Bernice (Bunk) Milburn Moore was born in San Antonio, Texas, on June 17, 1904, and grew up in the King William District of the city.
She earned her Bachelor of Journalism and a Master of Arts from The University of Texas and a doctorate in social psychology from the University of North Carolina. She met her future husband, Harry Estill Moore, while working on her master’s degree at UT Austin. Together, they moved to North Carolina and became the first couple on that campus to be awarded Ph.D.s simultaneously. They were fondly termed “a pair-a-docs” by their colleagues.
In 1937 the couple returned to Texas. Harry joined the faculty of UT’s sociology department, a position he held until his death in 1966. Bernice initially worked as a magazine editor, but eventually became a consultant to the Texas Education Agency’s Division of Home and Family Life Education, a role in which she served for 20 years. During this period she also consulted for the Hogg Foundation.
By all accounts Bernice was a forceful, outgoing personality. Her nickname “Bunk” came from her time as a jazz musician. In a 1939 biographical statement, she described herself as follows: “I have Malta Fever and am as mean as hell, am 34 goin’ on 35, and weigh 145 pounds and adore my husband and anything else you want to say.”
She would take on a leading role in the foundation’s speaker series on women and families in the 1940s, and would conduct numerous family life studies for the foundation in subsequent decades.
In 1964 Moore was appointed to the position of associate director for community programs with the foundation. For eight years she was director of a series of seminars for chaplains of the U.S. Air Force on “Counseling in Human Factors for Air Force Personnel.” She continued as adviser to the teaching faculty of these month-long training programs for the last years of their operation. She served as executive associate at the Hogg Foundation until her retirement in 1983.
During the course of her career Moore built a statewide and national reputation, lecturing to thousands of people in youth and adult groups and conducting planning and training institutes in communities throughout the state and nation. She served as a consultant to groups and organizations whose work was related to the family, personality, and mental health.
She wrote and edited numerous articles and foundation pamphlets, and in 1948 co-authored You and Your Family, a textbook on home and family. Moore was co-director of the Texas Youth Study, a research project involving 13,000 high school students. She and Dr. Wayne Holtzman wrote a book, Tomorrow’s Parents, reporting their findings.
Moore was named a distinguished alumna by the Ex-Students’ Association of The University of Texas in 1975. Each year this organization awards its Bernice Milburn Moore Scholarship in Continuing Education for Women.
Moore left the proceeds of her estate to The University of Texas System for the use and benefit of the Hogg Foundation to establish the Harry Estill Moore and Bernice Milburn Moore Fellowship Fund. Her will stated that the income from this trust “…shall be used for one or more resident fellowships at the Hogg Foundation to be granted to a sociologist whose primary interest is in research and study of human experience in crises, including those resulting from natural or other major disasters.”
In 2007, the purpose of the endowment was amended to broaden the pool of qualified candidates to include the areas of sociology, nursing, psychiatry, psychology and social work, and whose primary area of interest is in research and study of the human experience in crises, including those resulting from stress and adversity, as well as from natural or other major disasters.