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Jon Eliassen, the current CEO of Red Lion Hotel Corp., sent us this afternoon his impressions of H. Norman Schwarzkopf's contributions on the Washington Water Power board, from 1993 to 1997.
To counter any who might have thought an Army general was just window dressing on the board, Eliassen, who a company VP of finance at the time, recalls a man fully focused on the utility's business.
Eliassen's offered comment is:
"The General was a thoughtful, articulate and engaged board member, and he was always well prepared and always willing to offer comments and questions—Great military leaders translate well into very capable leaders in many business situations, and Norm was no exception. It was a pleasure to work with him for those four years he sat on our boards of WWP and of Pentzer."
As just a little footnote to the obituary of former U.S. Army General Norman Schwarzkopf, we'll mention that the guy served for more than three years on the board of Washington Water Power, now Avista.
In 1997 SR business writer Bert Caldwell took note of Mr. Schwarzkopf's departure from the utility's board:
Gen. H. Norman Schwarzkopf will step down from the Washington Water Power Co. board of directors in May after four years of service. With the consent of shareholders, he will be replaced by John Kelly, chairman, president and chief executive officer of Alaska Air Group and Alaska Airlines.
The changes are the first since Schwarzkopf joined the Spokane utility's board in 1993. The company said schedule demands dictated the decision by Schwarzkopf, who has accepted positions on several other corporate and nonprofit boards since he retired from the U.S. Army after leading allied forces in the Gulf War.
Taking the board position was an obvious career move for the general at a time when he could partay his public fame into some sort of corporate credential.
One has to believe WWP brought Schwarzkopf onto the board not so much because of his executive insights.
Likely, it was WWP's attempt to add a little glitz to its board.