A company spokeswoman confirmed his death but he did not give a cause.
A folksy, almost Santa-like figure who often wore a red vest or coat, Moore was immediately recognizable to anyone who ever bought a package of barley, bulgur or buckwheat from Bob’s Red Mill. An illustration of his face , smiling softly under a flat cap and wire-rimmed glasses, adorns each of the company’s more than 200 products, along with a greeting that conveys some of the former seminarian’s affable charm: “To your good health.”
Under the direction of Moore and his wife, co-founder Charlee Moore, the privately held company grew from a cottage business in Oregon to a global empire of stone-ground grains, cereals and flours, with annual sales of “more than $100 million.” of dollars,” Mr. Moore said said podcast host Guy Raz in 2018. The company undertook a hiring spree in 2020, fueled by a surge in interest in the bakery during the coronavirus pandemic, and says it now has more than 700 employees and sales in more than 70 countries.
Moore, who retired as CEO in 2018 and remained on the board until his death, was initially reluctant to adopt the health-conscious approach his brand promoted since its founding in 1978. He once thought that the people who made gluten-free diet “We’re crazy,” he said, and he was skeptical of his wife’s interest in books like “Let’s Get Well,” by nutritionist Adelle Davis.
But his father’s death from a heart attack at age 49, along with his wife’s experiments in whole-grain baking in the 1960s, began to spark his interest in healthy eating. “Our world needed better foods, it needed whole grains.” he remembered in an episode of Raz’s podcast “How I Built This.”
While running a JC Penney auto shop in Redding, California, Moore came across a library book, “John Goffe’s Mill,” in which Harvard anthropologist George Woodbury recounted his attempts to restore an abandoned factory that belonged to his family in New Hampshire. . The book, with its evocative descriptions of traditional milling techniques and the glories of stone-ground flour and cornmeal, inspired Mr. Moore to think that perhaps he could run his own mill.
Moore began writing letters to millers around the country, searching for antique equipment, and eventually acquired a few sets of 19th-century quartz millstones from a defunct mill in North Carolina. He later achieved modest success with his first milling company, Moores’ Flour Mill, which he founded in 1974 with his wife and two of his children, working out of an empty Quonset hut in Redding.
But a few years later, about to turn 50, he decided to leave the milling business 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 sought to fulfill a long-held ambition to learn Hebrew and Greek so he could read. the Bible in two of its original languages.
“That was my goal in life, one hundred percent,” he said in a oral history for Oregon State University. “I gave myself to it.”
After six months, Mr. Moore again had visions of stone-ground flour and grains. He and his wife were quizzing each other on Greek nouns and verbs, reviewing flashcards during a walk in nearby Milwaukie, a few miles south of downtown Portland, when they saw an old mill and a “for sale” sign on it. forehead. Inside were bucket elevators and grain cleaners, along with virtually all the milling equipment Mr. Moore knew he needed to get started.
“I call it my emotional epiphany,” he said. said the Oregonian newspaper, recalling his first encounter with the building. “Whatever excuse he wants to give, I was just sucked into it like a vortex.”
Using a set of 1870s millstones he acquired from another old mill, he soon launched Bob’s Red Mill. His wife did the bookkeeping and packaged many of the original products, while Mr. Moore got to work promoting the business, appearing on the evening news within weeks of opening the factory and filling the parking lot soon after.
The company grew with the help of the Fred Meyer hypermarket chain, which began marketing its products in the Pacific Northwest. After a fire destroyed the factory in 1988 (an arsonist reportedly set the building on fire), Mr. Moore moved the company to a larger plant in Milwaukie, expanding from about 18,000 to 60,000 square feet. Within a few years, the company was supplying wholesalers across the country. It began sales abroad in the early 2000s.
For years, Moore turned down potential buyers, insisting on maintaining ownership of the company. In 2010, when he turned 81, he began transferring control to his staff through a new employee stock ownership plan. “The Bible says to do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” later told him Portland Monthly, explaining his belief that sharing profits and ownership “would make things fairer and more benevolent.”
Mr. Moore continued to go to the office every day, driving to work in one of his two 1931 Model A Fords, and occasionally playing piano duets for visitors, performing songs by Gershwin or Cole Porter with his executive assistant. . He could most often be found checking mill equipment, testing products three times a day, and singing the praises of the antiquated techniques he sought to combine with modern machinery.
“We built these machines,” he told the Washington Post in 2011, showing off the factory. “The others there were screaming, getting hot and going 150 kilometers per hour. “I don’t live my life that way and I don’t want my food that way.”
Robert Gene Moore, the eldest of two brothers, was born in Portland on February 15, 1929. He grew up in San Bernardino, California, where his father drove a truck selling Wonder Bread, according to the “How I Build This” podcast. .
After graduating from high school, Mr. Moore served three years in the Army, helping to build roads and bridges on Enewetak Atoll in the Marshall Islands, where the Army conducted nuclear tests. He returned home to work as an electronics technician and married Charlee Lu Coote in 1953, a year after they met on a blind date.
Moore ran service stations in Gardena and Mammoth Lakes, California, before moving to Sacramento, where he sold lawn mowers and hardware supplies at Sears. For a time, she and his family lived on a five-acre goat farm, where Charlee baked with whole grains, raised chickens, and tended a garden. Moore described it as “heaven on earth.”
Later, he and his wife set aside $30 million to start two academic centers, the Moore Family Center of Whole Foods, Nutrition and Preventive Health at Oregon State University in Corvallis and the Bob and Charlee Moore Institute for Nutrition and Wellness at Oregon Health and Science University in Portland.
Charlee died in 2018. He is survived by his three sons, Ken, Bob Jr. and David; nine grandchildren; and six great-grandchildren.
At age 87, Mr. Moore traveled to the Scottish Highlands village of Carrbridge, where he won the Golden Spurtle World Porridge Making Championship using a batch of his company’s steel-cut oats. The honor went to a traditional porridge, made only with oats, water and salt, although Portland Monthly reported that Moore preferred to make some concessions to modernity and prepared his daily oatmeal with “linseed meal, walnuts, sliced banana, turbinado sugar and skimmed milk”.