UO mourns passing of Chet Paulson, a fan of football and folios

Chet Paulson

Chester “Chet” Paulson — alumnus, donor, and loyal fan of UO Libraries as well as the Ducks — died August 27, 2017 at the age of 81.

Born in Portland, the 1958 economics graduate went on to earn an MBA from the University of Portland, serve in the U.S. Army and start Paulson Investment Co. LLC., which became one of the largest independent broker dealers in the Northwest. The firm was widely recognized for underwriting small-cap public offerings.

“We will miss Chet’s generosity, kindness and loyalty,” said Adriene Lim, dean of libraries and Philip H. Knight Chair. “He was devoted to the libraries as much as he was to Oregon football, and the impact of the generous gifts from Chet and Jacqueline is evident throughout our libraries. Chet appreciated the importance of preserving history, for students and faculty members of course, but also because he felt it was important to the entire state.”

The Knight Library’s Paulson Reading Room stands as a lasting legacy to the generosity of Chet and Jacqueline Paulson, as well as Paulson Investment Company. Their gifts have supported library expansion, special collections, technology and other areas over the years.

These contributions include a three-volume book entitled “A Voyage of Discovery to the North Pacific Ocean, and round the World,” published in 1798, by Captain George Vancouver, a British Royal Navy officer who led an expedition of the region. The gift marked the 2 millionth archive housed in the university’s Special Collections and University Archives.

Paulson, a Northwest history buff, maintained an unflagging interest in the libraries and the UO over the years.

“Chet always had time for the university,” recalled Deb Carver, retired Philip H. Knight Dean of Libraries. “We’d stop by his Portland office and he would fling open his doors and welcome us in. Even though he was busy with his business, he wanted to know what was up with the Ducks and the libraries. He’d have to pause to check the stock tickers on his computer, but he always wanted to hear the latest news from campus. Once he made that first gift — and made that connection with special collections and the people working here — the libraries became his passion.”

Until recent years, Paulson faithfully attended Duck football games and was a welcomed guest in the president’s suite at Autzen Stadium, where he could be found sitting in the front row and cheering exuberantly. His children, Erick Paulson and Kellie Davis, have both served on the library’s Advancement Council.

A celebration of life was held on Sept. 7 at Portland’s Benson Hotel. Keri Aronson, director of development for UO Libraries, spoke at the event and UO alumnus Johnny Reitz played the university fight song.

A full obituary is available in The Oregonian.

By Ed Dorsch, University Communications