BY ASHLEY D. THOMAS
The Daytona Times has received word that Dr. Russell Mootry Jr., a former Bethune-Cookman University and longtime local political commentator, died late Tuesday evening, July 29, at Halifax Health Medical Center. He was 67.
Mootry was an educator, community activist and author with more than 32 years of service and experience in higher education. He served as the dean/professor of Social Sciences at Bethune-Cookman University from 1977-2009.
Immediately prior to joining the faculty at Bethune-Cookman, he was a counselor in the Behavioral Sciences Center at Nova University in Davie, Fla. He earned his bachelor’s degree from Bethune-Cookman College in 1973, a master’s degree from Barry University in Miami and his doctorate degree from Howard University. He did post-doctoral work at a Florida A&M Univeristy/University of Florida program in gerontology in 1992.
Fought for disabled, disenfranchised
Mootry received numerous research grants over the years – the Able Trust in Tallahassee to work with persons with disabilities, National Association for Equal Opportunity in Higher Education (NAFEO) for HIV/AIDS funding for Educational and Informational initiatives at HBCUs, and for work in rural areas from the University of South Florida.
He had been a consultant for Volusia County School’s Home/ School Liaison Program, Daytona Beach Public Housing Authority, Florida A&M’s Allied Health Sciences Program and an expert witness in capital cases in Volusia as well as in the area of family dynamics for Ricci and Leopold Law Firm in West Palm Beach.
He also was an external reviewer for a number of years for the U.S. Department of Education’s Jacob K. Javits Ph.D. Fellowship Program in Washington, D.C.
In addition, Mootry worked for a number of years with the Daytona Beach Volusia County Chamber of Commerce and became the president of that organization in 1989. He served on Daytona Beach’s Enterprise Zone Committee and helped in the creation of an incubator for business initiatives.
Wrote extensively on Black achievements
Mootry authored “Black Diamonds: Profiles of Successful Blacks in a Small Southern Community,’’ which is a treatise on Black achievement in a rural area in the Deep South. The book was made possible in part by a grant from the McKnight Foundation (now Florida Education Fund) in Tampa.
He was invited to submit three essays for publication in the “Encyclopedia of Race and Racism,’’ an imprint of MacMillan Reference USA, The Gale Group, 2008. The essays are on Bethune-Cookman Founder Dr. Mary McLeod Bethune; T. Thomas Fortune, writer and publisher; and Walter Francis White, an NAACP icon.
Mootry’s awards and honors include: NAFEO’s Presidential Citation for Distinguished Graduates of HBCUs, Magnificent Alumnus Honors, Sponsored Programs Longevity Award and Excellence in Research awards from Bethune-Cookman University and the NAACP.
Political analyst for Times, WPUL-AM
“Dr. Mootry was always our go-to guy with regard to local politics,” said Daytona Times Publisher Charles W. Cherry II. “Also, whenever WPUL-AM aired post-election shows on the radio station, especially after presidential and gubernatorial elections, we depended on Dr. Mootry to analyze the results and look at the statistics and trends. He was sharp and could make it all plain for the listeners. He’ll be missed.”
After a long career at B-CU, Mootry was fired in 2009 for allegedly having illicit contact with students. He filed a lawsuit against the school charging defamation of character and breach of his employment contract, among other things. A jury ruled for B-CU in September 2013. Mootry appealed the jury verdict to the Fifth District Court of Appeals; the appeal was still pending at the time of his death.
According to Woodland Cemetery, Mootry was buried there on Aug 1.