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Perry Moore

December 21, 1927 ~ May 19, 2017

Service: May 23, 2017 10:00 AM
   Location: Resurrection University Catholic Parish

Perry James Moore III (called “Jim” throughout his life) was born on December 21, 1927, in Lewistown, Montana, and passed away in Bozeman on May 19, 2017, at age 89.  He served as the family anchor and thoughtful advisor to his three children, four grandchildren, and twelve nieces and nephews. A niece, Terry Hanser, related: “We could not have been luckier to have him in Bozeman and welcoming all of us to his house during college and taking everyone to breakfast after church.”

At the time of Jim’s birth, his parents were living on a ranch south of Two Dot. The family soon moved to another ranch on the North Fork of the Musselshell and then to Martinsdale, followed by Lewistown. In 1935, they headed to California to live in Santa Barbara for two years. Jim’s mother, Wilhelmina Galvin Moore, had family in the area. In 1938 they returned to Montana to the ranch west of Two Dot where Jim’s father, Perry Moore, Jr., was born and raised. Jim finished elementary school at the two-room schoolhouse in Two Dot and graduated from Harlowton High School in 1945.

He then enlisted in the Navy and, within a few days of graduation, at age 17, was called up for induction. Boot camp was at the Great Lakes Naval Training Station near Chicago.  World War II ended in August, and soon after that, he was assigned to an escort aircraft carrier and spent about seven months traveling the Pacific Ocean, with stops at the Hawaiian Islands, Midway, Guam and Okinawa. He was discharged in July 1946 and returned to Montana to finish his undergraduate degree at Montana State College in Agricultural Economics.

While at Montana State, he was a member of the original college rodeo team, riding bulls, saddle broncs and bareback horses, even competing at the Cow Palace in San Francisco, where – according to family lore – “the bull got the best of him.” It was through rodeoing that Jim met Kathryn Nash, a campus beauty. She was also an excellent equestrian and remains so to this day. They were married in Bozeman in 1954 and, even after 63 years of marriage, Kay’s eyes twinkled when Jim teased or chided her. The two eventually moved to Kay’s old family farm on Nash Road in Bozeman, and Jim still showed his daredevil side by skiing until an accident on his eightieth birthday.

After graduation Jim returned to the ranch and began to assume some management responsibilities from his father, Perry J. Moore II. Upon his death, Jim became responsible for the entire operation – answerable always to his mother who loved Hereford cattle, so that’s what they continued to raise. Hay for winter feed was produced on the meadows that were irrigated from Little Elk Creek, which flowed through the ranch from its headwaters in the Crazy Mountains.

Three children were born to Jim and Kay – Dianne Aurie Moore (a CPA in Atlanta); Perry J. Moore IV (a Boeing executive of Woodinville, WA); and Steven Francis Moore (rancher on the former Moore Family ranch, Two Dot, MT). Jim’s children, like their father, were educated at the Two Dot Grade School, Harlowton High School, and Montana State University.

During winter days when ranching slowed down, Jim enrolled in a correspondence course in the law, passed the Montana Bar Examination and was admitted to the practice of law in 1967. He was elected to the Montana State Senate the same week. He then began his law practice with Gordon Hickman in Harlowton, earning $7000 during the first year. He told family members with a grin, “I couldn’t charge my friends and neighbors.” In 1975, he opened a law practice in Bozeman but continued to manage the ranch, which he said was “only possible because of reliable ranch employees and an extraordinary employee at the law office.” In 2006, Jim, who had retired from law in 1997, received the Jameson Award from the Montana State Bar, given to an attorney who has exemplified the highest values of the legal profession.

Jim served three sessions in the Senate and was selected by his colleagues as the Republican Minority Leader for his last two.  People admired his ability to listen and deliver measured but direct responses in a discussion, a trait that he passed on to his children. He had an interest in hearing other people’s stories and never failed to say in his crisp way, “Well, tell me about yourself.” He loved talking politics with his brother-in-law, Harry Cosgriffe, the two on opposite sides of the fence. There was a lot of chuckling on both parts. Having a severe hearing loss in later life was particularly difficult for Jim, a social and likable man, although he handled even that with humor. Meeting a niece’s friend, he said, “Hello, I’m Jim and I’m deaf.”

The sons of John Moore and Buck Moore, Jim’s cousins, recall memories of their time at the ranch with Jim. John Moore of Helena said, “We rode double on a horse to herd cattle; he had me work the chutes during inoculation and branding; he helped me understand the workings of the ranch.  In later years, I turned to Jim for family lore. We enjoyed swapping stories, and I had to admit that his were finely honed. I still retell some of his stories, hoping to add the same dry wit that he did.” Charles Moore, who was raised in Great Falls and worked on the ranch during five summers, said about Jim: “He was always the first person up in the morning ready to work and there at the end of the day to help me in particular because I was such a greenhorn when I started working there. He had that twinkle in his eye and never shied away from confrontation and never hesitated to make the hard decisions. You all know how proud he was of everybody in the family.”

Jim spent his retirement years tending to his pristine two-acre lawn, advising family members (never without being asked), and writing fiction, including one volume of short stories and five novels, all published by Janet Muirhead Hill.  He could spin a good yarn, a trait he inherited from his father. His stories were influenced by his background as a rancher and lawyer. 

Jim was empathetic with Native Americans and published an article in Montana Magazine about their plight. He told family members with regret that his grandfather homesteaded in Montana, as many did, and “ran off the Crows.”

After Mrs. Wilhelmina Moore’s death, the ranch was divided among Jim and his four siblings. Originated by his grandfather in about 1873, the ranch remains in the Moore Family, a fact that gave Jim great satisfaction.

Survivors include sisters, Ellen Moore Hanser of Broadview (Bill, deceased) and Kay Moore Gleason of Carmel (Jerry). Ellen commented that she is at peace with her brother’s death because “He was a good man who lived a good life.” Sisters, Peg Moore Cosgriffe (Harry) and Bonnie Moore Willis (Gary) predeceased their brother and dear friend. Besides Jim’s three children, he is survived by beloved daughters-in-law, Sue Moore and Kathy Moore, and Aurie Moore’s significant other, Peter West. Grandchildren include Sanford and Rachel Moore (parents, Sue and Steve) and Christine and Julianne Moore (parents, Kathy and Perry J.) in whom he took grandfatherly pride. His nieces and nephews will miss the man who served as a strong presence and clear-thinking guide in their lives.

Services for Jim Moore will be held at the Resurrection University Catholic Parish at 1725 11th Avenue in Bozeman at 10 am on Tuesday, May 23, 2017. A reception will follow. Jim’s ashes will be scattered at Pedestal Rock on the old Moore Ranch.

Contributions in Jim Moore’s name to Resurrection Parish in Bozeman would be appreciated.

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