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Preston Moore, the successful Houston businessman who inspired the invention of the golf cart and was recently inducted into the Texas Golf Hall of Fame, died Dec. 27 in a tragic car accident. He was 84.
Moore died just two months after his Oct. 12 Hall of Fame induction ceremony in San Antonio when the adjacent
photo was taken.
Two days after Christmas, Moore was driving his black Tesla on Potomac Drive in Houston near the prestigious Houston Country Club, where he was a longtime member. According to police reports, his vehicle rapidly accelerated through a garage into the pool of an adjoining property. A passenger survived, but Moore drowned. The Harris County Institute of Forensic Science determined the manner of death as an accident, and the cause of death as a drowning. He was pronounced dead after being transported to an area hospital.
A Houston Police Department spokesperson declined to identify a female passenger of the vehicle, who was able to get out of it, because they have designated her as a witness.
A Houston native born into a prominent family, Moore was a cousin of former U.S. Secretary of State James Baker and friends with President George H.W. Bush administration and served as the chief financial officer for the U.S. Department of Commerce.
He held many positions in Houston’s business community during his lifetime. He was also the father of a local bank executive. Prior to his government appointment, his business roles included president and CEO of his family business, Wilson Stationery and Printing Co.; president and CEO of Graham Realty Co.; and
president and director of Wilson Industries Inc., which specialized in oil field equipment and supplies. After his appointment, he worked in the solid waste disposal business and served as president and director of medical startup, Volcano Therapeutics.
As a youth who grew up just down the street from the original Houston CC site in Houston’s historic East End, golf was in Moore’s blood from an early age and he indirectly inspired the invention of the golf cart.
His father was captain of the Princeton University golf team and won the Houston City Amateur. He later served for two years as president of Houston CC, during which time his family lived at the club.
The younger Moore was also a standout junior, winning the Houston Junior Amateur five times. At 14, he competed
in the PGA Tour’s Dallas Open. While still a teen during World War II, he was driving his Cushman scooter along a cart path when fellow member Dick Jackson saw him go by. Jackson, who had a bad case of arthritis and was having a hard time walking the course, checked out Moore’s scooter, then bought one for himself and modified
it for use on a golf course. He called it the Arthritis Special.
“I am passionate about golf in Texas and proud to be a part of this great group,” Moore said after being inducted into the Hall of Fame Class of 2015 along with PGA Tour star Jeff Maggert, club pro Paul Marchand and legendary amateur Trip Kuehne.
Moore also competed in 16 marathons. He was proud of his 2:57 finish in the Houston Marathon and 3:01 in the Boston Marathon. He was named to the President’s Council on Physical Fitness and Sports under President Ronald Reagan.
He was recruited by legendary instructor Harvey Penick to play at the University of Texas. Though he did not play on the team, he enrolled and obtained his bachelor’s degree from UT—the beginning of a lifelong love affair with the school.
In his last years, Moore spearheaded efforts to restore Gus Wortham Golf Course, the original Houston CC course built in 1908 where he grew up. His work paid off when the city council turned away a proposal to turn the course into a botanical garden and signed off on plans for a $15 million remodeling and expansion program at the historic course.
“The things he had a passion for, he committed himself to completely,” said Pam Holm, a former council member who is one of the co-chairs for the Wortham fundraising campaign. “He had a way that incentivized and energized other people to get involved.”
Said his son: “This was home for him. “He was a fourth generation Houstonian. He loved the people of Houston and the can-do spirit of Texas.”