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Bob Moore, Who Founded Bob’s Red Mill, Is Dead at 94

Bob Moore, the grandfatherly entrepreneur who, together with his spouse, Charlee, leveraged a picture of natural heartiness and healthful Americana to show the artisanal grain firm Bob’s Red Mill right into a $100 million dollar-a-year enterprise, died on Saturday at his residence in Milwaukie, Ore. He was 94.

His loss of life was introduced by the corporate, which didn’t cite a trigger.

Founded in Milwaukie in 1978, Bob’s Red Mill grew from serving the Portland space to turn into a worldwide natural-foods behemoth, advertising and marketing greater than 200 merchandise in additional than 70 nations. The firm’s product line runs a whole-grain gamut, together with stone-ground sorghum flour, paleo-style muesli and entire wheat-pearl couscous, together with vitality bars and cake and soup mixes.

Over the years, the corporate profited handsomely from the nutrition-minded shift away from processed meals and grains.

“I feel that individuals who eat white flour, white rice, de-germinated corn — in different phrases, grains which have had a part of their vitamins taken away — are coming up short,” Mr. Moore stated in 2017 in an interview for an Oregon State University oral historical past. “I think our diets, nationally, and international probably, show the fact that we just have allowed ourselves to be sold a bill of goods.”

Despite the corporate’s explosive progress, Mr. Moore fended off quite a few presents by food giants to purchase Bob’s Red Mill. He opted as a substitute for an worker inventory possession plan, instituted in 2010, on his 81st birthday; by April 2020, the plan had put 100 p.c of the corporate within the arms of its greater than 700 workers.

“The Bible says to do unto others as you’ll have them do unto you,” Mr. Moore, an observant Christian, stated in discussing the plan in a latest interview with Portland Monthly journal.

While Bob’s Red Mill is an ensemble effort in that sense, its advertising and marketing attraction is rooted within the cult of character surrounding its hirsute founder.

Mr. Moore, identified for his trademark crimson vest and white beard, frequently drew comparisons to Santa Claus. (He was additionally identified for his bolo ties and newsie caps.) His gently smiling face adorns the package deal of each one in every of his firm’s merchandise, together with the tagline “To Your Good Health.”

“Everywhere I go, people recognize me,” Mr. Moore stated within the 2017 interview, “and I always have somebody to talk to.”

With its folksy earth-tone packaging and its heavy emphasis on pure elements, Bob’s Red Mill managed to conjure an anti-corporate, back-to-the-land ethos harking back to the Whole Earth Catalog period of the 1970s, with clear attraction to ex-hippies and coastal wellness devotees.

At the identical time, the amiable, white-haired Bob and Charlee Moore, typically seen pictured smiling in one in every of their two 1931 Ford Model A roadsters, projected a small-town wholesomeness that steered a misplaced world of barbershop quartets and sarsaparilla floats that appeared completely tailor-made for the heartland.

The wholesomeness, it appears, was something however an act. And it proved a building block to a nine-figure powerhouse.

Robert Gene Moore was born on Feb. 15, 1929, in Portland, the elder of two kids of Ken and Doris Moore. He grew up in San Bernardino, Calif., outdoors Los Angeles, the place his father, too, had a grain-adjacent job of types: He drove a Wonder Bread truck.

Bob was too younger to enlist when World War II started, so he took a job in a warehouse for the May Company division retailer in Los Angeles. He was given an early style of administration at 16 when his boss promoted him to run his personal division at the shop.

“I walked out of his office — I didn’t walk out, I flew out,” he stated on the NPR podcast “How I Built This With Guy Raz.” “I was just in seventh heaven.”

After a three-year stint within the Army, throughout which he helped construct bridges and roads within the Marshall Islands, he returned to Southern California and met Charlee Lu Coote. The Moores married in 1953 and started a household that would come with three boys.

Mr. Moore was nonetheless making an attempt to choose a profession path when, driving down Crenshaw Boulevard in Los Angeles someday, he noticed a “Coming Soon” signal for a brand new Mobil fuel station. Sensing a profitable enterprise, he reached out to see if he might purchase it. The younger couple shortly bought their home to assist them scrape collectively the mandatory $6,000.

“The excitement of having my own business,” he stated on the podcast, “it’s still with me.”

Within a few years, nevertheless, the couple uninterested in the Los Angeles smog and bustle. They bought the station and moved to the ski resort city of Mammoth Lakes, within the southern Sierra Nevada, the place they purchased one other fuel station. It failed inside a yr.

Nearly destitute, the Moores moved to Sacramento, the place Mr. Moore took a job within the {hardware} division of a Sears division retailer.

By his mid-40s, he was managing a J.C. Penney auto store in Redding, Calif., when he wandered right into a library and ran throughout a e-book referred to as “John Goffe’s Mill,” by George Woodbury, which chronicled the creator’s restoration of a run-down household flour mill in New Hampshire.

“It’s a charming story,” Mr. Moore stated within the Oregon State interview. The creator, he stated, was “educated as an archaeologist, and I have an interest in those kinds of things myself. Biblical archaeology is something that has fascinated me for most of my life.”

“But above all,” he added, “when George made the statement, after he got his mill going, that people beat a path to his door over his whole-wheat flour and cornmeal, I read that and I thought, ‘My goodness, if I could find some millstones and a mill someplace, I bet I could do the same thing.’”

He did simply that. He started monitoring down outdated millstones from the 19th century and different crucial gear, and he transformed a Quonset hut on the outskirts of city right into a mill for grinding numerous strains of wheat and different grains. In 1974, he and his spouse turned his new obsession right into a household mill, which additionally employed their teenage sons.

Mr. Moore is survived by a sister, Jeannie, and his sons, Ken, Bob, Jr. and David, in addition to 9 grandchildren and 6 great-grandchildren. His spouse died in 2018.

Business was good, however Mr. Moore finally started feeling the tug of a lifelong dream: to study to learn the Bible in its unique languages, together with Hebrew and Koine Greek. He retired when he was about 50, and he and his spouse moved to Portland to pursue this course of research at a seminary.

Mr. Moore, nevertheless, quickly grew weary of the painstaking work concerned in studying historical languages. “One day we were walking along, reading vocabulary cards back and forth, we had Greek verbs on one side and nouns on the other,” he recounted on the podcast. “Much to my surprise, there was a mill. It had been there a long time. And in front of it was a ‘For Sale’ sign. I couldn’t believe it.”

“I looked in the window and I could see bucket elevators, grain cleaners, I could see all the milling equipment,” he continued. “I couldn’t believe what I was looking at.”

When he dialed the quantity listed, the proprietor stated he was planning to tear down the mill to show the worth of the underlying land.

“I said, ‘What are you going to do? Tear that mill down?’” Mr. Moore recalled. “I thought, ‘This is the most fantastic thing. I can’t believe what is happening.’ So basically, I bought the thing and it changed my entire life.”


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