tj sullivan, gerry frank, laura dorn and tom hoffert

On Sunday morning, March 13, the Salem community sadly lost the iconic Oregon business leader and statesman, Gerry Frank. Mr. Frank was a committed philanthropist and former Salem Area Chamber of Commerce President (1965-1967). Gerry Frank passed away at the age of 98, working on Oregon politics and key initiatives until nearly the day of his passing. Beloved by Salem residents and by all whose lives he touched worldwide, Gerry leaves an indelible mark on our community and a legacy that will continue to live on for generations to come.

Read more about Gerry’s life and the impact he had on Salem in the Statesman Journal.

Here is how some of our past Chamber board presidents remember Gerry:

“Gerry was kind and generous enough to invite my two sons to his office for lunch and always asked how they were doing. Yet he was a tough straight shooter who would call and tell me if my employees didn’t give good service.” – Brent DeHart (2015-2016)

“Gerry taught me that my responsibilities, as a citizen and as a leader, required sustained action and effort. If communities thrive, they thrive because leaders use their time and talents for making our community better for the next generation.” – Jim Bauer (2016-2017)

“Thank you for your love and contribution to Oregon and our Salem community. Rest in peace, Gerry.” – Terri Frohnmayer (2008-2009)

“Impossible shoes to fill, for sure. I was fortunate to have known Gerry since my days growing up in the Candalaria neighborhood. He and my father were back-to-back Presidents of the Salem Chamber of Commerce. Barney ultimately became my “second Dad” after mine passed away many years ago. As an adult, I was lucky to have these two to constantly bounce ideas off of or to help me in times of need. My community questions went to Gerry. My business and spiritual ones to Barney.” – Curt Arthur (2017-2018)

“Gerry was at my wedding, Gerry was at our graduation and birthday parties, Gerry was part of our family. He had such heart and love for young business leaders! And, I will always smile when I eat E.Z. Orchards’ peach shortcake, his other love next to chocolate cake!” – Theresa Haskins (2007-2008)

“He ALWAYS had a kind, caring, and encouraging word for me. His #1 focus was the well-being of his home, Salem, through his Good Works for Downtown Salem Rotary, the Salem Chamber, and numerous Salem non-profit organizations. He was simply the guiding force behind our key local projects helping those who needed help. He was a gigantic influence in my life and will be missed by many here, across our state and in the halls of our nation’s Capital.” – Bruce Anderson (2019-2020)

“Gerry added a lot to my professional life with his advice and support in joining various corporate boards. I will forever be grateful to Gerry.” – George Puentes (2002-2003)

“Gerry Frank not only supported and encouraged me during my year as Chamber President but invited me to share his time whenever I needed advice or counsel. He was truly a gift from God to all of us and is now with Him.” – Jane Berg (2010-2011)

“I had the honor of meeting Gerry in 1989 for what was to be a friendship that would have a profound impact on my personal and professional life. Gerry is the gold standard for what it means to be a servant leader.” – Ken Jundt (1999-2000)

“Gerry was so important in the life and activities of Sharron and me. He was especially helpful to Sharron during her time as Chamber special events manager. We will really miss him and we honor what he has done for all of us in Salem.” – Richard Seideman (1979-1980)

“Gerry was one of the strongest pillars in our Salem community. He gave from every part of his being, his time, his talents, and his treasure. We will miss seeing him and being with him but will always see the impact of his being.” – Kathy Gordon (2020-2021)

“Gerry was a friend and inspiration always ready to assist. What a remarkable individual.” – Dora Lee Eldred (1990-1991)

“He was a mentor to many and always a gentleman.” – Chuck Austin (1984-1985)

“I had known Gerry since shortly after he came to Salem. He operated a great store and became known for quality and service. His writings and books are well known and I am looking at one now. He will long be remembered!” – Wally Gutzler (1981-1983)

“Fridays were spent with Gerry. We both got our haircuts at The Kings Men around 9:00 am and it was a time for him to talk and me to listen. He would ask questions about the goings-on in Salem and I was always amazed at how much this man had his finger on the pulse of not just Salem, but also the State of Oregon. He cared deeply for the people here and wanted nothing but the best for us.” – TJ Sullivan (2018-2019)

“My daughter Claire and I invited Gerry to speak to her high school AP history class. Gerry captivated the audience of students which swelled from one class to three. He got their attention from the start with gifts for the highest GPA students, slices of Konditorei cake gift cards. He had the students wrapped around his finger for 90 minutes as he told them about his life experiences. He finished by saying that he was excited about their generation being more accepting of all types of people.” – John Zielinski (2009-2010)

“Each year Gerry would make sure I would be helping him at the chocolate cake contest. The year I said I couldn’t come, he sent the State Fair Medics to pick me up with a gurney and haul me in to the contest. Gerry certainly left a wonderful mark on Salem. He also gave me my first job, selling roasted chestnuts from a cart on the Christmas balcony at M & F. I was still in high school.” – Kathy Goss (2004-2005)

“I was three months into a six-month Salem Chamber internship as an undergraduate at Western Oregon State College. Mike McLaran stated that I would be traveling with Mr. Frank for two days in Portland so I could watch a true stateman apply his craft. Gerry mentored me for the next 24 years of my life, as we shared conversations most weeks up until his passing on Sunday morning. I will forever miss this message on my voicemail, ‘Tom, it’s Gerry. Please call me immediately.’ Gerry, you shared so much wisdom and time – rest easy, dear friend.” – Tom Hoffert (Chamber CEO)

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