Chambers, Frank

From Lane Co Oregon

One of the most successful and respected businessmen in Eugene history opened his first business venture on April Fool’s Day. It was 1887, and Frank Chambers (1865-1946) was twenty-one years old, the “son” of Chambers & Son hardware. He was a young man in a young town — and both had a future.

In 1890, Frank Chambers bought out his father’s interest in the store. In 1901, he was joined by his brother. By 1906, he was president of the incorporated Chambers Hardware Company. He was also heavily involved in the development of Eugene. From the 1890s until his death, he contributed to nearly every type of civic improvement in the area. Roads, mining, milling, banks, real estate, charities, churches, parks, schools, libraries, museums — all were influenced by Frank Chambers. He was variously secretary of the water board, manager of the telephone company, director of the First National Bank of Eugene, and president of the Chamber of Commerce. He was also president of the Eugene Theater Company, and vice president of the Alumni Holding Company — the gift campaign founded in the 1920s by UO President Prince Lucien Campbell. Chambers’ connections to Eugene were personal as well as civic. In 1891, he married Ida Hendricks, daughter of Thomas G. Hendricks. She died in 1900, leaving Chambers with their daughter, Mary. The widower remarried in 1904 to Edith Kerns, sister of Maude Kerns.

The 1927 volume, History of the Willamette Valley, Oregon, said Chambers “has long enjoyed wellmerited popularity throughout this section of the state and is rightfully regarded as one of its representative men of affairs.” He also enjoyed a good laugh, according to this anonymous limerick from about the 1890s:

In name and in speech he is Frank,

But most happy when playing a prank.

With no water in hell,

He’ll find you a well

When the stick gives the witch a slight yank.

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