Arvern Moore

‘Mr. Head Start’ dies at age 81

Well-known community leader and educator Arvern Moore died August 2. Moore, 81, was a forerunner for Head Start from the conception of the very successful program. He retired in 2008.

ICS is mourning the loss of a giant of a man, according to the current executive director, Eloise McClinton.

“The children and parents were always a priority for him,” McClinton said. “Many will attest to his strength, dedication and commitment.

“This man lived and breathed Head Start, sharing his thoughts and concerns on the policies that were a guiding force for serving children and families.

“ICS shares with the family the loss of one who will always be remembered for serving children and families with the utmost integrity and professionalism.”

Kate Permenter was Moore’s executive assistant for 36 years, until her retirement.

“We worked very well together,” Permenter said. “He was a wonderful man to work for. We accomplished a lot for Head Start.

“The first six months I worked for him I couldn’t figure out what he wanted. Then, one day it all fell into place. He was the best director of Head Start in the nation.

“I thoroughly enjoyed working for him. One time, after I first started, he went on vacation and left me all his contact numbers -- and a note that said he hoped I didn’t have to call him. I didn’t,” she said laughing.

An eighth grade graduate of Marshall County schools, Moore completed high school at Booker T. Washington High School in Memphis, Tenn. He graduated from Mississippi Industrial College in 1958, at the top of his class. While in college he was a star baseball pitcher and a member of the choir. He completed his master’s degree at Tuskegee Institute in Tuskegee, Ala., and received an honorary doctorate degree in humanities from Rust College in 1999, for his work in education and his leadership abilities.

Moore taught science and coached baseball in McCrory, Ark., for two years and he taught biology, chemistry and physics in the Marshall County School system for six years. In 1967 he became assistant director of Rust College Head Start and was later promoted to director of the ICS Head Start program (name change), where he remained for 40 years.

Moore served as executive director of Mississippi Action for Progress Head Start in Jackson from 1980-1981. He also served terms as president of the Mississippi Head Start Association, of Region IV Head Start Association  and the National Head Start Association.

Moore lived and loved Head Start. In a speech before the U.S. House of Representatives, former Rep. Travis Childers referred to Moore as “Mr. Head Start.” He loved his employees and the 3,600 children at Head Start.

He was a member of Anderson Chapel CME Church, where he started and taught the young adult Sunday school class. He was also a member of Omega Psi Phi Fraternity Inc.

Moore was very active in the Civil Rights movement. He was president of the local NAACP for many years. He and his wife Anita were the first African Americans to register to vote in Holly Springs, after the Voting Act passed in 1964.

He had many firsts in his life – the first in his family to finish college, the first to get a master’s degree in the county schools, the first African American to direct a multi-million dollar program in Marshall County and the first Head Start director to hold the positions of state, regional and national Head Start CEO.

For service date and times, please see Moore’s obituary on Page 2.

Holly Springs South Reporter

P.O. Box 278
Holly Springs, MS 38635
PH: (662) 252-4261
FAX: (662) 252-3388
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