‘Dancing Man’ Dies at Missoula Outdoor Concert
Western Montana's "Dancing Man" has passed away.
77-year-old Ronald Kephart and his partner attended almost every outdoor musical event in the Bitterroot Valley for many years. Kephart collapsed Wednesday during a Big Sky Mudflaps concert at Missoula's "Out to Lunch" series in Caras Park. Ron was pronounced dead due to cardiovascular issues at a hospital later.
He was part of Missoula and the Bitterroot Valley's famous dancing couple, a fixture at 'Out to Lunch' for many years. The couple also was in the audience of many outdoor concerts up and down the Bitterroot Valley.
I was sitting in the seat directly behind him when it happened," said eyewitness David Eliason. "He was dancing, paused, and then slowly went to the ground and closed his eyes. His wife cradled his head and was talking to him for only a minute until an ER nurse who was nearby began CPR. EMS took over after about 5 minutes and continued CPR. They also used a defibrillator but couldn’t seem to get a pulse back. He eventually was put into the ambulance about 20 minutes after he first collapsed. I feel sad for his wife. She was right there during the whole ordeal. Still though, something kind of poetic about him going while dancing at 'Out to Lunch.' He was such a fixture of Missoula. Downtown won’t quite be the same."
The Missoula Downtown Association also issued a statement and scheduled a moment of silence Thursday evening to honor Kephert:
“Mr. Kephart was one of Downtown Missoula’s biggest enthusiasts, attending virtually every public live music event in the heart of our community,” said DMP Executive Director Linda McCarthy. “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. A moment of silence will take place this evening at the Downtown ToNight Summer Series in Caras Park to recognize the passing of this special man."
Kephart had a medical emergency two years ago in Hamilton at a Ravalli County Museum autumn event. He recovered and had been regularly attending the outdoor concerts such as Hamilton Tonight on Main Street and the Bitterroot Community Band concerts at Claudia Driscoll Park. He was at the opening "Tuesday at 12" noon concert June 12th in Hamilton. The couple had attended almost every "Tuesday at 12" performance since it started in the 1980s.