The bond Rod and Jane Moore share with Mississippi State University resonates beyond themselves. Their connection with the institution extends to their children, Brad and Necole, and the current and future recipients of the endowed scholarships named for them.
The Moores established their first Presidential Endowed Scholarship following Brad’s unexpected 2007 death from complications of pneumonia. He was a 39 year-old faculty member and practicing gastroenterologist at the University of California San Diego Medical Center.
When the Moores announced their intentions to create a scholarship endowment in Brad’s memory, they were honored with an outpouring of support as more than 160 individuals, organizations and businesses helped the couple make the scholarship possible.
Rod understands firsthand the importance of this philanthropy because he maintains a seat on the Mississippi State Foundation Board of Directors as a past president. He earned an accounting degree in 1967 and is the retired executive vice president and CEO of Southern Farm Bureau Casualty Company. He and Jane, a retired registered nurse, are from Meridian and now live in Brandon.
Their gift provides a select Presidential Scholar with up to four years of undergraduate study, along with opportunities to study abroad, intern, and pursue other qualified educational activities as a member of the Judy and Bobby Shackouls Honors College. Presidential Endowed Scholarships are among the most prestigious student financial awards at Mississippi State, and recipients are selected from applicants who are top scholars across the nation.
In 2012, the Dr. Brad Roderick Moore Memorial Presidential Endowed Scholarship was awarded for the first time. Sophomore English major Natalie Jones, the inaugural recipient, says she can’t even begin to describe the many ways in which the scholarship has helped her be successful in her studies.
“I know for a fact that if I had not received this scholarship, the future that I have in front of me would look completely different,” said Jones of Flowood. “This scholarship has literally opened a door of opportunity, and I am so grateful and humbled that I was able to receive such an honor. The Moore family is investing in me and my future, and I want to make them proud.”
Following the establishment of Brad’s scholarship, Rod and Jane generously created a second Presidential Endowed Scholarship in honor of their daughter, Necole Ray, a part-time teacher and full-time mom. Necole graduated from Mississippi State in 1992 with a degree in elementary education and earned her master’s degree in counseling psychology from Mississippi College in 1996.
Necole grew up putting others before herself—something the entire Moore family values. Her college years at Mississippi State were spent keeping up with her studies and volunteering with numerous organizations.
Rod recalled a specific time he and Jane visited Necole on location.
“Necole decided to travel to Mexico and work with children,” Rod remembered. “She spent two summers in a very remote and primitive fishing village. The first time she went to Mexico she couldn’t speak a word of Spanish. Jane and I visited her on one occasion, and we went to the local church where the pastor was preaching in Spanish, and we were very surprised to hear Necole interpreting for him. She always amazes us.”
Jane agreed, saying, “She totally immersed herself in the culture, and she was able to do that very well.”
Following graduation from Mississippi State, Necole began teaching second grade at an inner-city school in Jackson. She not only mentored her students, but she also continued mentoring students outside her school by signing them up for basketball leagues and volunteering to drive them to games. She also organized, collected and distributed Christmas presents to children whose fathers were in prison.
Rod recalled those instances, saying, “She is always thinking of things to do like that to help children.”
Shortly after getting married, Necole and her husband Josh moved to Texas, where Josh attended seminary. Josh and Necole now live with their five children in Birmingham, Alabama, where they continue to volunteer through various mission organizations.
“Necole outdoes us all,” said Rod. “She has one of the biggest hearts you’ll ever find.”
“She doesn’t just think about doing things; she does them,” added Jane.
Helping and caring for others truly encompasses the ideals held by both Brad and Necole, and the Moores hope recipients of the Presidential Endowed Scholarships they established will always remember for whom the awards were created. Through the passion and hard work of each Bulldog recipient, the lives of Brad and Necole will always inspire others to have a positive impact on humankind.
By Clinton Alexander, Photography by Russ Houston