Bob Moore, Who Based Bob’s Purple Mill, Is Lifeless 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 Purple Mill right into a $100 million dollar-a-year enterprise, died on Saturday at his dwelling in Milwaukie, Ore. He was 94.

His demise was introduced by the corporate, which didn’t cite a trigger.

Based in Milwaukie in 1978, Bob’s Purple Mill grew from serving the Portland space to develop into a worldwide natural-foods behemoth, advertising and marketing greater than 200 merchandise in additional than 70 nations. The corporate’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.

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

“I believe 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 arising quick,” Mr. Moore mentioned in 2017 in an interview for an Oregon State College oral historical past. “I believe our diets, nationally, and worldwide most likely, present the truth that we simply have allowed ourselves to be offered a invoice of products.”

Regardless of the corporate’s explosive progress, Mr. Moore fended off quite a few affords by meals giants to purchase Bob’s Purple Mill. He opted as an alternative for an worker inventory possession plan, instituted in 2010, on his 81st birthday; by April 2020, the plan had put 100% of the corporate within the fingers of its greater than 700 workers.

“The Bible says to do unto others as you’d have them do unto you,” Mr. Moore, an observant Christian, mentioned in discussing the plan in a latest interview with Portland Month-to-month journal.

Whereas Bob’s Purple Mill is an ensemble effort in that sense, its advertising and marketing enchantment is rooted within the cult of persona surrounding its hirsute founder.

Mr. Moore, identified for his trademark pink vest and white beard, often 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 among his firm’s merchandise, together with the tagline “To Your Good Well being.”

“In every single place I am going, individuals acknowledge me,” Mr. Moore mentioned within the 2017 interview, “and I all the time have any person to speak to.”

With its folksy earth-tone packaging and its heavy emphasis on pure elements, Bob’s Purple Mill managed to conjure an anti-corporate, back-to-the-land ethos paying homage to the Complete Earth Catalog period of the Nineteen Seventies, with clear enchantment to ex-hippies and coastal wellness devotees.

On the similar time, the amiable, white-haired Bob and Charlee Moore, generally seen pictured smiling in one among their two 1931 Ford Mannequin A roadsters, projected a small-town wholesomeness that advised 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 constructing block to a nine-figure powerhouse.

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

Bob was too younger to enlist when World Battle II began, so he took a job in a warehouse for the Might Firm 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 on the retailer.

“I walked out of his workplace — I didn’t stroll out, I flew out,” he mentioned on the NPR podcast “How I Constructed This With Man Raz.” “I used to be simply in seventh heaven.”

After a three-year stint within the Military, 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 began a household that would come with three boys.

Mr. Moore was nonetheless attempting to decide on a profession path when, driving down Crenshaw Boulevard in Los Angeles someday, he noticed a “Coming Quickly” 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 offered their home to assist them scrape collectively the mandatory $6,000.

“The joy of getting my very own enterprise,” he mentioned on the podcast, “it’s nonetheless with me.”

Inside a few years, nevertheless, the couple uninterested in the Los Angeles smog and bustle. They offered 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 12 months.

Practically 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 ebook known as “John Goffe’s Mill,” by George Woodbury, which chronicled the writer’s restoration of a run-down household flour mill in New Hampshire.

“It’s a charming story,” Mr. Moore mentioned within the Oregon State interview. The writer, he mentioned, was “educated as an archaeologist, and I’ve an curiosity in these sorts of issues myself. Biblical archaeology is one thing that has fascinated me for many of my life.”

“However above all,” he added, “when George made the assertion, after he acquired his mill going, that individuals beat a path to his door over his whole-wheat flour and cornmeal, I learn that and I believed, ‘My goodness, if I might discover some millstones and a mill someplace, I guess I might do the identical factor.’”

He did simply that. He started monitoring down previous millstones from the nineteenth century and different needed tools, and he transformed a Quonset hut on the outskirts of city right into a mill for grinding varied 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.

Enterprise was good, however Mr. Moore ultimately started feeling the tug of a lifelong dream: to study to learn the Bible in its authentic 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. “In the future we have been strolling alongside, studying vocabulary playing cards forwards and backwards, we had Greek verbs on one facet and nouns on the opposite,” he recounted on the podcast. “A lot to my shock, there was a mill. It had been there a very long time. And in entrance of it was a ‘For Sale’ signal. I couldn’t imagine it.”

“I regarded within the window and I might see bucket elevators, grain cleaners, I might see all of the milling tools,” he continued. “I couldn’t imagine what I used to be taking a look at.”

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

“I mentioned, ‘What are you going to do? Tear that mill down?’” Mr. Moore recalled. “I believed, ‘That is essentially the most implausible factor. I can’t imagine what is occurring.’ So principally, I purchased the factor and it modified my whole life.”

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