Alan Director died unexpectedly but peacefully March 19, 2019, at the age of 86. Numerous family members – children and grandchildren – were at his side. He was born in Portland July 13, 1932, and lived in Portland all his life, except for four years at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, where he graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Business in 1954, and in New York in 1955 when he received a Masters in Business at New York University. Prior to college, he graduated in 1953 from Washington High School.
Immediately after graduation and leaving New York, he settled in Portland with his loving wife Marcia and assumed his role with the family-owned home furnishings company, Director’s Furniture. Ultimately, he became president/CEO of the iconic business that was started in Portland by Alan’s grandfather Samuel Director in 1911. Sam passed the reigns on to his oldest son Frank, and in 1959 Frank passed the responsibilities on to his oldest son Alan. Alan continued the hard work and dedication set by his forerunners and built Director’s into one of the largest home furnishings stores between Seattle and Eugene during his long and distinguished career. At one point Director’s had two branch stores in the suburbs. The large downtown building is now the Director Building and has been converted into an office and retail space. Alan was the guiding force behind expansion and remodeling to include “in-store” design galleries featuring model rooms completely furnished similar to stores like Bloomingdale’s in NYC and Carson, Pirie, Scott in Chicago. He spearheaded a major buying/advertising co-operative by getting the major independent home furnishings store in each major marketing area around the country to join forces and meet twice a year in North Carolina, at that time the heart of the home furnishings industry, to exchange ideas, advertising, merchandising, display and other concepts that enhanced the status and reputation of the industry. He organized the Oregon Retail Furniture Association in order to promote the value of fine home furnishings and to encourage the public to be more aware of their homes. He also pushed for more honest advertising and integrity in the industry. He enlisted Governor McCall and his dear friend Governor Vic Atiyeh to encourage Oregonians to be more aware and more proud of their homes.
As downtown receded from being the main area for the selling of home furnishings, Alan and his family led the way to the suburbs, building a state of the art store in Tualatin. He retired at age 67 after working almost seven days a week for over 40 years. His oldest son Scott and his wife, Carol Helmer Director, now operate their own concept store in Beaverton; and he and his daughter Tracy joined forces in the mattress business. Tracy is now in the manufacturing business in Newberg, turning out fine mattresses and box springs. She got into that business when Alan retired again from the 4-store retail mattress businesses they operated together from 1996 until 2008.
Along the way, Alan became interested in politics with his now deceased friend Blake Hering, working tirelessly to elect Frank Ivancie as Mayor. He also worked with Vic Atiyeh in his campaign to become Governor as a conservative working with a Democrat controlled legislature to get things done with a spirit of bipartisan cooperation in the State. Alan was appointed as the lead delegate from Oregon to the first Small Business Conference called by then president Jimmy Carter in 1978, invited to Washington to represent Oregon and to attend many high level meetings. The Directors were invited by Governor Atiyeh to the 1980 inauguration of Ronald Reagan, and he admitted it was one of the highlights of his life. Alan served Governor McCall and Mayor Ivancie as chairman of United Nations Week in Portland and was the emcee at a banquet featuring numerous international dignitaries. Alan also proudly served his community in many roles. He was on the advisory board of The Junior League of Portland as their community business advisor since he was a major downtown retailer across the street from the Junior League’s Thrift Shop, an important fundraising tool at the time for the JLP. He also served with distinction as a member of the Portland Junior Symphony, now the Oregon Youth Philharmonic, and served as vice president. He was chairman of their very successful 50th Anniversary Gala fundraiser at Portland’s Union Station. In cooperation with Meier and Frank he borrowed one of their original delivery and hauling vehicles to use as a prop for the theme of the party, “Roaring Twenties,” to celebrate the founding of the Junior Symphony 50 years earlier. He was elected to the Board of Trustees of The Portland Art Museum after serving as president of the Art Museum Activities Council. He chaired a number of gala fundraisers of that era and headed a successful membership drive. He served on the board of the Portland Japanese Garden and headed a very successful membership drive. In addition, Alan was general chairman of the 1981 OMSI auction. With the help of many friends and family, as well as Dolores Atiyeh, wife of the Governor, the auction was the largest net profit for OMSI in a 20-year period.
He loved tennis and served on the Tennis Committee of the Multnomah Athletic Club and was tennis chairman during their huge remodeling project. There was great debate in the highest circles of MAC leadership as to whether or not any tennis facilities would be built—tennis courts take a lot of valuable space. So, the debate raged and Alan took the bull by the horns. Every day for weeks he stood at the main entrance of the club and got signatures from 100’s of members who strongly desired tennis courts. Alan’s efforts prevailed and the Board was convinced that the four courts on top of the main club area would be built. Other boards include the National Home Furnishings Association and the Oregon Retail Furniture Association, attempting to enhance the image of the home furnishings industry.
His happiest days were at Penn, and it was there that he met the love of his life, Marcia Joseph, while she was attending Bryn Mawr College west of Philadelphia. They were married in 1953 while still attending college, then moved to Portland to raise their family. He was predeceased by his parents, Frank and Estelle Director; and brother, Sanford. Surviving him, in addition to his devoted wife of 65 years; are his five children, Scott (Carol), Richard (Kelly), Tracy (fiancé Mike), Kevin (Geni), Dana (Aaron); grandchildren: Scott’s, Ashley (Chris), Jordan, Isabelle, Samuel (significant other Emily); Richard’s children, Jack (significant other Jesse), Joseph and Charlotte; Kevin’s, Spencer (Danielle) Collin (significant other Angela) and Grant; great-granddaughter, Olivia; and many friends who loved his sense of humor.
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