KNCB Moore, 20th century Aspen pioneer, dies at 92

Andre Salvail
The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO, Colorado

ASPEN – Kenneth Moore, a longtime Aspenite and entrepreneur with a colorful and complex sense of humor, died Monday at his home in Santa Barbara, Calif. He was 92.

In the mid-1950s, Moore built a three-story structure at the base of Aspen Mountain, at the site of an old tramway building, that became the Tipple Inn, Copper Kettle restaurant and the Tippler bar. He served on the Aspen City Council for 18 months in 1962-63; in the mid-1970s, he mounted an unsuccessful run for Pitkin County sheriff.

In his later years, he became a prolific letter writer to The Aspen Times, and contributed numerous blog entries to the Times’ Facebook page. He signed letters with the initials of his full name, Kenneth Neville Charles Blythe Moore (KNCB).

His last entry on the social media site, from April 7, recalls the Dec. 14 death of his wife, Betty, who was 78.

“I am 92 and my wife of 78 just died. Being alone after 65 years is more than loneliness,” he wrote simply.

One of his three daughters, Linda Moore Conger, recalled that Moore wrote a weekly column in The Aspen Times titled “The Devil’s Advocate.” He would mine content from Aesop’s fables and Bible stories, substituting local residents for the original names in the stories.

“He delighted in being cryptic, and pretending others were imbeciles because they couldn’t follow his reasoning,” Conger said.

When Moore ran for sheriff, Times owner Bil Dunaway told him he couldn’t publish the column anymore because it gave him an unfair advantage over the other candidates, according to Conger.

“This caused a rift between them that never really healed,” she said.

Times columnist Paul Andersen reflected on Moore’s unique way of relating to others.

“He thought deeply about the human condition and his thoughts on what the human condition ought to be were projected onto Aspen, because he thought Aspen was a place that held those high possibilities and expectations for Aspen’s community,” Andersen said.

And “Kenny,” as Andersen remembered him, had a number of identities. “His early times in Aspen seemed like a whole different life and world, and often he reflected on this in his letters on editor,” Andersen said. “Call him the ‘biting conscience’ because he could be rather caustic, and yet his points were often made in the abstract because he ultimately was a philosopher.”

Moore was born Feb. 22, 1921, in England to Nellie and Seymore Moore. He was the eldest of three children.

His father moved the family twice from England to the United States, and brought entrepreneurial ideas overseas. Moore grew up on the East Coast and gained U.S. citizenship when he was 21. He attended Williams College in Massachusetts and later earned an MBA from Columbia University in New York.

He married Betty after a four-year courtship May 17, 1947, at St. John’s Chapel in Cold Spring Harbor, N.Y. They first visited Aspen on the way to Sun Valley, Idaho, in 1952 and fell in love with it, according to another daughter, Pam Moore. They moved to Aspen full-time in 1956.

Pam Moore wrote in an obituary that “Ken and Betty were pioneers from the get-go, embracing the ideals of Aspen’s ‘Mind, Body and Spirit’ – the philosophy that the Paepckes founded Aspen’s rebirth upon.” The Moores were known for their love of the outdoors, their hand-built house on McLain Flats and a love of hunting mushrooms.

In his column, Moore challenged everyone to be “right, fair and decent. … He truly believed in bringing light to all the subjects of public discourse often making many uncomfortable with his honest assessments,” Pam Moore said.

He took up the letter-writing after the cancellation of his column. Among avid Aspen newspaper readers, Moore always will be linked to the phrase “Be brave, comrades,” which was his closing in most of his letters. Conger said he first saw the phrase on a bulletin board on a visit to California, and his using it led many to believe he was “a Maoist or something.”

“Many readers got the impression he was politically liberal, but in fact he was right of Rush (Limbaugh). He was a devotee of Fox News, 24/7, until the day he died,” Conger said.

Moore is survived by his daughters, Pam Moore, Linda Moore Conger and Valery Kelly; and his grandchildren, Chloe Conger; Keegan and Stella Doble; and Wren and Daisy Kelly.

Over the years Kenneth (KNCB) Moore has penned numerous letters to the Aspen Times opinion pages. Here is a small sampling:

On gay marriage, May 18, 2012:

“Science does not explain gay marriage – human nature does. Gays just want to be included as a natural part of society. This is why they came out of the closet, joined in marriage and adopted a family lifestyle.

“Here is an example of the progress humans make when they take over their own evolution. The barren, the weak and the poor were not fit to survive and evolve until mankind repealed social Darwinism. There might be more creative design in our lives than the evolutionists will admit.”

On coyotes eating pets, May 23, 2011:

“Welcome to the resort environment.

“On the food chain depends our survival. Predators eat prey. It’s nature’s way. Humans are civilized predators who buy their prey in markets filled with death. Humans are naturally compassionate. We realize that coyotes have the right to eat. Our empathy goes to the dog who would kill a kitten.

“We won’t to do better in life if our compassion tries to change the food chain. Good environmentalists would not do that.”

On politically moderate Muslims, Aug. 25, 2010

“I don’t remember reading about nice and decent Muslims fighting jihadists. The majority of peaceful Muslims far outnumber the terrorists among them but moderate Muslims appear to be sitting on the sidelines waiting to see who wins in the war between the religious terrorists and Western civilization.

“I have never read that the Muslim peoples and their countries have spoken out against and acted against: suicide bombers; aircraft hijacking; schools that teach their young to hate the West; dancing in Arabian streets after 9-11; the preaching of the hate of Israel; the jihadists’ murder of so many Muslim innocents; and the widespread ban on Christian churches in the Mideast.

“Nor have they clearly opposed Iran’s nuclear ambitions.

“Perhaps the nice and decent and mighty majority of Muslims are not our enemies, but it is easy for me to see that their do-nothing attitude aids and abets our nasty and murderous jihadist enemies.

“Be brave, comrades.”