Rayora Moore died peacefully in Norman, Okla., on August 28, 2023, after having led a long, active life.
She was born Lola Rayora Henderson on July 8, 1939, to A. Ray Henderson and Pearl Nichols Henderson in Stillwater, Oklahoma. She was the first of Ray and Pearl’s four children and was thus affectionately nicknamed “Big Un’” by the father she idolized – a name he used (and she happily tolerated) as long as he lived.
Rayora grew up working on the family farm and just weeks shy of her seventeenth birthday married Bill Moore. Rayora finished high school and then began her family, which would grow to include five children before Rayora’s twenty-fifth birthday. Bill and Rayora moved from Stillwater to Ottawa, Kansas, Little Rock, Arkansas, and Enid, Oklahoma, with Bill’s jobs before settling in Purcell, Oklahoma in 1971.
Not long after arriving in Purcell, Bill and Rayora purchased Wells’ Cleaners, which Rayora operated for several years. While in Purcell, Rayora juggled their home, the dry cleaners, raising five children (and eventually grandchildren), active involvement in Trinity United Methodist Church and service on the Purcell Board of Education.
In 1979 Rayora took on an additional challenge and began pursuing her college degree, rising at 4:00 a.m. most mornings to go to the dry cleaners to work several hours there before driving to class. In 1985 she received her degree in Fashion Merchandising from the University of Oklahoma, graduating with honors and as a member of Phi Beta Kappa.
In 1996 Bill and Rayora moved back to Stillwater after Rayora inherited the home where she was born and raised. She delighted in baking cinnamon rolls and cookies to take to friends and in spending time in her flower beds, vegetable garden and sewing shop and could often be found working out at the gym, baking pies for the county fair with her friends from Cottonwood Home Demonstration Club or socializing with former Stillwater High School classmates at Hideaway Pizza.
Rayora was preceded in death by her parents; by her husband, D.W. “Bill” Moore, and by her brother, Bill Henderson.
She is survived by her children, David (Cathy) Moore, D’Ray Moore, D’Nell Moore, D’Linda (Scott) Henson, and Dusty (Lonnie) Mathews-Moore; grandchildren, Stephanie Moore, Mallory (Cole) Cheatwood, Chelsey Henson and Austin Mathews. She also is survived by three great-grandchildren who brought her immeasurable joy in the last couple of years when not much else did. She is also survived by her sisters, Jo Alice (Jimmie) Freeman and Louise (Norman) Richmond; sister-in-law, Eddye Miller and a host of nieces and nephews.
A celebration of Rayora’s life will be held on Sunday, October 1, 2023 at 2:00 p.m. This gathering will take place at 2001 N. Jardot in Stillwater, where Rayora hosted so many celebrations, picnics, parties, Easter egg hunts and family reunions.
In lieu of flowers, those wishing to pay tribute to Rayora should plant a flower, bake and share a batch of cookies or cinnamon rolls and/or donate to the Alzheimer’s Foundation or a favorite charity.