Eulogy For Maurice Moore

Date Published: 
Guyanese Online
Vibert Lampkin

Maurice Montague Moore was one of the great all-round Guyanese sportsmen of his generation.

Maurice was born on the 8th day of March 1932 in Georgetown, Guyana, the younger of the two children of Stanley and Hyacinth Moore. Both of his parents predeceased him. His mother, a long time member of the Senior Guyanese Friendship Association in Toronto, died in Canada in 1981. His father died in Guyana in 1984. Maurice died on the 8th day of January 2012, two months shy of his 80th birthday.

His three children, Roger, Trevor and Karen, his four grandchildren, his sister Colleen, his two nieces and his two great nephews survive him.

He attended St. Ambrose Primary School before going on to Queen’s College in 1943 and graduated in 1951, having successfully taken the General Certificate of Education (Ordinary Level) of the Universities of Oxford & Cambridge in 1949 and the General Certificate of Education (Advanced Level) of the University of London in 1951. When he entered Sixth Form in 1949 he was appointed a Prefect of the school.

Upon graduation Maurice joined the Guyana Civil Service working in the Audit Department for a number of years. However he did not cease his education. He took correspondence courses and became a qualified Accountant and a Chartered Secretary.

He subsequently worked with the Demerara Bauxite Company, which brought him to Canada in 1971. After a number of years with Alcan, Demba’s parent company in Canada, he joined the Ontario Provincial Government Service and finally he worked at IBM.

But it is for his athleticism, perhaps more than anything else that we remember him. He excelled in football, cricket, hockey and table tennis. I once heard it said that ‘Maurice Moore had the best ‘ball sense’ of anyone of his era’.

He represented Queen’s College in football during his junior and senior years where he was described as ‘a hard kicking centre-half and a fearless tackler’. He went on to follow in the footsteps of his legendary father Stanley Moore of the historic Victoria Football Club, and played for and eventually captained the national team.

Maurice also represented Queen’s College in Case Cup (first division) cricket.

With typical witticism his former cricket captain Arnold Gibbons, retired Professor of Communications, Hunter College, New York University, wrote the following comment about Maurice on the cricket field: ‘a quick-footed player with a keen eye, but generally uses his footwork to the bowler’s advantage, for he has succeeded in being leg-before more times than not … Has a dislike for catches, especially the lofty ones, which he seldom takes and frequently avoids’.

Maurice must have improved his prowess in cricket immensely because he was later captain of the prestigious British Guiana Cricket Club’s first division team. Earl John, then Assistant Personnel Manager, Blairmont Estate, Berbice, persuaded Maurice to use his influence as captain to accept the young, unknown Roy Fredericks from the neighbouring village of Ithaca to become a member of his team.

This gave Fredericks the opportunity to play first class cricket in Georgetown and thus be exposed to mentors of the calibre of Clyde Walcott and Robert Christiani. We all know that Roy Fredericks went on to be a legend in West Indies cricket.

Maurice was also included in QC’s Hockey XI, playing at ‘outside left’ and, according to the QC magazine, ‘showing good stickwork’. He went on to represent the BGCC in Hockey.

It is however in the field of table tennis that his prowess peaked and for which Guyanese will remember Maurice best. He represented and captained the Queen’s College team in table tennis.

Thereafter he was captain of Invaders Table Tennis Club, which was the most successful table tennis club in Guyana in the 1950’s and early 60’s. When Invaders entered their first championship competition, they lost to the reigning champion YMCA but won every national championship thereafter.

Maurice teamed up with Godfrey Denny to play doubles in table tennis and they never lost a doubles championship from 1950 to 1961 when Denny left to reside in Jamaica. Maurice himself was national singles table tennis champion on several occasions during those years.

Monty Clarke, another acclaimed all-rounder – skillful in cricket and football – recalls his rivalry with Maurice in one final championship match. He was leading Maurice comfortably; but, as he said, Maurice was a fighter, and to his amazement, Maurice fought back to win the match and the championship. After migrating to Canada Maurice represented Canada at international table tennis competitions.

There are two things that many people may not know about Maurice. Yes, we all talk about his prowess in terms of the ball games. But not many of us know that he was also an ardent chess player, at a time when the game was not widely played in Guyana. He also loved music and was an accomplished pianist. This was indeed a talented man with a wide variety of interests.

My association with Maurice was mainly through the Penumbrians. And who, you might well ask, were the Penumbrians? They were a group of young men who came together in the early 1950’s to analyse and comment on issues of the day in Guyana. British Guiana, as it then was, was about to hold its first general elections under adult suffrage.

The kernel of idea came from Aubrey Bishop and Frank Mongul, two friends of Maurice, who met, discussed and agreed to create a formal association. Aubrey then convened a group who had all been friends at various high schools in Georgetown. Now the idea itself was born on the evening of February 23, 1953, a night when there was a partial eclipse of the moon over the sky in Guyana.

The name ‘Penumbrian’ was chosen, harking back to the Latin word ‘penumbra’ denoting the partial shade of the night sky at the birth of the group. The motto ‘Amistad, Fraternidad, Y Honor’ – Friendship, Brotherhood and Honour – was adopted.

We met regularly and frequently published a Pen-Letter voicing our thoughts and opinions. Some people called us dreamers – others referred to us as young leftists. But we also had a lighter side – we held an annual cricket match and an annual Old Year’s Night Dance – yes, ‘Penumbrian Parties’ became quite popular. Happily we were all blessed with the best education the country had to offer.

Looking back over the last sixty years, although many of us have spread our wings far and wide, it is difficult to find a group of men from one association that has played a more significant role in the life of the country.

From our group we have had a President of Guyana – Desmond Hoyte; the Chancellor of the Judiciary, the highest judicial officer in the country – Aubrey Bishop; Ministers of Government – Rashleigh Jackson; Diplomats; Heads of Government Departments; Permanent Secretaries; upper echelon Civil Servants; University Professors; Teachers, Veterinary Surgeons; Economists; Accountants, Judges, Lawyers and Businessmen.

Many of our number have passed on – we are all in our 70’s and 80’s now – but it is that spirit of friendship and brotherhood that has kept us in touch with each other throughout the world; that spirit of friendship and brotherhood that kept us in touch with Maurice during his illness.

Some of us are here in Canada and three of us are here today – Vivian Wong, better known as ‘Bungy’, and Carl Benjamin better known as ‘Benjie’, are here with me to say our last goodbye to Maurice.

And so I say as a Penumbrian to his children and grand-children, his sister, his nieces, his great-nephews and all his friends:

‘Like the voice of a bird singing in the rain, let grateful memory survive in the hour of darkness’.

Vibert Lampkin.