In Memory of Benjamin R. Whiteley
July 13, 1929 - May 4, 2017
Ben was born and grew up in Des Moines, IA, the son of Hiram and Martha Whiteley. He attended the University of Iowa for one semester, then, his parents having relocated to Oregon, he transferred to Oregon State University. There he met his bride to be, Elaine Yunker. A lifelong Beaver fan, Sig Ep, and supporter of the University, Ben graduated in 1951, then attended the University of Michigan where he received a masters degree in actuarial mathematics.
He and Elaine were married in 1953 and spent the next three years near Dayton, Ohio, while Ben served as a lieutenant in the Air Force.
Upon his discharge Ben accepted a job at Standard Insurance in Portland as an actuarial clerk. His father and later his brother were employed there in sales. Ben spent his entire career at Standard, becoming an actuary, then vice-president of the Group division and finally President and C.E.O. from 1983-1994. He remained on their board until 2000, a total of 44 years with the company. He greatly enjoyed the people and the culture of Standard, which grew and thrived under his leadership.
Ben enjoyed fishing on the Metolius River with his father, golfing, Beaver games, his Tuesday morning breakfasts, and summer trips to the San Juan Islands. An avid reader, he also liked to travel, but most of all he was proud of and loved his wife, his sons, and his extended family. As a person he was kind, gentle, patient, very supportive, modest, insightful, even-tempered, generous, and interested in the lives of others. He was a devoted member of the Vermont Hills United Methodist Church, which he and Elaine have attended for more than 55 years.
Ben also enjoyed the performing arts and was a long-time subscriber to and past president of Portland Opera. He also supported Portland Center Stage, where at the time of his death Ben and Elaine held a record as the only season ticket holders to have seen every production since the company's inception.
During his employment at Standard and after, Ben was a member of many boards and was active with a number of charitable organizations. He served as chairman of the Greenbrier Corporation for nearly 10 years and was also on the boards of Northwest Natural, U.S. Bancorp, and Willamette Industries. He was a Lifetime Trustee of the OSU Foundation and chaired the boards of Pacific University, Oregon Community Foundation, OHSU Foundation and the Cascade-Pacific Council of Boy Scouts of America. He was a trustee of the Providence St. Vincent Medical Foundation and a president of the Arlington Club. Ben enjoyed membership in the Multnomah Athletic Club and Waverley Country Club.
Ben and Elaine were honored in November 2016 with the Vollum Award for Lifetime Philanthropic Achievement, recognizing their 40 years of philanthropic leadership.
Ben was preceded in death by his brother, Jim, and is survived by Elaine, his wife of almost 64 years, and their sons Stephen and Ben. He loved his seven nieces and nephews and their families, and his wonderful cousins in the mid-west.
A memorial service will be held at 2 p.m. Friday, May 19, 2017 at Vermont Hills United Methodist Church in Portland.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Providence St. Vincent Medical Foundation Heart Institute or the Benjamin R. and Elaine M. Whiteley Family Fund of the Oregon Community Foundation, which supports several local charities that Ben believed in, 1221 SW Yamhill Street, Suite 100, Portland OR 97205.