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Old 11-19-2002, 06:54 PM
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Daveswife Daveswife is offline
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In Memory of Rex Moore, Jr.

In July 1992, Rex Moore Jr. touched my heart when I read his story “Walking Tall in Toastmasters” published in The Toastmaster magazine. On that evening, my life took a new direction. Because of Rex, I started volunteering in prison, which eventually led me to begin working on and becoming the co-author of “Chicken Soup for the Prisoner’s Soul” in 1997.

Because Rex influenced me so much, I decided I had to visit him in Oklahoma in May 1998 at a special Toastmasters meeting of The New Dawn Toastmasters Club. I can still remember preparing for the speech I would deliver there. In front of my fellow Toastmasters, I practiced it at lunchtime the day before I left. I was so full of emotion, that it was the first time that I ever broke down, speaking in front of a group. I took 2 days of vacation from my engineering job and used a frequent traveler ticket to visit him. Rex’s son picked me up at the airport and put me up for the evening.

Rex and I have corresponded since 1992, and he mentored me as we charted a new Toastmasters Club in Delaware, which we named “Walking Tall Toastmasters.” Rex was included as a charter member. Still ten years later, the club meets every Monday evening at Gander Hill Prison in Wilmington, Delaware.

Below is what I heard recently from Rex’s son…


“Tom, I am very sorry to inform you that my dad (Rex Moore, Jr.) passed away last Tuesday, October 22. Dad took a turn for the worse about three months ago. His leukemia, which had been in remission, came back very suddenly, and the doctors said there was little they could do. Dad knew the end was coming soon. He was very much at peace with himself, God and everyone around him. He and I spoke about the end, and he had everything planned out for us. That was typical Dad. Even in his situation, he was always trying to help, my brother and me. He will be loved and missed by us all, and I truly believe he is in a better place now.

Toastmasters meant so much to Dad. It gave him a great deal of pride in his achievements through the club. Although, he would get the biggest smile while talking about all the other people he had helped in the club.

Over the years I have gained a tremendous respect for my father. In 1985, he was thrown into the incarceration system--truly a “duck out of water.” Neither he nor anyone else in our family had ever been remotely associated with life behind the bars. I personally was in complete shock, but Dad never complained. He literally hit the ground running, never looking back and always looking forward. He was always thinking of a better life and dreaming of his life after he got out. I feel that is what made Dad so successful. He never gave up. Most people measure success by monetary values. Dad’s success can be measured by all of the lives he has touched. God has a purpose for all of us, and Dad has served his purpose. I will miss him everyday, but I know he is in a better place.

Tom, you meant a lot to my dad and came into his life when he needed a good friend, and I want to thank you for your friendship. If you ever come through Oklahoma City do not hesitate to call.”

Randy Moore


Rex will always have a special place in my heart. I know he is praying for us from above. His story “Walking Tall in Toastmasters” is included in the book “Chicken Soup for the Prisoner’s Soul,” and through that Rex will continue to inspire and encourage people to do good--whether they are behind bars or not. Rex also has a story published in the book “Touched by Angels of Mercy.”

Donations to “Walking Tall Toastmasters” will be accepted in memory of Rex Moore, Jr. to help fund “Chicken Soup for the Soul” books for young men and women in detention centers. Please send your tax-deductible donations to:

Walking Tall Toastmasters

PO Box 7816

Wilmington, DE 19803


Walking Tall in Toastmasters

by Rex Moore, Jr.

from “Chicken Soup for the Prisoner’s Soul”

It was a cold winter night, a silent, freezing rain was falling, and I was alone. Only a few hours earlier, I had arrived at an Oklahoma prison with a life sentence. I felt hopeless, alone, and lost to the world.

Pulling my denim coat-collar tightly around my neck to ward off the cold, I walked past the bulletin board, looking for something--anything--to lessen my anguish. As others shuffled quietly through the hall, I stepped closer, squinting into the dim light. Then, I felt someone close to me and quickly turned. A huge hulk was smiling at me.

It was one of those broad smiles that would grab anyone, and worth a million to me at that moment. The smile belonged to an old humped over man in prison garb like mine. His eyes almost disappeared into the folds of his eyelids, sparkling in the faint light.

