Robert W. Moran

 

Robert Walter Moran, a Red Lodge cultural icon and mentor to many, passed away peacefully in Red Lodge on Sunday, Nov. 10, 2013 at age 88 following a full and well-loved life. “Bob” was born Oct. 5, 1925, and was raised by Dr. Edwin M. Adams and his wife, Marion Edwards Adams, the librarian of the Red Lodge Carnegie Library. Nurtured by these eminent personalities and surrounded by endless shelves of books, he developed an early passion for literature and the arts that later resulted in his many gifts to his community over his lifetime.

Following graduation from Red Lodge High School and two years at then Montana State University in Missoula, he served in the U.S. Army from March 1944 to May 1946 in the Rhineland and central Europe as a message center chief, trained in library science in London. Upon his return to the states, he finished his college education at Missoula. A brilliant student, he continued his studies as a Fulbright Scholar at the Sorbonne in Paris, France. He taught French and English briefly at Red Lodge High School before becoming the assistant to Mrs. Adams at the Red Lodge library. Upon her death in 1965, he continued as sole librarian, serving the community as its literary champion for 50 years before retiring at age 80. His role as librarian was legendary, knowing readers’ interests well enough that he left piles of books on their porches and car seats. There were no “late fees” ever, and he remembered every reader as well as every book that was still out. The library served as the cultural center of the community, where he was able to assume significant roles. One was as coordinator of the Red Lodge Festival of Nations. For over 50 years, he inspired participants who preserved the cultures of the early immigrant Finns, Scandinavians, English, Irish, Welsh, Scots, Italians, Germans and Yugoslavians. He was also a founder of the Red Lodge Music Festival, which celebrated its 50th year this summer as a memorable camp for students and faculty from many states.

A long-time board member, he saw the “Aspen of Montana” camp grow from nine students to 241 in his beloved hometown. He was a 50-year perfect-attendance member of the Red Lodge Inquiry Club, where he was the unofficial historian and events planner, feeding his insatiable curiosity through members’ bi-monthly presentations of their expertise. He was active in the Carbon County Historical Society, where he had hopes for a permanent Festival of Nations exhibit. He was a member of the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) Granite Post 4725, Red Lodge, which will assist in providing full graveside honors following his memorial service. He was a long-time active member of the Community Church of Red Lodge, U.C.C. and its predecessor the Red Lodge Congregational Church.

He was a member of the Star in the West Masonic Lodge No. 40, Red Lodge. He had strong interest in all things new--residents, movies, books--and retained knowledge of all of them with amazing ability. Once a newcomer discovered the library, Bob made sure he or she knew which local non-profit needed him or her, young or old, mentoring each to become a meaningful contributing member of the community. Debonair and gracious, he was always the gentleman. Following the Adamses’ passing he was an extended family member of Rev. Donald and Millicent Scanlin, survived by their children Tom, Steve, Carolyn and Betsy. In truth, however, all of Red Lodge was his family, embracing him as he embraced them. Special thanks to The Willows assisted care in Red Lodge for allowing Bob to thrive and continue to be engaged in a fully active life during his last year. Bob supported and participated in many non-profits during his lifetime. Inspired by his example, folks are encouraged to give memorials to the entity of one’s choice. A celebration of his life will be held at 11 a.m. at the Community Church, 308 S. Broadway in Red Lodge on Saturday, Nov. 16, 2013, followed by interment with graveside military honors at the Red Lodge Cemetery. A hot lunch will be served at the church. Smith-Olcott Funeral Chapel of Red Lodge is in charge of arrangements. Visitation will be at the chapel, at 201 N. Broadway, from 1 p.m. - 5 p.m. on Friday, Nov. 15, with family members present from 7 to 9 p.m. Condolences may be sent to P.O. Box 65, Red Lodge, MT 59068 or through smitholcott@gmail.com.