Harris E. & Jean F. Rosendahl Fund

Jean and Harris Rosendahl on their wedding day in July 1947.

Harris E. Rosendahl was born in Warren, Minnesota, on November 18, 1924. His parents, Elmer C. and Olive Lucille Willey Rosendahl, farmed the 320 acres the Rosendahl parents had homesteaded after emigrating from Sweden. The farm, “Shady Lane,” was located in the fertile Red River Valley on the Snake River, with the Warren City limits running through the middle of the farmhouse. The Snake River afforded great summer and winter activities for Harris and his sister but generally flooded the fields every three to five years. Harris was quite enterprising as a child. He helped deliver milk (the farm had thirty milk cows) to the town people, sold subscriptions, and delivered a magazine called the Digest. When he was old enough for 4-H, he cared for one acre of potatoes. He harvested and sold them for $25. Harris was constantly on the go, frequently enticing his little sister into mischievous activities that usually ended by a punishment. He and a friend would “borrow” his father’s tools and build forts, carts, and so on. One of Harris’s favorite pals was Kerr—an imaginary friend. Harris was a good student, but by his own admission he was not always the best behaved.

His father not only farmed, he also worked as a local agent for State Farm Insurance and as a sales representative for Hood Tire Co. He was an excellent farmer, but due to health, he accepted a position with State Farm Insurance Company as District Manager for nine counties in Northwest Iowa. This was a difficult move for the family. The Rosendahls were a close-knit family. Many of their relatives lived in the area, and the families always shared holidays. It was hard for them to leave behind all of their friends, family, and pets. The family moved to Le Mars, Iowa, on June 1, 1936. Harris adapted well to the life in Le Mars and easily adjusted to a much larger school. He made friends easily and involved himself in many school activities, including the debate, drama, and swim teams. He was the editor of the school newspaper and yearbook, and he worked part-time at the local soda fountain. A member of the National Honor Society, Harris was made an honorary Rotarian of Rotary International in 1941.

Following high school graduation, Harris accepted an appointment to the United States Maritime Academy, Kings Point, New York. Besides his heavy class schedule and his position as a squad leader, he was again the editor of his school’s newspaper and yearbook. Practical experience time was shortened his final year at the academy in order to graduate the Cadets early. Ships and men were needed in Europe to fight World War II. Harris, now an ensign, signed on a Liberty ship, retrofitted for troops and heavy equipment, and headed for Europe. His ship was deployed to England and the French side of the peninsula, where it made repeated trips with troops and equipment until D-Day.

Following the war, he was employed by the States Steamship Company of Vancouver until 1948. He made his way through the ranks—Jr. 3rd mate, 3rd mate, 2nd mate—and, in April, 1947, at the age of twenty-two, he received his chief mate license (second in command). In July 1947, the ship was in Portland for two weeks for repairs, so he invited a longtime friend, Jean Faul, to fly out for a visit. She accepted and flew to visit him and relatives living in Corvallis. Jean had just completed nursing and a post-pediatrics course. The trip west ended in their marriage on July 13, 1947, at First Methodist Church in Corvallis. Neither Harris nor Jean had been in Corvallis before. Their honeymoon was a trip to the coast—the first time Jean had ever seen an ocean.

In July 1948, Harris decided that “going to sea” was not what he wanted to do for the rest of his life. There was an opening at the Portland office of the U.S. Navy Hydrographic Office for a nautical scientist. He applied and was hired as manager of the office. He planned to continue his education part-time at Portland State University. Approximately one year later, the government decided to close the Portland office. A family friend of Jean’s parents referred Harris to a U.S. Bank management officer at the main branch, in Portland. The officer happened to be ex-maritime, and he was so impressed that Harris held a chief mate’s license at his age that he hired Harris immediately. Harris embarked on his new career on November 17, 1949, as a trainee at Citizen’s Branch (U.S. National) in Southeast Portland. He became a father for the first time on November 18, 1949. Harris was employed by U.S. National Bank from 1949 until 1980, working his way through the ranks. His tenure included operations, loan management, twelve years as a bank manager at three larger branches, and nine years as vice president of commercial loans, including three years as vice president and group manager and senior commercial loan officer.

During this period of time, the Rosendahls had four children: Thomas, born November 18, 1949; Steven and Stuart (twins), born June 29, 1952; and Carolyn, born November 29, 1954. Harris also completed training at the Pacific Coast Banking School at the University of Washington.

Harris was active in many civic and business organizations, serving as director, advisor, or officer. Highlights include: Optimist Club, Willamette View Manor and Convalescent Center, Beaverton Jaycees (elected Junior First Citizen), Robert Morris Association (local and national), United Way, Lions Club, the Methodist Church, Pleasant Valley Golf Club, and many youth activities. Harris enjoyed boating and water skiing and was interested in woodworking. 

He spent part of his spare time with a small medical specialty company as president and financial advisor. The company manufactured and marketed specialty products, primarily for pediatric use, related to Jean’s work as the department head of respiratory therapy at the University Hospital. The main product was designed and patented by Jean.

Harris retired from U.S. National Bank on October 17, 1980. His retirement didn’t last long before he accepted a new challenge. On October 17, 1980, he started work as president, chief executive officer and board member of Citizen’s Bank of Corvallis.

He continued his participation in numerous professional and civic organizations and clubs, serving on several boards as an advisor or officer: Rotary, Grace Center for Adult Day Care, Samaritan Village, Old Mill Center, Benton Community Foundation, United Way, RSVP, Heart Association, 1990 American Legion World Series, Corvallis Country Club, Oregon Banker’s Association, and the Independent Bank Association. Harris retired from Citizen’s Bank in 1988, and was appointed director emeritus. During his retirement he consulted for independent banks and reviewed loan portfolios. He continued his active life with golf and spectator sports. He also spent a considerable amount of time with his computer, researching genealogy and writing family history, but his favorite time was with his grandchildren and attending their various activities. 

Harris died suddenly on September 11, 1993. Harris was always a positive person with a great sense of humor and a love of people. A final honor was given to Harris after his death when he was inducted into the Oregon Banker’s Association Hall of Fame in recognition of outstanding contributions to Oregon Banking.

Following his death, Jean and her children established this fund in memory of Harris. The fund benefits the Old Mill Center for Children and Families.