History of Oregon ASHRAE


1894 – (National event) American Society of Heating and Ventilating Engineers (ASHVE) established

1939 – (Local event) Oregon Chapter of ASHVE established

1952 – (National event) ASHVE becomes American Society of Air Conditioning Engineers (ASHAE)

1955 – (Local event) Oregon Section of the American Society of Refrigeration Engineers (ASRE) established

1959 – (National event) ASHAE and ASRE merged to become American Society of Heating, Refrigeration & Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE)


The Oregon Chapter was formed in 1939 as the 30th chapter chartered in the Society.

Earl Willey, Professor of Mechanical Engineering at Oregon State College (now OSU) in Corvallis, was the father of the Chapter. In 1933, he established a small heating research laboratory funded through research grants. He joined the Society the next year. He encouraged members of the industry to join the first Oregon State Air Conditioning Conference in 1937 and the second in 1939. The enthusiasm which developed brought many new members to the Society and an interest in establishing a local chapter.

On April 27, 1939, Society President James McIntire came to Portland to discuss the procedure for a new chapter. Acting promptly, the first meeting was held on May 8th and a petition to the Society was signed by 37 members. On July, 27th the first officers were elected with Don Kroeker becoming President.

On October 5, 1939, Professor E. O. Eastwood of the University of Washington and a member of the Council of the Society presented the Chapter at a gala affair attended by 38 local members and 50 guests including members of the Puget Sound Chapter, City and State officers and members of many technical and engineering societies.

Following a parallel path, on July 15, 1954, a meeting was held with Al Chadburn, assistant secretary and J. W. Snyder, Sections Committee Chairman of the American Society of Refrigeration Engineers (ASRE), to learn the procedure for establishing a location Section. On October 1, a joint meeting was held with the Seattle Section. Chester Bell was elected as Provisional Chairman, and an application to form Oregon Section was implemented. The Charter was presented on March 10, 1955, to Chairman-elect Chet Bell by Leon Buehler, President of ASRE.

The American Society of Heating and Ventilating Engineers (ASHVE) was established in 1894 and became the American Society of Air Conditioning Engineers (ASHAE) in 1952. The present Society born of the merger of ASHAE and ASRE came into being in 1959.

Notable Events:

The first female connected with the Chapter was Helen Lankow, who became a student member of the OSU Student branch. In 1985-86 Elizabeth Parke served as the first female president of the Chapter.

1990-1991 marked the development of the Willamette Valley Section of the Oregon Chapter. The Section has been instrumental in increasing participation in ASHRARE for those members outside the greater Portland Metropolitan area.

In 2002, the Farnes family helped the Chapter reach a first with three generations serving as Chapter presidents; 1942 Bert, 1968 Dick and 2002 Steve.

The chapter has had numerous special activities including the following:

  1. The “Tradition of the Gavel” was established, which involved the award of a special gavel from the most recent chartered Chapter to the incoming chartered Chapter.
  2. The first Chapter to engage cooperatively with the Society in the conduct of research project (OSU).
  3. In 1942 the wartime fuel conservation plan developed by the Chapter was accepted by the Department of Interior for national distributing and enactment.
  4. Members worked on the first two Air Conditioning Conferences and the Chapter sponsored the last six.
  5. October of 1946 the first OREGON DIFFUSER with Don Kroeker as Editor was published becoming the second Chapter newsletter in the Society.
  6. In 1952 the Chapter sent a myrtle wood gavel to an international associate chapter in Switzerland. In appreciation the Swiss sent the Oregon Chapter a “BELL” to “grace the speaker’s table.” The bell has become a tradition and has opened Chapter meetings ever since.
  7. The Chapter hosted Society annual meetings in 1952, 1965 and 1986.
  8. The Chapter hosted the Society’s first regional meeting in 1956.
  9. The Chapter hosted Region X CRC meeting in 1972 and joint Region X & XI meeting in 1984.

Do you find yourself reminiscing about the past?

If you are a long-time member of Oregon’s built industry, the Chapter Historian is scheduling interviews to capture your unique perspective and reflect on how the industry has developed over time. Please contact us, if you are interested in sharing your stories. We’d love to hear from you!