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William A. Gittelsohn ’48

William A. Gittelsohn ’48, Reed alumnus and trustee, died on June 24, 2000, at age 75 of cancer. A memorial service was held on June 26 in the Eliot Hall chapel. Gittelsohn was noted for his tireless energy and enthusiasm for Reed College, with which he had a longtime association. In addition to his service on the board, which began in 1987 as an alumni trustee, he volunteered for the development office for almost 50 years, working for the Griffin Society and many committees, and holding the post of chair of the Annual Fund and director and vice president of the alumni board of management. He received the volunteer recognition award for development from Reed in 1993 and the Foster-Scholz Distinguished Service Award in 1998. He was one of the founders of the Gittelsohn-Georges Endowed Scholarship Fund in 1986, and he supported many facets of the college, including the Campaign for Reed College, the Cooley Gallery Art Associates, and the Chinese Humanities Fund. Bill was almost always seen with a camera and was known for his generosity in distributing snapshots to all involved.

Bill was born in San Francisco and attended Berkeley High School. After graduating from Reed in economics in 1948, he earned an MBA at the University of California, Berkeley. Shortly after, he began working for Oregon Laundry (later named Oregon Linen Rental) as a CPA. He became president and copartner of the firm, which had grown into one of the leading linen rental services in the Pacific Northwest. He sold the company in 1986 before retiring.

He held many civic posts in the Portland and Oregon community, including those of president of the Oregon State Laundry Owners Association, treasurer of the Portland City Club, and member of the board of organizations that included the Jewish Federation of Portland, the World Affairs Council, the American Jewish Committee, the Cannon Beach Historical Society, and the Cannon Beach Homeowners Association.

He was married for more than 50 years to Shirley Georges Gittelsohn ’49, a well known Pacific Northwest artist. After retirement, he and Shirley spent time at their homes in Portland and at Cannon Beach, and in Mexico at Vida del Mar.

Survivors include the Gittelsohn’s three children, Dena, John, and Judith, and one grandchild.

Appeared in Reed magazine: August 2000

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