Richard “Moe” Moore, Deputy Director of Operations
Department of Public Works | Town of Nantucket
Imagine moving to Nantucket Island in the late 1980s from the South where segregation was practiced, though outlawed. Listening to Richard Moore’s story about his early life and this journey to the island illustrated two Americas back then. “I’m from Mississippi and grew up at a time when Blacks and Whites didn’t really interact. I’ve never been one to be racist, but I grew up in a racist environment… When I came here [Nantucket] it was the first time I saw a Black kid going to sleepover at a White kid’s house.”
Raised by his grandmother in Mississippi, Richard Moore has called Nantucket home for over thirty years. Moore, colloquially known throughout the community as “Moe,” is a proud husband and father (of three Nantucket High School graduates). Throughout the interview Moe talked about changes he has witnessed to the island, the evolution of the DPW’s workplace culture, and he nostalgically reminisced about island friends and loved ones passed, like his godfather, who was a minister and storeowner that “gave away more than he sold,” Moore said.
Similar to most Meet NEET stories shared, Moe first came to Nantucket for work at the invitation of a friend he knew from Mississippi that was living and working on the island. Here is how he explained his journey to Nantucket.
“When I finished school, I moved to Chicago where my parents and siblings were to live but I wasn’t having any luck landing a good job. When I returned home to check on my grandmother, I went to visit a friend, but he was here, on Nantucket… He heard I stopped by and gave me call. He said, I have a job lined up, a place to stay, and an airplane ticket. He had purchased it, the ticket, for another friend who backed out [of working on Nantucket] last minute. So, he said, why don’t you come to Nantucket… It took a while for him to convince me, but I took the chance and before I knew it three years had passed before I left the island for a vacation.”
Moore had a lot to share about the island changes he has witnessed over time. “If you’ve been here since ’87, like I have, you can definitely look around and see how much things have changed, for example, there are so many buildings now,” he said. He went on to talk about walking home from EJ Harvey’s back-in-the-day without seeing one car at night, “nowadays you can see cars on the road at 3 o’clock in the morning,” he said. Throughout the interview Moe shared several examples on how the community has changed and talked about the island’s expansion. He joked that sometimes it’s difficult to find a seat on the ferries, something that still leaves him flabbergasted.
Prior to joining the town, Moe worked for a handful of local businesses. Moore began working for the Town in 2009, first at the wastewater treatment facility and then at the DPW. He was promoted to DPW Deputy Director of Operations in 2022. Moore’s insights on the vast scope of DPW’s responsibilities were eye-opening and he proudly shared ideas and on how the department can be better supported by the public and town government.
When asked to describe the position’s responsibilities and staff under his oversight, Moore simply replied, “We do everything but the buildings.” Asked to elaborate, Moe shared a laundry list of responsibilities under his oversight: brush cutting, road work, litter and trash pick-up, signage repair and installation, tree care such as pruning and planting, sidewalk repair and maintenance, split rail fence installation and repairs, accident debris removal, placement and removal of barricades for special events, dead animal removal, snow fencing, crosswalks, other street markings and line painting upkeep, Christmas trees installation and removal; in the moment, it seemed like Moe’s list would never end.
At one point, Moore was asked what he disliked about the job, to which he replied, “The beatdown we sometimes take from people who don’t understand what all these guys are responsible for doing… Somebody is always looking for something that didn’t get done.”
On the other hand, when asked about the DPW’s workplace culture, for Moe, there is no doubt that it has changed for the better. Initially, the culture could be summed up in seven words, “Do your eight and hit the gate,” he explained. The workplace culture now is more focused on team and togetherness. “Everyone gets along, we’re all close. Everyone is willing to help. And, we go at it hard every day,” he shared.
When asked about DEI and his wishes for the town, Moe focused his answer on employment. “I think we want a workforce that looks like America,” he said. Interestingly, separate from interviewees a part of the internal DEI committee, Moe was the only interviewee to highlight that the most important thing to know about DEI is that the terms are independent and have specific purposes. Moe went on to share that listening to his favorite disc jockeys and podcasts has allowed him to develop his own understanding on the importance of DEI for the community and country.
Richard Moore shared a lot of information in his interview. It was clear that Nantucket and its residents have a special place in his heart, “That’s why I want to give back to the community, they’ve done so much for me,” he shared. When asked for three adjectives that best describes the island, Moe said Nantucket is a community, family, and inclusive.