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OHSU remembers Bob Moore, creator of Bob and Charlee Moore Institute for Nutrition & Wellness

Moore, founder of Bob’s Red Mill, passed away Saturday, leaving a legacy of philanthropy and advocacy for nutrition and health
Bob Moore, center, with his wife Charlee, an internationally recognized icon of nutrition and health, an innovative Oregon business leader, a visionary philanthropist and a longtime friend of Oregon Health & Science University, died Saturday, Feb. 10, at age 94. (OHSU)
Bob Moore, center, with his wife, Charlee, an internationally recognized icon of nutrition and health, an innovative Oregon business leader, a visionary philanthropist and a longtime friend of Oregon Health & Science University, died Saturday, Feb. 10, at age 94. (OHSU)

The Oregon Health & Science University community is saddened by the passing of Bob Moore, an internationally recognized icon of nutrition and health, an innovative Oregon business leader, a visionary philanthropist and a longtime friend of OHSU. He died Saturday, Feb. 10, at age 94.

OHSU is proud to be among the many educational and non-profit organizations to have received support from Bob and his late wife, Charlee, who passed away in 2018. The most notable of multiple gifts to OHSU was their 2011 commitment of $25 million to create the Bob and Charlee Moore Institute for Nutrition & Wellness. Inspired by the couple’s personal passion for healthy foods and OHSU’s global leadership in research linking nutrition to the development of chronic diseases, the institute is a unique approach to translating science into direct community benefit. The institute is a springboard for outreach efforts with community partners to reduce health disparities through healthy food, as well as innovative educational programs, population research and advocacy for evidence-based public policies in the realm of food and nutrition.

In OHSU’s research, the Moores found a powerful scientific basis for the message they had championed for decades: Good nutrition is the key to lifelong health. That simple philosophy guided their business practices and reflected their deeply held personal values, and through the Moore Institute, has the potential to change lives for generations to come. The Moore Institute’s newly appointed director, Leslie Myatt, Ph.D., is dedicated to honoring Bob and Charlee Moore’s vision well into the future.

Promoter of healthy eating

Kent Thornburg, Ph.D. (OHSU)
Kent Thornburg, Ph.D. (OHSU)

Bob, who founded Bob’s Red Mill Natural Foods with Charlee in 1978, was instantly recognizable to millions as the face on every package of whole-grain flours, cereals, baking mixes and hundreds of other products shipped to 80+ countries from the company’s Milwaukie headquarters. He was also a familiar presence at both the mill and the company’s flagship retail store and restaurant, frequently engaging with customers as a tour guide, maître D or, when the mood struck, house pianist. Bob was more than just an affable image; he walked the talk when it came to promoting healthy eating. With an insatiable curiosity about science and technology, Bob developed a keen interest in the work of OHSU researcher Kent Thornburg, Ph.D., a leading force behind OHSU’s reputation as a global authority on the developmental origins of health and disease, or DOHaD. Bob was intrigued by Thornburg’s findings linking poor nutrition during prenatal development and early childhood to a higher lifelong risk of obesity, diabetes, heart disease and other chronic conditions. From this fruitful relationship grew the concept of the Moore Institute, which under Thornburg’s leadership created a much-needed mechanism for translating laboratory breakthroughs into practical interventions with impact on real people.

Bob and Charlee didn’t just donate money; they were highly engaged in the work, becoming part of fabric of the Institute. Bob shared his love of whole grains, gave tours of the Bob’s Red Mill factory and loved to hear about the progress of the Moore Institute’s work, spending hours discussing the latest scientific research with Thornburg. Recently, Bob’s enthusiasm and generosity were instrumental in the creation of a documentary film currently in production that will elevate awareness of DOHaD and the Institute globally.

“From the first day I met Bob, he was always asking how we could convince people to eat a healthier diet,” said Thornburg, professor emeritus in the OHSU School of Medicine. “He saw it as his mission, and it became ours as well. While we have only scratched the surface of our work to improve the health of Oregonians and beyond, we will always be driven by his compulsion to put the health of people over his profits. Bob Moore was an extraordinary person, but more than that he was a dear friend who will be greatly missed.”

OHSU was deeply gratified to learn that the Moores considered their work with the university to be the culminating legacy of their life’s work and passion for healthy living and eating. OHSU and OHSU Foundation members who had the opportunity to interact with Bob will always remember his boundless energy, infectious exuberance and unflagging enthusiasm for life. Bob is truly irreplaceable, but he and Charlee will continue to inspire positive change far into the future. OHSU extends its deepest sympathies to Bob’s family, friends, business associates and customers across the globe.

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