Bob’s Grand Legacy: To Your Good Health | God's World News

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Bob’s Grand Legacy: To Your Good Health

05/01/2024
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    Bob Moore is the founder of Bob’s Red Mill in Oregon. (Handout)
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    Bob’s Red Mill makes grains, cereals, flour, and more. (Doug Beghtel/The Oregonian/AP)
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    Bob Moore stops to ask how worker Lan Hughes is doing. She fills mail order requests at the Bob’s Red Mill warehouse. (AP)
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    A mill worker grinds wheat in Bosnia. Bob Moore’s staff uses older machines to mill products. (AP/Amel Emric)
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    Each Bob’s Red Mill package shows a picture of Bob Moore. (Bob’s Red Mill)
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Every Bob’s Red Mill food product shows the founder’s grandfatherly face, his gentle smile peeking through a snowy white beard. His signature follows the cheery toast, “To Your Good Health.” Bob Moore was 94 when he died on February 10 at his home in Milwaukie, Oregon. He left behind a $100 million-per-year business and a legacy of generosity.

Moore grew up in southern California. He tried his hand at everything from warehouse work to building bridges and roads in the Army to running a gas station.

He and his family lived on a five-acre goat farm for a season. His wife, Charlee, baked with whole grains. They raised chickens and tended a garden. Moore experienced a more abundant life in that space. He described it as “heaven on Earth.”

In his mid-40s, Moore managed a J.C. Penney auto shop in Redding, California. While perusing books at a library, he came across John Goffe’s Mill by George Woodbury. The text described the author’s restoration of a family flour mill in New Hampshire. Once Mr. Woodbury got the mill running, people flocked to him for whole-wheat flour and cornmeal.

Moore thought, “If I could find some millstones and a mill someplace, I bet I could do the same thing.”

He hunted down 19th-century millstones and other equipment. Then he transformed a Quonset hut into a mill for grinding a variety of wheat and other grains in 1974. He and his wife ran the operation and employed their teen sons. They soon had a thriving local business.

Moore retired at 50 to pursue a lifelong dream. He and his wife moved to Portland, Oregon, so he could attend seminary. He longed to master Hebrew and Greek to read the Bible in its original languages.

The studying was intense. One day, he and his wife were walking and reviewing Greek nouns and verbs when they stumbled upon an old mill. There was a “For Sale” sign out front. Moore spied bucket elevators, grain cleaners, and milling equipment through the windows. He called the owner, who said he planned to tear down the mill and sell the land.

Moore quickly intervened. “So basically, I bought the thing and it changed my entire life.”

The Moores launched Bob’s Red Mill in 1978. Charlee did the bookwork and packaged many of the original products. The company served the Pacific Northwest until a fire destroyed the mill in 1988. Moore moved the business to a larger plant in Milwaukie (also in Oregon). The company supplied goods to buyers across the country within a few years.

Overseas sales cranked up in the 2000s. Bob’s Red Mill now markets more than 200 products in more than 70 countries.

Moore was famous for his folksy style, red vest, newsie caps, and small-town pace. He used older machines, complaining that others “screamed, got hot, and went 94 miles per hour. I don’t live my life that way, and I don’t want my food that way.”

On his 81st birthday in 2010, Moore began transferring business control to his staff through an employee stock ownership plan. “The Bible says to do unto others as you would have them do unto you,” he later told Portland Monthly. Rather than selling his business to an outside buyer, Moore chose to invite his more than 700 employees to share ownership and profits.

At age 87, Moore traveled to the village of Carrbridge in Scotland. He won the Golden Spurtle World Porridge Making Championship using his company’s steel cut oats. The prize was for classic porridge, made only with oats, water, and salt. Portland Monthly reported that Moore preferred to add tasty additions to his daily oats, including walnuts, sliced banana, and turbinado sugar.

Moore is survived by his sister, three sons, nine grandchildren, and six great-grandchildren. His wife died in 2018.

Why? We serve God well by using the interests He gives us in positive ways that serve—and therefore love—others.

For more about how to serve God and our neighbors in our work, see Kingdom Calling: Vocational Stewardship for the Common Good by Amy L. Sherman in our Recommended Reading. 

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