An afternoon conversation about street trees was one of the first seeds planted that eventually bloomed into the organization we now know as Pride, Inc. Dr. Gordon Moore, a local surgeon, and avid horticulturalists were discussing street trees with the publisher of The Alton Evening Telegraph, Paul B. Cousley. They believed the city’s appearance could be greatly enhanced with the addition of trees along the streets and soon six globe locusts were planted in tree wells around the Stratford Hotel.
Not long afterward Dr. Moore shared his vision of an organization dedicated to beautification to about fifteen community leaders. Dr. Moore felt that most people wanted to improve the look and quality of their community but an organization was needed to educate and coordinate the resources by uniting the communities of the Alton Lake in a positive effort. In 1967 Dr. Moore wrote, “Our community is a good old girl whose face has become a little dirty; let’s wash her face. She has a proud heritage, let’s accentuate her attributes by our positive actions. Her society is an affluent one; let’s use our affluence to relieve her of some of her ugly scars of which she can’t be proud. She will serve you and me and our children in a much more desirable fashion.”
In February of 1966 Pride, Incorporated was formed as a non-profit organization dedicated to the education and stimulation of beautification in the 16 communities surrounding the Alton Lake area. Pride was promoted as a non-political entity that was supported entirely with private funds.
Dr. Moore tapped the best, the brightest and the wealthiest as resources for the new organization. He traveled to countless civic meetings, slide show in hand, demonstrating how each group could contribute to local beautification. His committees were filled with fellow doctors, lawyers, company presidents and members of countless local civic groups. When a committee was formed to attack the littering on Alton Lake and he realized his best tool for the job was the news media, Dr. Moore formed a committee comprised of the Outdoor Writers from the Alton and St. Louis newspapers. Through their campaign, the message was passed to thousands of boaters. For his education committee, Dr. Moore recruited the superintendents of four area school districts.
When Dr. Moore saw a problem in the community that needed attention he would connect a group with a financial resource and get the job accomplished. The organization set a fundraising goal of $95,000 in the first year to cover the first three years’ budgets and pledged to return the money collected if the goal was not reached. The public responded dramatically and the goal was reached in months.
The crowning achievement of Pride’s first 35 years is Gordon F. Moore Community Park. Dr. Moore’s ability to connect labor, business and government in a common goal resulted in a magnificent facility and a source of great community pride.