He said, "I'm Wilbur. C'mon with me to Toastmasters."

“What on earth is that?” I asked.

Wilbur explained, “We help each other become better at public speaking.”

At my first meeting of the New Dawn Club, I was greeted enthusiastically by the members. Wilbur introduced me as his friend and guest, and I soon felt like one of the group.

I noticed that my new friend was busy all evening. He put out ash trays, greeted people at the door, and served several pots of coffee. My cup was kept full during the entire meeting. As the meeting progressed, I noticed that Wilbur took no part. Oh, he listened attentively, and he always continued clapping a second or two after everyone else had stopped. In fact, I thought this was one guy who really enjoyed attending meetings.

Later, I discovered that Wilbur wasn't a member. As someone said, "Wilbur just shows up, he doesn't belong. He doesn't bother anyone." I knew then that Wilbur needed a friend more than I did.

Looking back, I guess ol' Wilbur was a little slow. Concerned with my own needs, I hadn't noticed it at first. Although Wilbur got along with everyone, he was considered a little strange.

As time went on, going to Toastmasters proved to be a lifesaver. Realizing that this could be a springboard to growth and betterment, I soon became a member, and eventually served in leadership positions. All the time Wilbur was my mentor, my close friend and advisor. I counted on him, and he never let me down.

Once while I was President, a member was giving me a hard time over Robert's Rules of Order. The guy had me against the wall and wasn't letting up. At an opportune time in the midst of the argument, Wilbur jumped to his feet and said, "I move that all discussion cease!" Before Wilbur could sit down, and before anyone could come up with a "second," the matter was over. To this day, I'm still not sure whether it was done correctly.

Usually nobody took much notice of Wilbur. But he was well aware when his friend was in trouble, and he used Robert's Rules to an exactness that amazed everyone. He would wink at me, smiling that infectious smile of his, as he poured coffee for the man who had challenged me. He would even pat the guy on the back. That's just the way Wilbur was.

Still, Wilbur hadn’t ever spoken at our meeting. One evening, when I was the host of the meeting, I looked over at Wilbur, and his smile told me he was ready.

I said, "Wilbur, in two minutes, tell us about your life on the streets." He arose with a flourish that astonished everyone. Holding his clasped hands together at his chest almost angelically, he said, "I would be most happy to speak on that subject." And he did so for a full two and a half minutes.

He told of his years on the oil fields, and how he had fallen from a high derrick, and had to spend many months in the hospital, and of the steel plate he still carried in his skull. The crowd sat motionless, and at the end of the speech, it was as if a heavy load had been lifted from the entire group.

As I advanced through Toastmasters, I began to realize that this was more than a club -- it was a challenge, a call to do better and reach out for full potential. I began to see it as a dare to envision something closer to perfection than we had known before. I saw it as a rare opportunity to help those who had been denied. I was astonished to realize I was changing, just as Wilbur was.

One evening we presented Wilbur with a completed membership application and announced that the club had voted to pay his membership fee. Wilbur wasn't smiling then; instead, there was a tear in the corner of his eye. "Thank you," he said, and he continued pouring coffee. As soon as the attention no longer focused on him, he glanced at me and winked.

Wilbur gave his first speech without my help. Looking back, though, I believe it was at this point we switched positions, and I became Wilbur's mentor.

We noticed that Wilbur didn't speak for a long time. He passed up several opportunities, and I began to wonder why. Then, one day Wilbur offered to speak in place of an absent member. He was well prepared, wearing his best prison clothes, sporting a new haircut, and his warm smile.

His assignment was to understand the mood and feelings of the audience, to put those feelings into words, and to inspire us. Wilbur did it all that night. Speaking about "Friendship and What it Means to Me," he spoke eloquently, carefully emphasizing important words--words he had not dared use before -- and pronouncing each one perfectly. I was amazed at his growth.

He spoke of how much he appreciated the club's acceptance of him, and the depth of the friendships he made. He spoke of leaving the prison soon, and of his pride in achieving his goals. Then he quietly sat down.

I realized that a gradual change had occurred in Wilbur. He moved slowly, and his step was not as sure as before. But he still retained his warm smile and that incredible sparkle in his eyes.

