Willamette Valley Company founder and Board Chairman, Robert “Bob” Harrison, passed away on August 27, 2015 at 90 years of age in his home in Eugene, Oregon, surrounded by the love and care of his family.
Bob acquired the Willamette Valley Paper Company in 1952 with a partner, then subsequently became sole owner, renaming it The Willamette Valley Company. He would go on to serve as Chairman of the Board until his death. The love of his business life was shepherding the development of The Willamette Valley Company and providing for the employees and their families.
Bob was born July 18, 1925 in Portland, Oregon to parents Aubrey George and Mary Katherine Harrison. Bob graduated from Grant High School in the spring of 1943. Following graduation, on June 8th of that same year at age 17, with written permission from his mother, Bob enlisted in the Naval Air Corps. As a member of the V-T88 squadron, which primarily flew off the Navy carrier USS Yorktown in the South Pacific, Bob flew 114 documented combat missions for which he was awarded numerous medals, including the Air Medal, the Bronze and Gold Stars and two Distinguished Flying Crosses.
Upon his return from the war, Bob attended the University of Oregon, graduating in 1950 with a B.S. in Business Administration, to which he added graduate studies in political science. While at U of O, he was a member of the Alpha Tau Omega fraternity, eventually serving as its president.
It was also at the U of O that Bob met the lady who was to become the love of his life, Dixie Mae Haugen, a fellow university student from Olympia, Washington. Bob and Dixie were married in a ceremony in Eugene on June 16, 1951. They settled in Eugene where their home was always open to family and friends.
Throughout his life Bob enjoyed many other business interests. He was Chief Executive Officer of U.S. Natural Resources, a publicly traded Fortune 500 company. Bob also served as Chairman of the Board of Diamond Wood Products. Other businesses included Eclectic Products, Inc. (maker of GOOP adhesives, including E6000 and Shoe Goo) and Peterson Arne.
Though fiercely competitive in his love of business, Bob was even more passionate about relationships, especially with his family. A giving person, he enjoyed helping people and seeing them succeed. His interest in people created many long-lasting, impactful relationships locally and around the world.
Every fall, Bob looked forward to pheasant, quail and duck hunting. He was an avid supporter of the University of Oregon and especially loved attending football and basketball games. He served as President of the Oregon Chapter of Young Presidents Organization and of the local YMCA. He also served on numerous advisory boards, including the University of Oregon Business School, Lane Community College, and Sacred Heart Medical Center Foundation, from which he received in 2010 the Tykeson Lifetime Achievement Award.
He is survived by his wife, Dixie; their five children, sons John (Linda), Thomas, Bill (Cheri), Jim (Mandy), daughter, Cathy Rudinsky (Paul); eleven grandchildren, Paul, Hilary, Emily, Natalie, Blake, Benjamin, Matthew, Mary, Rosehanna, Sarah, Robert; one great granddaughter, Adelaide, and another great grandchild due in October. Bob is predeceased by his sister Mary Jane Felker.
Remembrances can be made to the Robert G. Harrison Scholarship fund through the University of Oregon Foundation, Eugene Young Life, Eugene Youth for Christ, Volunteers in Medicine or Serenity Lane.