Late “Captain Bob” donates multimillion-dollar home to housing trust

Capt. Bob Morris, known for hitchhiking around town and his radio persona, was a longtime advocate of affordable housing in Jackson.
Capt. Bob Morris founded local radio station KMTN. (Courtesy of Jackson Hole Community Housing Trust)

by | Feb 11, 2023 | Housing

Longtime friend Jim Stanford said Captain Bob Morris walked the walk. 

Stanford described him as a tall, tie-wearing Republican who was known for walking — and hitchhiking — around town for decades.

“He was as much an icon of Jackson Hole as the old clock tower in Teton Village,” said Stanford, a local journalist and former town councilor.

But Morris also had a strong social conscience and was outspoken about the issues he cared about. The founder of Jackson’s first FM station, KMTN, Morris was known for his radio ads. 

When he wasn’t encouraging voters to decriminalize marijuana, he was advocating for affordable housing. 

Morris’ famed slogan still rings in Stanford’s ears: “Every free market home deepens our housing crisis.”

Advocacy lives on

Morris passed away in early 2020 at age 87, but his passion for affordable housing lives on: he left his Teton Village home to the Jackson Hole Community Housing Trust to help foster more housing opportunities.

The eco-conscious house — complete with solar heating — is currently listed at almost $5 million.

The gift is one of the largest the housing trust has received. The non-profit housing developer won’t build homes at the site because of zoning restrictions in Teton Village, but proceeds from the sale will go toward other projects potentially closer to town.

“This is a significant piece of the puzzle that’s required to be able to put housing in the ground,” said Katie Bernasek, with the housing trust. 

However, capital is not the only factor needed to solve Jackson’s housing crisis. In a town straddled by public land, the housing trust needs properties it can actually develop.

Now the trust has additional money to build homes, but they still need to work to unlock land. 

“The unfortunate thing is it’s not easy,” Bernasek said. “But that doesn’t deter us, and it doesn’t dampen our spirit.”

‘A crisis’

This is the second time Morris gave property to the trust. He sold a pair of Teton Village condos in the early 2000s for half of their assessed value.

Morris’ passion for making more housing ran deep.

According to Stanford he was the first to call Jackson’s affordable housing situation a “crisis.”

“He could see there was an acute shortage in the community,” Stanford said. “And feared it would get worse — rightly so.”

Stanford noted that Morris passed away right before the pandemic and, in the absence of a formal celebration for him, this donation is a way to celebrate the life of “Captain Bob.”

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About Hanna Merzbach

Hanna is KHOL's senior reporter and managing editor. A lot of her work focuses on housing and local politics, but also women's health — and whatever else she finds interesting. You can hear her reporting around the country and region on NPR, Wyoming Public Radio and community radio stations around the west. She hails from Bend, Oregon, where she reported for outlets such as the Atlantic, High Country News and Oregon Public Broadcasting. In her free time, you can find Hanna scaling rock walls or adventuring in the mountains.

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