In Memoriam

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Rudie Wilhelm, Jr. ’37

A picture of Rudie Wilhelm Jr.

Rudie Wilhelm Jr. ’37, March 9, 2006, in Portland. At 16, Rudie had taken a summer voyage to Japan, China, and the Philippines—inspiring a lifelong interest in Asia. At Reed, he was selected to be a delegate to the first-ever Japan-America Student Conference in Tokyo, and a year later, chaired the conference. He received a BA from Reed in political science, and following graduation, embarked on a world tour. He then spent three years with the Department of Commerce in Washington, D.C. In 1940, he returned to Portland to work in the family business, Rudie Wilhelm Warehouse Company. During World War II, he served with Ninth Air Force in Egypt, Libya, England, and France, and earned the Bronze Star. In 1945, he took over the family warehouse operation. His work for Reed included service in the alumni association (1941–42; 1946–49) and as a member of the board of trustees (1962–66). Rudie spent 12 years in the Oregon State legislature, beginning in 1946, when he was elected to the House of Representatives. Among many accomplishments during his tenure, he is credited for introducing Oregon’s first fair employment practice measure, and for introducing the legislation that created Portland State University. His community interests brought him prominent positions with the Portland Chamber of Commerce, the Portland City Club, and Associated Oregon Industries; he was a board member of the Oregon Symphony and Historical Society; and was chair of the advisory council for Oregon Health and Sciences University. In 1982, he was awarded the Fourth Class of the Order of the Rising Sun by Emperor Hirohito of Japan for his work with the Japan Society of America and the Japanese Garden Society in Portland. Survivors include three daughters and two sons, 16 grandchildren, eight great-grandchildren, and his brother.

Appeared in Reed magazine: August 2006

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