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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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George Weyerhaeuser Sr., leaves legacy in Longview, on industry after death

June 17, 2022 Updated Sat., June 18, 2022 at 4:32 p.m.

By Katie Fairbanks Daily News

George Weyerhaeuser Sr., the fourth-generation heir of his family’s timber company, died June 11 at the age of 95, leaving a lasting legacy on the region and industry.

Weyerhaeuser became CEO in 1966, leading the company through 25 years of changes that affect the Fortune 500 company today.

“George was an extraordinary person and leader – one of the most influential in the history of the industry,” said Devin Stockfish, president and chief executive officer, in a news release. “Over his many years as president and CEO, he brought transformational changes to our company, including important advances in sustainable, high-yield forestry and wood products research, as well as expansion into overseas markets, among many other achievements.”

The Weyerhaeuser family is planning a memorial service for later this summer, the press release states.

George Hunt Walker Weyerhaeuser was born July 8, 1926, in Seattle, to Helen (Walker) Weyerhaeuser and John Philip Weyerhaeuser Jr., grandson of company co-founder Frederick Weyerhaeuser, according to his obituary.

Three years later, the company opened its first mill in Longview – the largest in the world at the time, according to the company.

During its heyday, Weyerhaeuser employed as many as 5,000 workers locally, according to TDN archives. An April Weyerhaeuser report says the company earned $771 million in net earnings in the first quarter of 2022.

In 1935, an 8-year-old George Weyerhaeuser first made headlines when he was kidnapped in Tacoma and held for ransom. According to his obituary, Weyerhaeuser “did not let the experience derail his life nor cloud his feelings toward other people.”

Weyerhaeuser served in the Navy from 1944 to 1946 and graduated from Yale in 1949.

Unlike many heirs, Weyerhaeuser joined the ranks at the beginning of his career, working at the Longview kraft mill in 1949 and 1950, according to the Daily News archives. He also worked in a Springfield, Ore., mill, before moving up to management positions.

He said working in the business taught him the business.

“I don’t believe there is any substitute for having been there and done that,” he said in a 2000 Daily News article.

The last member of the founding family to lead the company, Weyerhaeuser was named CEO in 1966 when he was 39.

Throughout his tenure, the company developed new products and expanded overseas before shrinking back to focus on its North American operations, according to Daily News archives.

In 1979, the company launched NORPAC, a joint operation with Nippon Paper in Japan, based in Longview. The company sold the mill in 2016 to One Rock Capital Partners, a private equity firm headquartered in New York.

In 1991, John Creighton took over as CEO. Weyerhaeuser served as board chair until 1999.

When Weyerhaeuser retired in 2000, a handful of local retirees remembered him best for his time working shoulder-to-shoulder with them.

Stockfish said Weyerhaeuser’s death will be felt by many.

“He left a tremendous legacy and will be greatly missed by everyone in the greater Weyerhaeuser family and community,” he said.

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