December 11, 2012, The Columbian
Every time Bob Moser entered a room, there was this automatic easing of tensions. Representatives of even the most disparate groups seemed to sense they were about to be steered toward collaboration and compromise.
Our community lost more than just a powerful consensus builder with the passing of Moser on Sunday at age 82. We also lost an all-around good guy. And with contention rising in many of today’s public arenas, this loss is felt by countless people who love Clark County as much as they loved Bob.
Before we recite Moser’s best-known accomplishments, here’s one of our favorites from lower on the list, one that did not change the world but illustrates Moser’s eagerness to bring people together in common cause. In 1993, he felt the need to organize the Robert Moser Society. Bob found almost 600 of them, managed to contact about 200, distributed a newsletter and even organized a “convention” in Columbia, Mo. We’re sure our Bob was the friendliest of the seven who showed up.
Back home, Moser made a positive and lasting difference in many areas of public life. Professionally, he will be remembered as the affable, open and effective director of public relations at Clark College for 30 years. Working with the alumni association, he led or assisted many campaigns, such as the one that built the chime tower on the campus.
In elected office, Moser built an 18-year record as Port of Vancouver commissioner. It started with Moser securing 64 percent of the vote in his first election, and continued with a steadfast attention to two priorities: public participation in the setting of port policy, and an abiding interest in environmental protections. Moser found ways to balance his environmental advocacy with innovative ways to boost the port’s commercial interests. In a 2006 Columbian story, Moser said: “I’ve tried to be a community advocate and a port watchdog. A lot of other things grew out of that,” including an effort that led to the port’s sale of a 520-acre Ridgeport dairy property, allowing expansion of the Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge.
There were many other endeavors that drew smaller headlines but impacted many people. For more than three decades, Bob was master of ceremonies at the summer Seafarers Center International Festival at Esther Short Park.
In the same way he rallied Robert Mosers, he also brought runners together, forming the Clark County Track Club. Beyond the many newspaper stories, Moser reached out to readers of The Columbian as a regular contributor of thoughtful, engaging and productive letters to the editor, always lighting the positive path toward making our community better.
Even after all of this, we still suspect that, when many local residents think of Bob Moser, their first vision will be that unmistakable ear-to-ear grin. A role model in many ways, he always placed community ahead of self.
As our sympathies are extended to Bob’s family, we know many people will reminisce, count the contributions and follow his example by, first, smiling.