Bernard M. Guthrie Endowment Fund

Bernie GuthrieBernard Morse Guthrie was born October 8, 1903, he lived with his family on Salt Creek in the McMinnville area. His father, Joel Kirney Guthrie, ran a prune orchard before moving the family to Amity and opening a butcher shop. Bernard’s mother was Litha Jane Wilson Guthrie, born in Eldorado, Illinois. Bernard started grade school in McMinnville, then the family moved to Corvallis so his two elder sisters and brother Leroy could attend Oregon Agricultural College. Bernard graduated from Corvallis High School in 1921. After working in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, for a year, Bernard returned to school in Corvallis. As a student at OAC, he majored in mechanical engineering, but his interest in electrical engineering and business administration led him to take so many courses in these areas that he nearly qualified for three different degrees. He graduated in 1926, eager to pursue his interests in sales, business, and engineering.

That same year, Bernard married Loene Pooler, a graduate of the OAC School of Music. Bernard’s first job took the couple across the country to Boston, where he worked for the General Electric Company. In May of 1928, the couple returned to Oregon because Bernard’s father was sick and there was no one else in the family available to care for him. Bernard went to work for the Burroughs Adding Machine Corporation as a salesman, and he and Loene often worked extra jobs doing bookkeeping. The summer of 1929 took them to Astoria, from which Bernard rafted alder logs to the B.P. John Furniture Company in Portland. In 1930 he went to work for the Iron Fireman Company, a heating firm.

In 1933, Bernard was lured to Chicago to start the coalstoker division of Fairbanks Morris Company. He was the division’s chief engineer for seven years before moving on to salvage the troubled stoker section of Kingston Products, a Kokomo, Indiana, company that offered to double his salary if he’d lend his expertise to solving their problems. When World War II involved the United States, Bernard became a procurement officer for Kingston in Washington, D.C.

After the war ended, the Guthries founded a subsidiary of Kingston Products that made parts for Chrysler Motor Co. Bernard designed and built five factories for them. In April of 1953, the couple returned to Corvallis, where he and partner Ralph Chapman started their own firm, Bermico Products. Using patents secured from Ralph Chapman, they manufactured soil pipes made from tar pitch and waste paper. They sold this business to Brown Paper Company in 1956, but Bernard continued to work with the project and built similar factories, fourteen in Canada, where he served on the Board of Control in New Jersey, in Alabama, and in Johannesburg, South Africa.

In 1962, the couple started the Perma Glass factory in Lewisburg with another engineer, John Blaine. Loene ran the new plant as superintendent for the first five years until Bernard left Bermico Products. During that time, Bernard worked on a project using activated charcoal to purify farm soil.

Evans Products purchased the company in 1973. At that point, Bernard set up his own private research business and continued the Guthries’ activities in building, buying, and remodeling apartments and rentals. He spent the last seven years of his life developing a fireproof roofing product with chemist Robert Torley, which was eventually patented. He also developed alkaline resistant glass to substitute for asbestos, which was also patented.

Despite his many business ventures, Bernard was an active servant of his community throughout his professional career. A member of the Federated Church, a union of Presbyterian and Congregational denominations, he served on the board of each of the churches. He was instrumental in the construction of the Congregational Church on West Hills Road.

A member and Paul Harris Fellow of the Corvallis Rotary Club, Bernard served on a variety of service boards from 1973 until his death. He was active in city management and lent his considerable financial expertise to the city and community service organizations. Bernard had been a member of the Masonic order while in Kokomo. In Corvallis he joined the Elks Club and the Country Club.

Bernard Guthrie served on the BCF board for nearly three years before his death in May 1983. Bernard was the inspiration for the Youth Career Exploration Program. The Bernard M. Guthrie Endowment Fund benefits the youth of Benton County through the Youth Career Exploration Project.