- Associated Press - Sunday, August 21, 2016

SUFFOLK, Va. (AP) - Peanuts have long been important in this region, and recently a Suffolk woman was honored for her contributions to the city’s most famous industry.

Ruth James Moore was inducted into the National Peanut Hall of Fame by the American Peanut Council, a trade association based in Washington. Members include peanut growers, shellers, brokers, manufacturers and organizations that provide goods and services to the industry.

Moore was a school teacher in Southampton County when she moved to Suffolk in 1943. She took her first job in the peanut industry as a bookkeeper for her father, Judson R. James, founder of JR James Brokerage Company, located in the old Virginia National Bank building in downtown Suffolk.

She married John T. (Jack) Moore, an engineer/estimator for Virginia Electric and Power Co. in 1946, and the couple had two sons, Jim and Thomas. Ruth Moore also had an earlier child, Walter Britt, from a previous marriage.

Moore’s father passed away in 1951 and she had to take over more responsibility of the brokerage firm he founded. Her sister, Ann, was stricken and left paralyzed by polio and Moore had to move her and two children into the Moore home along with three boys of their own.

Moore ran the family business for 34 years during a 40-year career span. She became the first woman to chair the American Peanut Council Board (1975-76), the 19th inductee into its hall of fame and the third woman.

The honor was established in 1985, the same year Moore retired.

“I just felt like it had been a long time coming,” said her son, James Moore, vice president and treasurer of the family business based in Albany, Georgia. “To have a woman in the agricultural business in 1951 and knowing what my mother had to go through - both professionally and personally - she had a lot to overcome.

“I nominated her and the APC executive committee unanimously voted her in.”

JR James Brokerage Company began to grow under Moore’s leadership through the 1960s. She leased additional office space on Saratoga Street and eventually built an office building on Wilroy Road.

She brokered deals between multiple peanut shellers, including Birdsong and Gold Kist Peanut Company and product manufacturers such as Jif and Skippy brands throughout the U.S., James Moore said. Deals were also brokered with European buyers.

Moore led her company’s growth and moved operations to Albany, Georgia, and southeast regions where the peanut business was beginning to shift in the 1970s. She and son, Walter, built a commercial cold storage facility in Albany. Her youngest son, Thomas, ran that facility for five years.

“Our facility held 22 million pounds of raw, edible peanuts,” said Thomas Moore, now owner of Olde Virginia Realty in Suffolk. “We loaded in and out of our warehouse two million pounds a day, five days a week.”

Ruth Moore recruited and hired experts from Gold Kist and Proctor and Gamble to run her Georgia operations, James Moore noted in documents to the APC Hall of Fame committee. She also contracted with climatologists from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology to provide weather information in peanut growing regions for her various clients.

Peanut Council Board chairman Otis Johnson presented family members a plaque commemorating Ruth Moore’s induction into the association’s hall of fame at this year’s APC and American Peanut Shellers Association annual meeting in Charleston, South Carolina.

Moore passed away in 1987, but the company she helped build is celebrating its 75th year and remains one of the major brokers in wholesale peanuts, seeds and other farm products.

“She was a woman and a mother in a business dominated by men at a time when it was tough for a woman in the agricultural business,” Thomas Moore said. “But she held her ground against them and became very successful.”

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Information from: The Virginian-Pilot, https://pilotonline.com


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