I saw the whole purpose of Toastmasters fulfilled in my friend Wilbur. He had developed self-esteem and was able to communicate with others confidently. I knew that Wilbur would make a positive contribution to his community. What more can an organization do?

Am I giving too much importance to this? I don't think so. I've seen miracles in our prison group. I'm no longer surprised to see men come alive and work toward goals they once could not envision.

Not long after he left prison, we heard that Wilbur died. Those of us at New Dawn weren't surprised to hear that his most prized possessions, his Toastmasters International certificates, were framed and sitting on the table by his bed at the end.

For years after, I still stopped by the bulletin board on my way to our meeting. I’d hesitate just long enough to turn and look behind me, expecting to see, even in the dim light, a huge hulk smiling back at me.

Rex Moore, Jr.

Reprinted with permission by Toastmasters International. For information on joining or starting a club near you, write P.O. Box 9052, Mission Viejo, CA 92690, call 1-800-9WE-SPEAK, or see Web site: www.toastmasters.org

Walking Tall in Toastmasters. Rex R. Moore, Jr. ©1992. Rex R. Moore, Jr. Based on article of the same name from The Toastmaster magazine, July 1992, pp 22-23. Reprinted by permission of Toastmasters International ©1992. Published by Toastmasters International, P.O. Box 9052, Mission Viejo, CA 92690.

Rexford R. Moore, Jr. was a geologist, serving a life sentence. He was a successful oil and gas producer for 35 years before being imprisoned. He died on October 22, 2002.

Until November 23, 2002, you may read about Rex at:


Rexford Raymond Moore Jr.

Rexford Raymond Moore, Jr. died October 22, 2002 at the age of 75. He was born in Seminole, Oklahoma, May 30, 1927 to Rexford and Mattie K. Moore. He attended the Oklahoma Military Academy and graduated from the University of Oklahoma. He is survived by his sister, Rosalind Rebecca Moore Miller, and husband, Herbert; children Rexford Raymond Moore III, and wife Tami, Randall King Moore, and wife Kimberly, Amanda Lee Moore, and Jonathan Christian Moore, his grandchildren Clif Moore, Cody King Moore, Hannah Moore and Rachel Addison Moore. Memorial Services for family and friends will be held on Friday, October 25, 2002, at 11:30 a.m. at Westminster Presbyterian Church, 4400 N. Shartel Avenue. If desired the family wishes that in lieu of flowers any memorial contributions be made to The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, 3613 N.W. 56th, Suite 230, OKC, OK 73112.

Published in the Oklahoman from 10/24/2002 - 10/25/2002.


Coming Soon to…

Sarasota, Florida

and Owings Mills, Maryland

If you are a staff person or volunteer or know someone who can help arrange a jail, prison, or youth detention center visit in the Sarasota, Florida or Owings Mill, Maryland areas, please let me know. I’d love to present a 60 to 90-minute interactive presentation based on “Chicken Soup for the Prisoner’s Soul.” E-mail: Success@TomLagana.com


"Chicken Soup for the Volunteer's Soul" available in bookstores and on-line.
See our Links at:



"Chicken Soup for the Prisoner's Soul" available in bookstores and on-line. See our Links at:



For details on how to obtain our books at a quantity discount:

e-mail: Success@TomLagana.com
Web site: http://www.TomLagana.com

All the Best,

Co-Author "Chicken Soup for the Prisoner's Soul"
Co-Author "Chicken Soup for the Volunteer's Soul" (July 15, 2002)
Tom Lagana ~~ Success@TomLagana.com ~~ http://www.TomLagana.com
Success Solutions ~~ PO Box 7816, Wilmington DE, 19803
"Tom is a professional speaker and author, helping people become their

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The lotus root snaps, but its fibers stay joined.
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Old 11-20-2002, 04:20 PM
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danielle danielle is offline
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Join Date: Apr 2002
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I loved that story - I really hate that he has died. Breaks my heart.
Monica Danielle
On September 22, 2003, my better half came home after 657 days in an Alabama prison!!!

And he's now forever free - passing away from this life and into the next - on January 9, 2010.

My Sweet Wayne
January 21, 1954 - January 9, 2010

I'll always love you.


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