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Guitars, flies, community ties

Moscow-Pullman Daily News - 4/10/2021

Apr. 10—Some know Joe McGurkin as the guy who throws popular backyard parties to benefit Moscow Special Olympics. Others know him as the man who gives guitars to local youth.

Still others recognize McGurkin as the face of Moscow Realty. He's worked at the real estate agency since 1983 and owned it since 2000.

McGurkin, 68, sold Moscow Realty earlier this year but will remain the company's designated broker. Sam DeVoe and Jessica Dahlinger, longtime Moscow residents and real estate agents, are now the fourth owners of Moscow Realty, established in 1947.

"It's been a great ride, man," McGurkin said. "I've enjoyed the heck out of it."

McGurkin said he has sold more than 1,000 Moscow homes during his time at Moscow Realty.

Away from the desk, McGurkin estimates he has raised more than $150,000 for Moscow Special Olympics since he arrived in Moscow from Connecticut in 1978.

Each year, McGurkin holds an event called Burgers and Flies in the backyard of his Moscow home. It features a barbecue, fly tying lessons, live music and an auction. All money raised is donated to Moscow Special Olympics.

At the event, McGurkin said he and others teach those who are interested how to tie flies and cast lines for fly fishing, both of which he is a huge fan.

"There have been a lot of people that have come and now are unbelievable tiers and really into the sport," McGurkin said.

"There's nothing more rewarding than catching a fish on a fly that you tie," he added.

Burgers and Flies started in McGurkin's University of Idaho dorm room when he was a student in 1978.

He said five people attended that year and $25 was raised. In 2019 — the last Burgers and Flies because COVID-19 forced the cancellation of the event last year — about 300 people attended and several thousand dollars was raised. He hopes to resume the fundraiser in September depending on COVID-19.

"Every year, it's pretty crazy," McGurkin said.

About seven years ago, McGurkin created a program called First Chords, in which he gives away two new or refurbished guitars to area children each year.

He said he plays the guitar and the program is a way to get children involved in music. The guitars are won in a drawing.

"There are some kids that are really doing well because of that program, which is just awesome," McGurkin said.

McGurkin said he loves his job and will continue his duties as designated broker for at least another three or four years.

"I'm not that guy that's going to retire well and just go home and watch TV all day," he said.

McGurkin said big names from outside the area have inquired about purchasing Moscow Realty in the past, but he said he wanted to sell it to locals who did not want to change the name of the business.

"It's just important I think to keep it local," McGurkin said.

DeVoe, 40, and Dahlinger, 42, fit that local description.

DeVoe has lived her entire life in Moscow and Dahlinger has been in town almost 25 years. They both previously worked at Latah Realty in Moscow.

In addition to their ownership duties, DeVoe serves as a real estate agent for Moscow Realty and Dahlinger is the associate broker.

Dahlinger said Moscow Realty, the oldest real estate agency in Moscow according to McGurkin, is an institution in Latah County.

"We really liked that it was family and community driven here," Dahlinger said.

DeVoe said Moscow Realty, located on the southeast corner of Third and Washington streets across from Moscow City Hall, will undergo some physical changes, including new exterior paint, a "new flare" on the old logo, new exterior lighting and the awning has been removed.

DeVoe said the building improvements will reflect the passion she and Dahlinger have in investing in their community.

"Our future plan is very honestly to be the absolute best real estate agent that we can be in Latah County, keeping family relationships in the forefront," DeVoe said.

Cabeza can be reached at (208) 883-4631, or by email to

"It's been a great ride, man. I've enjoyed the heck out of it."

Joe McGurkin, Moscow Realty owner


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