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From Marcellus to Montana

Former Marcellus teacher shares stories of a life in the wilderness

Bill Moran, now 71, a former Marcellus teacher and resident who moved to an isolated area of Montana in 1977 where he still lives today. Also pictured is his dog Ted.

Bill Moran, now 71, a former Marcellus teacher and resident who moved to an isolated area of Montana in 1977 where he still lives today. Also pictured is his dog Ted.

In protest of a “no-fail policy” passed by the school board, he changed all his student’s grades to an A. When asked by the principal to change the grades back, he resigned his position mid-year.

In support of their teacher, students staged a walk-out a few days later and a great number of people attended the next school board meeting to show their support for him, even though he was home sick with Mononucleosis, he said.

The policy was repealed by the board, in part due to Moran’s actions, but he did not return to teach there again.

After that, he taught at West Genesee High School part-time for one year and ran the bookstore full-time. Despite the store’s popularity, he was disheartened by competition from big-box stores like Barnes and Noble and K-Mart.

The business was successful enough that he was able to sell it before leaving though, which is how he had enough money for a down payment on his land.

The decision to move did not come completely out of the blue. Moran had previous experiences in Montana and had been thinking about moving out there for some time.

He had spent four summers at Flathead Lake in the early 70s participating in biological studies as a part of the National Defense Education Act and also had taken a summer road trip through the American west to see its natural wonders.

Going to Flathead Lake was his first experience west of the Mississippi and he was smitten with the landscapes almost immediately.

“After about 10 minutes in Montana, I said ‘Woah, I want to be here,’” he said. “So for a number of years my objective was to eventually move to Montana.”

His interest in moving to Montana was also piqued by some reading he had done. Books by Bradford Angier, who wrote about homesteading in Canada, and Eric Ryback, who was the first person to hike the entire Appalachian Trail, served as inspiration.

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