DAVID LEROY MOORE, DDS
June 30, 1951 to November 8, 2019
A star from the start
David Leroy Moore—a beloved father, Naval officer, and dentist whose vibrant personality, sense of humor, and dedication to disadvantaged children and communities will long be remembered—passed away at the Veterans Affairs Hospital in La Jolla, on November 8th, his children, grandchildren, and sister at his side.
He was 68.
David, shown with daughter Tiffany above, was a star from the start. His best friend, Byron Duvall, recalls meeting him at Meharry Medical College in Nashville in 1976. “Dave was the budding senior, about to graduate top in his class, both scholastically and technically. All of his classmates respected his work and felt he had the it factor,” Byron said.
That was proven when a frantic classmate, doing “bootleg” dentistry on a stranger he had just met, was trying to pull a tooth and it broke. “He panicked, and then got super-student Dave,” Byron said. “In no time, Dave had removed the tooth and the patient was gone. He became a legend that day.”
Known for terrorizing his sister
The youngest of two children, David was born June 30, 1951, in Oklahoma City, OK, to Leroy G. Moore, Jr., a football and basketball coach at Arkansas A & M University, and Prairie View A & M; and Theodra Crowell Moore, who was the registrar’s assistant at Prairie View A & M University.
David and his sister Sandra were raised in Prairie View, TX, in a loving, family-oriented, historically, black college town, where he learned the value of an education early. Growing up, David took great pleasure in terrorizing his sister. He would stand over her bed in a big black coat and scare her awake; and he once put a frog in her bed, terrifying her of frogs to this day.
An active child, David was a Boy Scout and played baseball. After graduating from Waller County High School, he was accepted, at age 16, at Langston University, OK, in 1973 and pledged Kappa Alpha Psi. His friends described him as a disciplined and focused scholar. After acquiring a degree in Biology, he went on to Meharry Medical College in Nashville, TN, where he graduated with a Doctor of Dental Surgery (DDS) in June of 1977.
While at Meharry, he met and married Freida Grimes Moore, a fellow dental student. Their first child, David Bryan, came along in January, 1977. Following graduation from Meharry, David joined the U.S. Navy in July of that year, spending four years as a Lt. Commander and Naval Dentist in San Diego, where daughter Tiffany was born in March, 1979.
Upon completion of his military obligations, David and his family moved to St. Louis, MO, where he opened a private practice with his wife, in January, 1981. Once again, he met up with Byron Duvall, also a practicing dentist.
“I was a new Meharry graduate trying to find my way,” Byron said, “and he was a thriving entrepreneur with the booming dental practice. He went on to establish one of the most successful dental practices in the St. Louis area, with both common folk and celebrities as patients.” His staff called him “Dr. Giggles” because of his laugh, jokes, and upbeat personality. He made many friends and kept them for life.
Along with Moore Dental Center, David was co-founder of Gateway to Oral Health, a nonprofit organization that treated thousands of poor and underserved children in disadvantaged communities. He served as a board member, as well as a treating dentist and director of quality control.
Although David and Freida’s marriage didn’t last, Bryan & Tiffany feel “the business, family, and home they created was full of love and laughter.”
Tiffany recalls her dad “helping us with homework and making my brother and me breakfast every morning, with a Flintstone vitamin on the napkin, before we caught the school bus.” There were summers playing in backyard pool, trips to visit relatives in various parts of the country, and family vacations to Hawaii and the Caribbean—so David could scuba dive.
“They provided us with a sense of adventure, community, and pride,” Tiffany added.
The Midnight Ramble
David adored fishing, playing golf, watching football, and long-distance running. Tiffany remembers her dad “waking up early and running in his New Balance shoes.” He also enjoyed biking, especially when he could take the family to the Midnight Ramble, an all-night bike marathon in downtown St. Louis. A nature lover, he sought refuge at the beach, collecting shells and rocks. He also bird-watched the hummingbirds on his balcony.
As a young adult, David was tall, about 6.1, slender, and handsome, with greenish turquoise eyes, and wavy brown hair. In the 70’s, he boasted a big afro, but in the 80’s his hairline receded. He also grew a beard now and then and would often look over his glasses at you while talking. Due to his later illness and love of deserts, especially cookies, his mid-section ballooned.
David’s third child, Anthony Tyler Spate, was born in 1993, and is following his dad’s example and by graduating from dental school in the spring of 2020. Additionally, when Anthony got the call that his father’s health was failing, he dropped everything to spend the last week with him. Tiffany and Bryan also followed in their dad’s footsteps by joining the military, Bryan in the Marine Corps and Tiffany in the Army National Guard.
The best Christmas ever
Bryan and Tiffany were thrilled when their parents united for a family Christmas a few years back. “My brother and I recall that Christmas as being one of the best ever because we were able to spend it with both of our parents, our spouses and our children,” Tiffany said. “We spent the day at Sea World, and afterwards we went out for Chinese food.”
David made the decision to retire to San Diego to be closer to family, watch his grand kids grow up, and be a constant loving presence in their lives. This was almost four years to the day of his passing.
His grandchild, Bryan, said that his “Hampa”, as the kids affectionately called Dave, had a way of putting things in a positive perspective that helped him a lot. He also gave Bryan advice he will never forget.
In his last years, David suffered from COPD, as well as IgG4 disease, a chronic inflammatory condition. He spent three months in the VA hospital before he passed. In the weeks preceding his death, the doctors were optimistic that he would be discharged, but his health took a turn for the worse. During that time, he taught his children how to accept death and made a point of telling them how much they meant to him and that he loved them.
He never lost his sense of humor.
David. butt dialed his son Bryan, then apologized, saying “Sorry Bryan, I just booty called you.” Bryan laughed, saying, “Dad, that is not what a booty call is.” Dave, of course, knew that.
David is survived by his children, David Bryan Moore (wife Lorena); Tiffany Carole Martin (husband Andrew), and Anthony Tyler Spates; his sister, Dr. Sandra Moore; grandchildren, Chris, Bryan, David, Josephine, and Julia; and nieces, nephews, cousins and friends.
His funeral is scheduled for Monday, December 16, 2019 at 12:30PM, at Miramar National Cemetery, 5795 Nobel Drive, San Diego, CA 92122.