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Famed dancer from Missoula's Out to Lunch dies

Famed dancer from Missoula's Out to Lunch dies

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Ronald Kephart, the famed dancer seen regularly in the crowd at Missoula's Out to Lunch series, died on Wednesday.

The Missoula County Sheriff's Office identified Kephart, age 77, in a post Thursday on Facebook. He experienced "cardiovascular issues" at Caras Park and was transported to a local hospital, where he died, according to the post. Daly Leach Funeral Home also said that Kephart had died.

“Mr. Kephart was one of Downtown Missoula’s biggest enthusiasts, attending virtually every public live music event in the heart of our community,” Downtown Missoula Partnership Executive Director Linda McCarthy said in a news release. "His joyful and inspiring dance will be missed by many Missoulians.

"While we mourn the passing of this intriguing individual, we find comfort knowing he was doing what he loved when his life on this Earth came to a close.”

The release said they planned a moment of silence for him on Thursday at Downtown Night.

Gary Gillett, director of the Missoula City Band, said he met Kephart at the band's performances in Bonner Park in the early 1990s. Just as he did at Caras, Kephart stood in the audience and made free-form, interpretive dance moves.

Gillett became friendly with Kephart, who once explained that he "just moved to move," and the two would often discuss music. He said Kephart was a well-spoken, intelligent and interesting person who was "so supportive of live music in western Montana," whether in Missoula or the Bitterroot.

Gillett said he inquired with Kephart about doing a good-natured project about his story to dispel the frequent rumors about his background. Kephart, though, preferred that it remained mysterious.

"That's the way he wanted it," Gillett said.

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