George Weyerhaeuser Jr., scion of the family that founded the Federal Way-based timber products company that bears his name and a Tacoma civic and business leader in his own right, has died.
Weyerhaeuser suffered a heart attack Sunday evening on his boat on Commencement Bay. He was 59.
Family members said they are planning a private service as well as a public memorial. Arrangements are still pending.
Weyerhaeuser was currently serving as president of the Thea Foss Waterway Development Authority, a board on which he had served for many years.
“We have lost a dedicated leader,” said Don Meyer, president of the Port of Tacoma commission. Meyer served with Weyerhaeuser for a decade when Meyer was executive director of the Foss Waterway Development Authority and Weyerhaeuser was an authority board member.
Meyer said Weyerhaeuser was a man who combined a passion for civic betterment with a keen business knowledge.
“I think we have all benefited from his understanding and commitment,” said Meyer.
He was a key board member and backer of the Museum of Glass.
Susan Warner, the museum’s executive director, said Weyerhaeuser was one of the founding members of the museum having worked on the museum’s board since 1999. He served as the museum board chairman from 2004 through 2008.
“His contributions to the museum were just immeasurable,” said Warner. “I’m the third director the museum has had. He was a coach, a cheerleader and mentor to all of us.”
“He always had a kind, supportive word and very good advice. He was always there for the museum,” she said.
Former Tacoma Mayor Bill Baarsma said Weyerhaeser was a civic force. ” Much of the success on the waterway and the Museum of Glass, for that matter, was the result of his singular efforts,” he wrote.
Jim Keller, a former Weyerhaeuser Co. senior executive and a close personnel friend of Weyerhaeuser, said his friend was a people person.
He wasn’t the person who called attention to himself, but rather he was one who always cared about the company’s employees and customers, said Keller.
Weyerhaeuser was a person deeply fascinated by science and the arts, he said.
“He was a great forward thinker,” said Keller. “And he was an incredible multi-tasker. He could discuss four different subjects and then meld them into a coherent conclusion,” he said.
Though Weyerhaeuser carried a powerful name, he didn’t abuse it, said Keller. “He never tried to be the center of attention. He never searched for the spotlight.”
While Weyerhaeuser worked his way upward to one of the timber company’s most senior positions, he was never overtly ambitious, said his friend.
“He was more interested in what was best for the company, not for George Weyerhaeuser. He wore his name well. It brought great responsibility, and he carried it out,” said Keller.
In a 30-year career at Weyerhaeuser Co., Weyerhaeuser served in several executive positions including vice president for containerboard, vice president of manufacturing for the company’s pulp and paper business. He was president and chief executive officer of Weyerhaeuser Canada from June 1993 to May 1998. He became the company’s senior vice president of technology, procurement and transportation in 1998.
Weyerhaeuser joined the timber products company in Dierks, Ark. in 1978 where he served in various capacities including forester and contract logger administrator before becoming sawmill supervisor in 1980.
He represented the company and the timber industry on many boards. He had served as chairman of the Pulp and Paper Research Institute of Canada and chairman of the the Canadian National Advisory Board on Forestry Research. During his time heading the company’s Canadian operations he was chairman of the Forest Alliance of British Columbia.
In 2006, Weyerhaeuser was appointed to the World Business Council for Sustainable Development as a senior fellow. The World Business Council for Sustainable Development is based in Geneva, Switzerland.
He served in that position for three years. He retired from Weyerhaeuser Co. in 2008.
The business and civic leader received his bachelor’s degree in philosophy and mathematics from Yale University in 1976 and a master of science degree from the Sloan School of Management at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1986.
Weyerhaeuser’s great-great grandfather was Frederick Weyerhaeuser, one of the Weyerhaeuser Co.’s founders. His father, grandfather and great-grandfather all had once served as the company’s chief executive.
Weyerhaeuser is survived by his wife, Kathy McGoldrick, and by sons Walker and Corydon, and by his father, George Weyerhaeuser and his mother Wendy. Also is survived by four sisters and a brother. He lived in Lakewood.
The family is requesting that in lieu of flowers donations be sent to Tacoma’s Museum of Glass of which Weyerhaeuser was a founding board member, or to Charles Wright Academy from which he and his sons graduated.