George Weyerhaeuser Sr., former Weyerhaeuser Company CEO and president and great-grandson of the company’s founder Frederick Weyerhaeuser, died June 11 at the age of 95.
“In the last 100 years no one has had more influence on the shaping of South King County than George Weyerhaeuser,” said Peter von Reichbauer, a King County councilman who represents Federal Way.
In a June 14 news release by the Weyerhaeuser Company — one of America’s largest forestry firms founded by Weyerhaeuser’s great-grandfather — the company addressed Weyerhaeuser’s passing. The company said he oversaw a great amount of growth of the company which included several major timberland acquisitions.
In 1971, George Weyerhaeuser moved the company’s headquarters to Federal Way, a city which was shaped by his vision. The 425-acre campus in Federal Way blends nature with corporate offices, creating a one-of-a-kind location both inside and outside of the building. It was designed by architect Charles Bassett of Skidmore, Owings & Merrill; landscape architect Peter Walker; and George Weyerhaeuser.
In Federal Way, the Weyerhaeuser King County Aquatic Center has been the site for dozens of championship swim and dive meets, Olympic Trials and other important events.
“When we wanted to build a world class aquatic center in the Puget Sound region in 1990, George helped us site it in then-unincorporated Federal Way,” said von Reichbauer. He went on to say the Weyerhaeuser Company cut down the construction cost so the facility could be constructed within the limited budget available.
“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. Stockfish went on to say that over his years of leadership in the company, he brought about transformational changes to the company.
These changes included advances in sustainable, high-yield forestry and wood products research, expansion into overseas markets, and many other achievements.
“He left a tremendous legacy and will be greatly missed by everyone in the greater Weyerhaeuser family and community,” said Stockfish.
In 1935, 8-year-old Weyerhaeuser was kidnapped in Tacoma while walking home from school and held for $200,000 ransom. Kidnappers held him for eight days and sent his father on several missions via hidden notes to accomplish tasks. George Weyerhaeuser was released along a road in Issaquah, found his way to a nearby farmhouse, and was then taken back to his family’s home in Tacoma.
His kidnappers were eventually caught and found guilty. William Dainard, then 33, was sentenced to 60 years in prison; Harmon Metz Waley, then 23, was sentenced to 45 years in prison; and Margaret Eldora Thulin, then 19, was sentenced to 20 years.
After serving 28 years of his sentence, Harmon was hired by Weyerhaeuser at one of the company’s plants in Oregon.
George Weyerhaeuser went on to graduate from Yale University, and held various roles at the company until he was named CEO and president in 1966 until 1991. He also served as Board chairman through 1999.
The Weyerhaeuser family is planning a memorial service which will take place later this summer.