Book closes on Red Lodge’s gentle friend

Photo by Alastair Baker

Full Military honors given for

Bob Moran by VFW Granite

Peak Post #4725.

The Late Robert Moran was verbally applauded for his love of people and the world in general at the Red Lodge Community Church last Saturday when approximately 300 people attended a Celebration of Life service being held there. Moran died Sunday, Nov. 10 at the age of 88. Moran’s passing has stirred up many memories in others of his tireless pursuit to explore cultures and his involvement in the Festival of Nations, The Red Lodge Music Festival, The Carbon County Historical Society and, of course, running the Red Lodge Carnegie Library for 50 years. His quiet charm and grace also acknowledges that it’s okay to be unassuming, and still leave an indelible mark on the fabric of the town. Opening the service Pastor David Munson, called him a “good man.” “He was one who crossed boundaries of human relationships and one who left his mark,” said Munson. A chair sat empty at the back of the church hall, a mark of respect as to where he used to sit. Opening the tributes was Betsy Scanlin, a long-standing friend of Moran’s, who asked the audience, “Weren’t we honored to know this man?” She asked how many of you checked out a book from him? And how many still have that book? “Bob knew who you were, what book it was and probably the day you checked it out. He had such a mind for detail; it was just fascinating that someone could be an historian and our friend. He also had a heart for people. My family called him Bobby. What I didn’t know about him was he was a WWII Veteran and his infantry sustained losses of 200 percent,” she said. Scanlin went on to recall Moran’s modesty, taking about his combat missions and being awarded the Bronze Star. “And that is a part of Bob many of us did not know. But Bob did not dwell on the past, he honored the past, celebrated the old: the elderly Adamses who took him in, the cultures of the Festival of Nations. He immersed himself in the present and the future. He took over the job of coordinator for the Festival a couple of years after my father had helped found it in 1950. She called him a “news junkie”, watching everything, including, she joked “God forbid, Larry King Live with my father. When my father passed, he was my mother’s companion watching the news and then it was my turn.” “When you were in Bob’s presence you knew you where in the presence of greatness,” she said. “We’ve all be influenced by him, we’ve been moved to explore new things all the time and use our abilities to make our community the best it can be. And a unique community,” she said. Tom Flaherty called Moran “a quiet type” but if someone had a question on Red Lodge history, Moran “always had the answer.” “He was the back bone of so many things in Red Lodge,” said Flaherty. He recalled kids always called the library, ‘Bob’s library.” Marilee Duncan, Festival of Nations, outlined two lines from the Festival song that encapsulated Moran. “The Festival of Nations welcomes you, here where everyone is your friend.” And the last line, “Where every day is a holiday.” “Did any one ever see Bob mad? Sad? Not optimistic? Of course not! For him everyday was a holiday, and so to have 9 days and nights of festive gaiety, that was so much frosting for Bob,” she said. “He is ageless and timeless. “I can’t believe he was only 25 when he helped organize the Festival. There should be a Masters program in organizational leadership and model it after Bob Moran,” Duncan said. “If we had Bob in the Middle East, we’d have some problems solved.” Jean Owen of the Friends of the Library, called Moran a “virtual card catalogue.” “He knew what was out and what was over due but he was also a one man book mobile. If he found some books he thought someone in Red Lodge might like, he’d take them to their home, and leave them on their porch or in their cars. Happened to me a couple of times,” she said. He was the “best ticket seller” for the Friends of the Library Annual Dinner and even when he was in the Willows, he “set his own record, sold more tickets than ever before.” Ken Gilstrap representing the Red Lodge Music Festival had Moran on his “list of one of the greatest people I’ve ever known.” “He played French horn in the Carbon County Band, and by 1963 started the Music Festival. He had Aspen-like visions, got rehearsal space and accommodation and enthusiastically handled all the details.” In his haste to start the Music Festival, Gilstrap recalls Moran accidentally advertising it a day early and the orchestra scrambling to get ready. “We presented the first concert without a rehearsal,” he said. “50 years, 7,000 students.” He ended with an Aristotle saying which he felt summed up Moran. “The antidote for 50 enemies is one friend.” The last speaker was Merv Coleman representing the Inquiry Club. “It was an honor and pleasure having coffee with Bob at City Bakery almost every morning for the past 8 years. Without fail he’d have an apple turnover. At our Inquiry meeting last Thursday, all present had an apple turnover in honor of Bob,” said Coleman. Inquiry member Dave Staffer wrote, “He was the undisputed heart and soul of the Inquiry Club.” “He was the Go-To-Guy for anything. The club historian for sure, a member for over 50 years, and he never missed a meeting. According to the Inquiry Club constitution, ‘members should be selected who are congenial in nature and spirit’ I cannot think of any one who exemplifies those values more than Bob Moran,” Coleman said. At the service, a string quartet played pieces by Haydn and Bach. The Red Lodge Theatre Company also sang the Bob Moran Song to the tune of ‘Barbara Ann’ at the services end. Moran was given full military honors and a 21 gun salute at Red Lodge Cemetery immediately afterwards by members of VFW Granite Peak Post #4725.