Robert Montgomery Moore Jr., 85, who with his wife faced down angry neighbors to integrate a whites-only section of Lansdowne in 1959, died of respiratory failure Dec. 11 at Delaware County Memorial Hospital.
Mr. Moore was born in Philadelphia and lived briefly in Magnolia before returning to the city. He graduated from Overbrook High School in 1943.
When he entered Pennsylvania State College in 1943, Mr. Moore was denied a dormitory room because he was black. A sympathetic professor gave him a place to live.
The experience of being turned away caused Mr. Moore to help establish Fairmount House, a dormitory that took in men of all colors and religions. The push for equal housing would be a recurring theme in Mr. Moore's life.
He earned a certificate for completing lower-division courses at Penn State in 1945 and graduated from Temple University's College of Engineering in 1953.
In 1951, after meeting her at a bridge game and courting her with poetic letters, Mr. Moore married Jean E. Campbell, who had come from New York to pursue graduate studies at Bryn Mawr College.
The couple's first home was the Flamingo at Broad Street and Girard Avenue, the only apartment house in Philadelphia that accepted blacks at the time, his wife said.
The couple moved to a twin home in West Philadelphia, which Mr. Moore renovated. After the birth of the Moores' first child, they went house hunting in the suburbs, but were rebuffed until Quaker activist Margaret H. Collins, one of the first fair-housing Realtors, sold them a house in a whites-only neighborhood.
The neighbors didn't exactly roll out the welcome mat, his wife said. Mr. Moore and she were told to leave, but they refused.
"It's you who will have to change," the couple responded, according to his wife. Eventually, the neighbors accepted the Moores, who have stayed 50 years.
In general, unfair housing practices were common in the Philadelphia suburbs in the late 1950s and the 1960s. Realtors wouldn't sell to black buyers; when they did, they steered them toward the least desirable neighborhoods. Once black buyers found housing, rocks would be thrown through their windows or fires set on their lawns, Mr. Moore's wife said.
The Fair Housing Council of Suburban Philadelphia, in which Mr. Moore and his wife were active for more than 40 years, dispatched friends to stay overnight with black families under siege.
By offering support in myriad ways, the council opened the real estate market to minorities, single mothers, handicapped residents, and people with various religious beliefs.
The council, based in Swarthmore, still exists.
The Moores were among the first African American members of First Presbyterian Church of Lansdowne, transferring from the First African Presbyterian Church of Philadelphia.
Mr. Moore was a member of the church men's group. He enjoyed family trips to Atlantic City and Canada, and played bridge and chess.
A skilled photographer, he served as a medical photographer for Hahnemann Hospital in the 1950s. For 25 years ending in 1983, when he retired because of a stroke, Mr. Moore was a graphic-arts supervisor for General Electric at several Philadelphia-area campuses.
In retirement, Mr. Moore enjoyed working on his computer. He used his graphics skills to create a computerized family tree.
In addition to his wife, Mr. Moore is survived by a son, Robert M. III; a daughter, Doreen Moore Closson; three grandsons; and a sister.
Funeral services were held yesterday. Burial was in Mount Zion Cemetery, Collingdale.
Memorial donations may be made to the American Heart Association, Suite 700, 1617 JFK Blvd., Philadelphia 19103.