“Through their teaching, research and administration, they made outstanding contributions to the study of race, ethnicity and civil rights,” said Mary Margaret Fonow, professor emeritus and founding director of the School of Social Transformation. “They were a dynamic duo, and their work and lifetime dedication to the success of students and faculty of color had a major impact at ASU.”

After Wade Smith died of cancer in 1994, Moore established the A. Wade Smith Memorial Lecture on Race Relations in his honor. Because Wade Smith devoted his life to the ideal of racial parity, Moore created the lecture to invite the community into discussions about race through lectures with acclaimed academics, activists, journalists and artists. 

Over the lecture’s 25-year history, speakers have included such prominent figures as Mamie Locke, Kimberlé Crenshaw, Danny Glover, Michael Eric Dyson, Henry Louis Gates Jr., Leonard Pitts Jr. and Cornel West. 

The lecture will continue in perpetuity and will be led by Moore’s three sons, who strive to continue elevating and improving race relations at ASU and within the greater community.

“For over 25 years, my mother has done a tremendous job at creating a lecture that has opened the hearts and minds of the community like never before. The Smith family looks forward to working with ASU to continue this work and uphold our parents’ legacies," said ​​Arthur Wade Smith, Moore’s son.

In a 2018 interview with YWCA Metropolitan Phoenix, Moore reflected on her life and career, stating that one of her proudest moments was when she graduated from Stony Creek High School in 1968. She was among the first group of Black students that integrated schools in Sussex County. 

“All the work I had done to get to high school, what I had been through, suffered through, but graduated from, integrating that high school,” Moore recounted. “I was reluctant for my mom to come because I didn’t know what she was going to experience at graduation, but my mother was so proud. I realized what an empowering experience it had been for me and that I could do anything. That’s what it taught me.”

Moore is remembered by her family, colleagues, friends and loved ones as compassionate, warm, dedicated and fearless.

Eduardo Obregón Pagán, associate dean of Barrett, The Honors College at ASU and the Bob Stump Endowed Professor of History, worked with Moore in a number of ways, including on the University Senate. In his experiences with Moore, he said that he and his colleagues knew they could depend on her.

“She was a truth teller, which meant that you could always count on her to say what needed to be said, or what others were thinking but didn’t want to say,” Obregón Pagán said. “She was the kind of person who understood the value of stepping up and stepping forward, and leading by example. We need more Elsies in our lives.”

A tribute service for Moore will be held from 5–6:30 p.m on Monday, March 14, in the Secret Garden, West Hall, on the Tempe campus. Faculty, staff and students are welcome to attend. To learn more or to support the A. Wade Smith Memorial Lecture on Race Relations, visit thecollege.asu.edu/wadesmithlecture.

Emily Balli

Manager of marketing and communications, New College of Interdisciplinary Arts and Sciences