George Paul Moy, 94, of Chinatown, a housing inspector in Philadelphia and a civic activist who saved a Chinatown church from urban renewal, died July 10, from a stroke at his home.
Mr. Moy was born in South Philadelphia, four years after his parents immigrated to the United States from Kwangtung Province, China. An early convert to Catholicism, he began receiving religious instruction at St. Thomas Aquinas Parish.
At age 16 in 1941, he graduated from South Philadelphia High School. The following year, he enrolled at Drexel College under the ROTC program, but didn’t graduate.
He was one of the original members of the Holy Redeemer Chinese Catholic Church in the 900 block of Vine Street.
Although Mr. Moy knew Naomi Young from childhood, it wasn’t until 1950 that they married. They began raising a family in a house on the 800 block of Race Street. Four of their seven children were enrolled in the Holy Redeemer School.
In the early 1960s, the Philadelphia Redevelopment Authority confiscated the family’s home under the right of eminent domain, forcing the family to move to North Philadelphia. The Moy children were transferred to St. Boniface Catholic School on Norris Square.
The Moys later moved to Northeast Philadelphia and then back to Chinatown.
In March 1966, Holy Redeemer Church was threatened with destruction to make way for the planned path of the Vine Street Expressway. Mr. Moy and his sister-in-law, Cecilia, called a town meeting, which produced a committee to save Holy Redeemer. The committee later became the Philadelphia Chinatown Development Corporation, with Mr. Moy as its first president.
“This was no simple task, as the contracts had already been signed and the bulldozers were already rolling,” said his son, Michael, in a eulogy. “With extreme fortitude, they were able to force the state to redesign the project, and Holy Redeemer was saved.”
Mr. Moy was also instrumental in preventing a stadium from being built in Chinatown, as well as a casino.
Skilled at working with his hands, he taught himself electrical work, plumbing, and carpentry, his son said.
Mr. Moy went into business with his brother, Joe, performing home improvements, but in the late 1960s, the financial strain of raising a large family forced him to seek employment as a housing inspector for the Philadelphia Housing Development Corp., responsible for rehabilitating homes in the inner city. He held the job until retiring in the late 1980s.
In retirement, Mr. Moy served on the boards of the Philadelphia Chinatown Development Corporation as well as On Lok House, a five-story building with subsidized rent that houses the elderly in Chinatown.
If he wasn’t on a volunteer project in Chinatown, he was working on a home improvement project at his home or the home of one of his children or grandchildren, his family said.
Mr. Moy appreciated good food. He also was an avid sports fan, especially of the Eagles.
“One of my most vivid memories in 1960 was riding in the car with him on a cold winter day as we listened to the NFL championship game on the radio,” said his son, who was 8 at the time. “I can still see him shouting with excitement when the final gun sounded, and the Eagles had won the championship.
“Some 57 years later, there he was, walking with his walker, all the way from his house in Chinatown to 18th and the Parkway to see the Super Bowl Parade at the age of 92.”
Mr. Moy is survived by his children Michael, Phillip, Carol Molino, Thomas, Shirley, and Nancy; 11 grandchildren; eight great-grandchildren; a sister; and many nieces and nephews. His wife died in 2015. A child, Patricia, died in infancy and a daughter, Cynthia Patricia, died in 2009.
Funeral services were Saturday at Holy Redeemer Chinese Catholic Church, 915 Vine St., Philadelphia, Pa. 19107, with burial in Holy Sepulchre Cemetery, Philadelphia.