JOHN EDSON (1932 - 2020)

  • "Orin was one of the greatest friends a man could have. I..."
    - Thomas Lynott
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EDSON John Orin Edson Passed away peacefully on August 27, 2019, with his wife, Charlene A. Edson, by his side. The second son of Arthur Allen Edson and Alice Eliza Barber, Orin was born in Bellingham, Washington, on May 8, 1932. Orin was a pioneer in the recreational boating industry who managed to parlay his first business - selling used boats out of a parking lot - into Advance Outboard Marine, at one time the dominant boat retailer in the Seattle market. Then, in the early 1960s, Orin purchased the brand name Bayliner from a boat builder in Tacoma for $100. Over the next two decades, Orin built the Bayliner Marine Corp. into the largest and most successful boat-manufacturing company in the world. Orin was never one to boast about his accomplishments. If he was proud of anything, it was in making high-quality boats at an affordable price. He loved to make the joys of boating available and affordable to the average-income family. Orin sold Bayliner to Brunswick Corp. in 1986. He later purchased and revitalized the yacht-building company, Westport Yachts. An enthusiast of anything to do with being on the water or in the air, Orin was an accomplished pilot and adventurer. Orin had a passion for enjoying life. He and Charlene spent many summers traveling the inside passage to Alaska and British Columbia or cruising Europe and the Caribbean. Orin felt strongly about giving back and quietly turned his attention to philanthropy. He and Charlene supported medical research in cancer and dementia-related illnesses, animal welfare, education and mentorship for entrepreneurs, and education for those pursuing jobs in the boat-building industry. Through his J. Orin Edson Foundation and through personal gifts, he gave to the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, Mayo Clinic Arizona and Arizona State University, among many other entities. He founded the Northwest Organization for Animal Help, which is dedicated to stopping the euthanasia of healthy, adoptable homeless dogs and cats. His latest gift was to support ASU's multidisciplinary research on dementia and to enhance education and training for nurses and caregivers in the field. His first wife, Helen Grace Alexander, and his sister, Mary Jane Shdo, preceded Orin in death. He is survived by his wife Charlene; his sons from his first marriage, John Michael Edson, born January 10, 1957, and Mark Alexander Edson, born June 23, 1959; grandsons Alexander Jonathon Edson, born May 12, 1993, and John Michael Edson, born April 18, 2000; his brother Walter Allen Edson; and sister Carol Ann Edson. Private services were held.Private services were held.
Published in The Washington Post on Feb. 12, 2020
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