Portland businessman and philanthropist Earle M. Chiles passed away on Thursday, June 23, after a long illness. Chiles was a longtime supporter of the University of Portland and had been a member of the University’s Board of Regents since 1975.
A funeral Mass will be held at 10 a.m. on Friday, July 1, at St. Mary’s Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception, 1716 NW Davis St. in Portland, with University president Rev. Mark L. Poorman, C.S.C., presiding. A luncheon for family and friends will be held afterwards at the Earle A. and Virginia H. Chiles Center on campus.
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.
Chiles and his late parents had a longtime relationship with the University. 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 Chapel of Christ the Teacher.
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 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.