June 24, 2016
Portland businessman and philanthropist Earle M. Chiles passed away on Thursday, June 23 after a long illness. He was 83. Chiles was a longtime supporter of the University of Portland and had been a member of the University’s Board of Regents since 1975.
Chiles received his undergraduate degree from Menlo College and held a master’s degree in business administration from Stanford University. As president of the Chiles Foundation, he assisted thousands of Oregonians through grants to non-profit organizations and transformed lives through gifts to higher education and medical research. He was the chief executive officer of Chiles and Affiliated Companies and served on the board of directors of Fred Meyer, Inc. His father, Earle A. Chiles, was the stepson of local supermarket pioneer, Fred Meyer.
“We will be forever grateful to Earle Chiles’s steadfast devotion and generosity to the University of Portland over the decades,” said Fr. Poorman. “His many gifts are visible across the campus, from the Earle A. and Virginia H. Chiles Center and Pilot Athletics to Campus Ministry and student scholarships. In addition, his inspiring leadership and service influenced others to add their support to the campus, as well.”
Chiles and his late parents had a longtime relationship with the University. “The priests and brothers of Holy Cross were always important to my family. They stand out worldwide for their spiritual, moral and ethical leadership,” Chiles reminisced in 2010. “So, when Father Oddo asked for help in building an athletic and events pavilion, we made the dream a reality. The University is a tremendous asset to the community. It is a wonderful shining diamond in all arenas.”
Spanning over 40 years, Earle Chiles and the Chiles Foundation generously contributed over $10 million to the University. Most significantly, the Chiles Foundation provided the lead gift to construct the Earle A. and Virginia H. Chiles Center, which was dedicated in 1984. The center ushered in a new era for the University, and it quickly became a cultural and athletic center not only for the campus but the region.
He was also a major supporter of Pilot Athletics, with the Chiles Foundation providing funding for its programs and student-athletes. In 1994, Earle was named to the Pilots Hall of Fame for his decades of support. More recently, in 2011 the Chiles Foundation gave $2 million to support the expansion of the Chiles Center and the renovation of its locker facilities.
In addition to athletics, the Chiles Foundation generously contributed to the Rev. Chester “Pru” Prusynski Endowed Scholarship in Accounting to honor Earle’s longtime friendship with the priest. He also was the benefactor of one of the 14 bells that ring out from the iconic Bell Tower and for many years he provided support for the ongoing floral arrangements in the University’s Chapel of Christ the Teacher.
Higher Education, Medicine and the Arts
Chiles was a recipient of numerous honors and awards from educational and health-related institutions. In addition to his relationship with the University of Portland, Chiles was a trustee emeriti and overseer of Boston University and overseer emeriti of the Boston Symphony Orchestra; a lifetime member of the board of the Oregon Symphony Association; and a life trustee of the High Desert Museum in Bend, Oregon. He was a board member of Providence Portland Medical Foundation; on the advisory board of Providence Heart and Vascular Institute; an honorary member of the advisory board of the Institute of International Education in San Francisco; a past advisory board member of the Graduate Schools of Business at Stanford University and Harvard University; and a past board member of Menlo College.
In 1987, the University of Portland awarded him an Honorary Doctor of Public Service degree. He received an Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters from Boston University; an Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters from Menlo College; a Presidential Medal from University of Oregon; the Aubrey R. Watzek Award from Lewis and Clark College; and the Simon Benson Award for Philanthropy from Portland State University. He was a Senator of the Board at Ludwig Maximilians University in Munich, Germany and was awarded the Silver Cross of Honor from the German Armed Forces.