March 3, 2024

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Bob Moore, founder and face of Bob's Red Mill, has died at age 94

Bob Moore, who became a friendly face of the natural foods industry as the bearded, polo-tie-wearing founder of Bob's Red Mill, the whole-grain foods brand known as a favorite of vegans, home bakers, and health food and gluten-free enthusiasts. Free Diners died on February 10 at his home in Milwaukee, Oregon, the former mill town where the company is headquartered. He was 94 years old.

A company spokeswoman confirmed His death But no reason was given.

Mr. Moore was a popular, almost Santa-like character who often wore a red sweater or coat, and was instantly recognizable to anyone who bought a bundle of barley, bulgur or buckwheat from Bob's Red Mill. An illustration of his face, smiling gently beneath a flat cap and wire-rimmed glasses, adorned each of the company's more than 200 products, along with a greeting that conveyed some of the simple charm of a seminarian: “For your good health.” .

Under Mr. Moore and his wife, co-founder Charlie Moore, the privately held company has grown from an artisanal company in Oregon to a global empire of stone-ground grains, cereals and flours, with annual sales “in excess of $100 million,” Mr. Moore said. Moore Tell Podcast host Guy Raz in 2018. The company went to Hiring spree In 2020, buoyed by increased interest in baking during the coronavirus pandemic, it says it now has more than 700 employees, with sales in more than 70 countries.

Mr. Moore, who retired as CEO in 2018 and continued to serve on the board until his death, was initially reluctant to embrace the health-conscious approach his brand had promoted since its founding in 1978. He once believed that dieters Gluten-free “We were crazy,” he said, and was skeptical of his wife's interest in books like “Let's Get Well” by nutritionist Adele Davis.

But his father's death from a heart attack at age 49, coupled with his wife's experiments with whole-grain bread in the 1960s, began to spark his interest in healthy eating. “Our world needs better food, and it needs whole grains.” He remembers In an episode of Raz's podcast “How I Built This.”

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While managing a J.C. Penney auto store in Redding, Calif., Mr. Moore found a book in the library titled “John Goffe's Mill,” in which the Harvard anthropologist George Woodbury chronicled his attempts to restore an abandoned mill that had belonged to his family in New Hampshire. . The book, with its exciting descriptions of traditional milling techniques and the glories of stone-ground flour and cornmeal, inspired Mr. Moore to believe that he might be able to run a mill of his own.

Mr. Moore began writing letters to mills around the country, searching for antique equipment, and eventually obtained a few sets of 19th-century quartz millstones from an old mill in North Carolina. He went on to have modest success with his first milling company, Morris Mills, which he founded in 1974 with his wife and two sons, working out of a vacant Quonset hut in Redding.

But after a few years, about to turn 50, he decided to hand the milling business over to his children. He sold most of his possessions, moved to Portland, Oregon with his wife and enrolled at Western Evangelical Seminary, now part of George Fox University, where he pursued his long-standing ambition of learning Hebrew and Greek until he could. Read the Bible in two of its original languages.

He said in press statements: “This was my goal in life, 100 percent.” Oral history of Oregon State University. “I've given myself up to it.”

Within six months, Mr. Moore was again seized by visions of flour and stone-ground grains. He and his wife were quizzing each other about Greek nouns and verbs, leafing through flashcards while walking in nearby Milwaukee, a few miles south of downtown Portland, when they spotted an old mill and a “For Sale” sign outside. Inside were bucket elevators and grain cleaners, along with almost all the milling equipment Mr. Moore knew he needed to get started.

“I call it an emotional epiphany,” he said Tell The Oregonian newspaper, recalling his first encounter with the building. “Whatever excuse I cared to make, I was sucked into it like a vortex.”

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Using a set of 1870s millstones that he acquired from another old mill, he soon launched Bob's Red Mill. His wife completed the books and packaged many of the original products while Mr. Moore got to work promoting the company, getting the evening news within a few weeks of the plant opening and filling the parking lot shortly thereafter.

The company grew with the help of the department store chain Fred Meyer, which began carrying its products in the Pacific Northwest. After a fire destroyed the plant in 1988 — one reportedly set the building on fire — Mr. Moore moved the company to a larger plant in Milwaukee, Expansion from About 18,000 to 60,000 square feet. Within a few years, the company was supplying wholesalers across the country. Overseas sales began in the early 2000s.

For many years, Mr. Moore rejected potential buyers, insisting on maintaining ownership of the company. In 2010, on his 81st birthday, he began transferring control to his employees through a new employee stock ownership plan. “The Bible says to do to others as you would have them do to you.” He said later Portland Monthly, explaining his belief that sharing profits and property would “make things more just and charitable.”

Mr. Moore continued to come into the office daily, driving to work in one of his 1931 Ford Model As, occasionally playing piano duets for visitors, and performing Gershwin or Cole Porter songs with his executive assistant. Often, he could be found inspecting mill equipment, conducting product tests three times a day, and praising the ancient techniques he sought to combine with modern machinery.

“We built these machines,” he told The Washington Post in 2011, showing off the mill. “And the others who were there screamed, felt the heat, and went 94 miles an hour. I don't live my life that way, and I don't want my food that way.

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Robert Gene Moore, the oldest of two children, was born in Portland on February 15, 1929. He grew up in San Bernardino, California, where his father drove a truck to sell Wonder Bread, according to the How I Built This podcast. .

After graduating from high school, Mr. Moore served three years in the Army, where he helped build roads and bridges on Eniwetok Atoll in the Marshall Islands, where the Army conducted nuclear tests. He returned home to work as an electronics technician and married Charlie Le Cote in 1953, a year after they met on a blind date.

Mr. Moore ran service stations in Gardena and Mammoth Lakes, Calif., before moving to Sacramento, where he sold lawn mowers and appliance supplies at a Sears store. For a time, he and his family lived on a five-acre goat farm, where Charlie baked whole-grain bread, raised chickens, and tended the garden. Mr. Moore described it as “heaven on earth.”

He and his wife later allocated $30 million to launch two academic centers. Moore Family Center for Whole Grain Foods, Nutrition and Preventive Health at Oregon State University in Corvallis and the Bob and Charlie Moore Institute for Nutrition and Wellness at Oregon Health & Science University in Portland.

Charlie He died in 2018. Survivors include their three sons, Ken, Bob Jr. and David; Nine grandchildren. and six grandchildren.

At the age of 87, Mr Moore traveled to the village of Carrbridge, in the Scottish Highlands, where he won the Golden Spurtle World Championship for making porridge using a batch of his company's steel-cut oats. This was a tribute to traditional porridge made only with oats, water and salt, although the Portland Monthly reported that Mr. Moore preferred to make some concessions to modernity, preparing his daily oats with “flaxseed meal, walnuts, banana slices, and turbinado sugar.” And skim milk.”