August 12, 2016
The University of Portland lost a dear friend and colleague when Robert W. (Bob) Franz died on August 9, 2016. A member of our Board of Regents and a generous supporter of the University, he will be forever remembered as an astute and successful businessman who generously gave his time and talents to the community he loved.
Born in Portland in 1924, Bob was a long-time resident of Vancouver, Washington. He is survived by his sister, Elsie Franz Finley, and preceded in death by his parents Joseph Franz and Elizabeth Streib Franz.
Together, Bob and Elsie have had an enormous impact throughout Oregon and Washington, especially at the University of Portland and Providence Health & Services.
Bob attended Columbia Prep, the high school that for many years was on the campus of the University of Portland. After serving in the Armed Forces during World War II, he received his bachelor’s degree in finance from the University of Notre Dame in 1948. After graduating, he returned to Oregon and went to work for the family-owned First State Bank of Milwaukie, the beginning of a 40-year career in banking.
In 1959 he was elected president of the Independent Bankers Association of the Twelfth Federal Reserve District. In 1962, he became president of First State Bank of Oregon, and in 1979 became chairman of the board and CEO of the bank and its holding company, PacWest Bancorp. In 1982 PacWest Bancorp merged its subsidiary banks to form Pacific Western Bank and a merger with KeyCorp followed in 1986. Bob served as chairman of Key Bank of Oregon’s Board of Directors. In 1988 he was inducted into the Oregon Bank Association’s Hall of Fame.
University of Portland president Fr. Mark L. Poorman, C.S.C., noted, “Bob was a humble man, straightforward and direct, but a man whose generosity over his lifetime has left a lasting legacy. The University of Portland community will deeply miss him as a faithful supporter and visionary leader.”
Bob and his sister Elsie have had close ties with the University of Portland and the Congregation of the Holy Cross for decades, including being members of the University of Portland’s Board of Regents. Bob served on the board since 1979 and was chairman from 1981-1985.
In 1995, Bob and Elsie gave a gift that enabled Franz Hall to be built, which transformed academics at the University of Portland. They later established the Franz Chair in Entrepreneurship and the Franz Center for Leadership, Entrepreneurship, and Innovation. Their intent, as Bob said, was to help make the University “one of the major educational institutions on the West Coast. In order to do that, somebody had to step forward.”
Bob received the University of Portland’s Distinguished Alumnus Award in 1983 and an honorary Doctor of Public Service degree in 1988. He was also an inaugural member of the Pamplin School of Business Hall of Fame in 2009, recognized for his leadership and passion for entrepreneurship.
Their longtime relationship with Providence Portland Medical Center led he and Elsie to establish the Robert W. Franz Cancer Research Center, led by Walter J. Urba, M.D., Ph.D., which is located within Providence Cancer Center in Portland. The Center’s main area of investigation is cancer immunotherapy, a specialized field of study focused on triggering the immune system to fight cancer. “We mourn the passing of Bob Franz, our good friend and long-time supporter and champion of cancer research at Providence,” said Dr. Urba. “Both Bob and Elsie have been instrumental to the development of a world-class immunotherapy program at Providence Cancer Center. We are forever grateful to Bob for his many years of friendship and support.” Bob was also a member of both the Board of Directors for the Providence Portland Medical Center Foundation and the Providence Hospital Community Board.
Bob was an avid gardener who prided himself on his beautiful rhododendron garden. He served as a member of the Board for the Rhododendron Species Foundation at the Weyerhaeuser Campus, Federal Way and chairman of the Board of the Japanese Garden Society. He was president of the Columbia Pacific Council of the Boy Scouts of America; member of the Board of the Oregon Symphony Association; director and treasurer of the Oregon Chapter of the American Cancer Society; member of the National Chamber of Commerce; member of the State Banking Board; and director of Dwyer Community Hospital, Willamette Savings and Loan, and United States Bakery.
The Funeral Mass and burial will be in private. A Memorial Mass will be held at 1:30 p.m. on September 6 in the Chapel of Christ the Teacher on the University of Portland campus. A reception will follow for friends and family in Bauccio Commons. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made in his memory to the University of Portland or the Robert W. Franz Cancer Research Center at the Providence Cancer Center.