Descendants of Willis and Ellen Moore celebrated their 19th biennial family reunion at the Hawthorne Inn in Winston–Salem July 1-3.
Family patriarch Willis Moore was born on June 4, 1842, and matriarch Ellen Gilbert Moore, was born Nov. 24, 1857. They were married on Oct. 8, 1876, and raised 12 children — Walter, Daisy, Everett, Silas, Verlie, Early, Carrie, Colonel, Roy, Nellie, Robert and Lue Ellen Moore — in the foothills of North Carolina.
Military records show that Willis volunteered to serve in the U.S. Army in Boone on April 14, 1865 and was paid $100 for his service, suggesting that he was most likely not a slave at the time he enlisted. Willis and Ellen Moore purchased their first of several plots of land for $650 in Surry County on Dec. 24, 1902, parts of which are still home to several descendants.
The first Willis and Ellen Moore reunion was held in Beckley, West Virginia July 5-6, 1980, and it has continued uninterrupted for 36 years. The officers for the 2016 reunion were Queen Thompson, Suzanne Bond, Golda Ellis, Linda Carter, James Ingram Berry and Karen Burns. The event was filled with lots of love, fun, fellowship, laughter and a wonderful joyous reunion spirit.
The weekend began with registration on Friday afternoon, Followed by the family reunion buffet dinner and dance where everyone was adorned in the reunion theme colors of purple and white. Reunion program chairman Karen Burns served as mistress of ceremonies for the dinner program held in the Sycamore Ballroom that was decorated in the theme colors.
The program included a family history display, ice breaker activities led by Tori Moore-Withers, a reunion video created by Bria Berry-Holly featuring candid shots of family members and historically significant events occurring since the previous reunion, a memorial tribute by James Ingram and Margaret Berry, and a family history presentation by Golda Ellis.
A modern dance was presented by Kayla Burns, Hannah Meredith, Rebecca Meredith, and Sarah Meredith and gifts were awarded to the family member that had travelled the furthest – Eleanor Bankston – the eldest family member present – Mrs. Lula Mae Moore – the most recent graduate – Bria Berry-Holly – and the youngest member present – Rockell McDonald. Christian Meredith served as the MC for the dance that followed the program.
On Saturday the day began early with a Career Forum organized by Dr. Gloria Berry-Holly and Dr. Tyra Leazer Holman. The forum was the brainchild of Suzanne Bond, vice president of the reunion. The following family members shared their career experiences: Eddie Carter as commercial tractor trailer driver; Andre Carter as a master chef; Marcus Leazer as an entrepreneur and certified financial planner; Dr. Tyra Leazer as a toxicologist; Marli Bennett as an athletic administrator and coach; Doris Penn as a retired government employee; Alexis Bond as an educator; Suzanne Bond as director of a government agency; and Karen Burns as an entrepreneur.
The forum culminated with a presentation by Melanee Bennett, a retired scientist, who focused on current job search strategies and effective resume design. Bria Berry-Holly provided technical support and Maggie Holly served as mistress of ceremonies for the forum.
It was wonderful to hear family members share their personal experiences regarding their careers and passions. The words “opportunity, sacrifice, mastering your skill and a good work ethic” resonated throughout the presentations. The forum was filled with wonderful, useful and enlightening career information for the benefit of those approaching college age and those navigating the job market. Door prizes were donated by Dr.’s Tyra Leazer Holman and Gloria Berry-Holly.
On Saturday afternoon the reunion cookout was held at Tanglewood Park in Clemmons. The first Annual Pound Cake Bake-off was one of the highlights of the afternoon. Dr. Gloria Berry-Holly won the baking contest, using her mother and co-founder of the Willis and Ellen Moore Family Reunion, Lurenda Berry’s, recipe. Judges for the bake-off were Amanda Travis; Mary Gwyn and Helen Berry. Another highlight of the cookout was an awesome homemade ice cream in a bag activity organized and presented by Evette Hughes, Cheyenne Hughes, Patty Little and their families.
It was delicious and such a hit on a really hot afternoon. Other standouts at the cookout were the games organized by Karen Burns and the delicious food. Family members sported beautiful purple and white reunion tee-shirts courtesy of Mike Berry who worked with a vendor to bring the design ideas of the planning committee to life.
The reunion culminated on Sunday morning with a fellowship praise and worship service at the Hawthorne Inn (Laurel Learning Center). Family member Minister Dr. Lizzie Penn James was the speaker of the hour. Her message was taken from the scripture(s) Job 14:1 and Job 1:1, with the topic “True Faith will take you through the Storms of Life.” A salute was made to Madge Haynes, an elder of the family, acknowledging her presence throughout all the weekend of events.
Planning for the 20th Biennial Willis and Ellen Moore Family Reunion has already begun with the new reunion officers having been selected. They are Charles Moore-president, Karen Burns-vice president, Lori Glenn-treasurer, Maggie Holly-recording secretary, Terri Moore-program chairman, James I. Berry parliamentarian and a host of family members on board to assist. The reunion will be held in Detroit, Michigan June 29-July 1, 2018.