else. He could appear menacing at one moment and childlike the next. I cannot think of a single time, however, when Leroy had a bad word to say about anyone. 

I first met him about 25 years ago, easily dismissing a guy who greeted me cheerfully. I wondered why this guy was asking me how I was and my name and I waited for the catch. I waited for the request for money. It never came. Not that night, not any following night or any time I saw him for the next 20 years. I'd get a handshake and a smile and he would ask how I was. It wasn't small talk. Leroy cared how you were doing. He cared about how everyone was doing. 

Women were “goddesses.”  Men were “buddies.” Leroy would hang around the bars after they closed to make sure the employees got to their cars safely. More than once, he would walk a drunken soul, male or female, all the way home, making sure they got inside unharmed. I had moved away from Baltimore a number of years ago, and had gone to visit. I had not seen Leroy in a long while, nor had my wife.

“Hey, buddy!” 

Turning, we saw Leroy and his million-watt smile. We shook hands and made some small talk and the three of us parted ways.  

A couple of weeks ago, at the age of 56, Leroy Moore died of natural causes. The legacy he leaves is one that has no comparison. A Facebook group which was devoted to Leroy sightings has exploded into a tribute site. His wake was held today and his funeral will be tomorrow. I'm sure the funeral home will have a line out the door. He wasn't a celebrity in the traditional sense. Leroy Moore was a nice guy. Leroy Moore was a decent and good man. That's it. He never asked anything of anyone, yet selflessly gave to others to make sure their day was just a little brighter. He knew of the love we had for him. He just never took more than he needed. 

More than a few of us have said the world needs more Leroys. The world needs more people who just simply care about others. We can learn a lot from a man like Leroy. For a man who never was a celebrity, his life has been celebrated in local Baltimore media. There is an effort to create a Leroy Moore Day in Baltimore. 

I mentioned in the Facebook group that when Leroy approached the pearly gates, he looked St. Peter in the eye, smiled that big smile and said, “Hey, Buddy.”

And, as in southeast Baltimore and Fells Point, Leroy would continue to look out for us all.

 

Last modified on Saturday, 29 December 2018 03:38