Our beloved friend Bill Warner, after enduring health issues for some time, passed away on November 17, 2023. Bill was 87 years old. He was born on March 18, 1936. The Celebration of Life for Bill is now on Friday January 26, 2024 at 1:30 PM on the Headlee Mainstage.

Bill was a Lakewood board member for 29 years. He began his board service in January 1994. He, with his wife Barbara, were very, very, generous people who loved the arts and Lakewood.

Bill Warner was a community volunteer and philanthropist extraordinaire. In addition to his support of the Lakewood Center, Warner was active in numerous other community organizations ranging from his church to the Lake Oswego Chamber of Commerce, Oswego Heritage House, Village Basket Program, Lake Oswego Rotary, Lake Oswego School District, Laker Club, and numerous Lake Oswego youth sports. Outside of Lake Oswego, Warner was a Royal Rosarian.

Because of his exceptional volunteerism and financial support in the community, he was named the 2003 Community Leader of the Year by the Lake Oswego Chamber of Commerce. In 2009 both he and his wife, Barbara, were honored with the Bob Bigelow Lifetime Achievement Award.

Lakewood Executive Director Andrew Edwards commented, “Bill was an active supporter of the arts for decades. He and his wife Barbara have not only a deep appreciation of the arts but a deep-seated love for the creative process and for those who bring it alive. It’s no secret that Bill was a triple threat for any organization or cause he supported. By that, I mean he brought three admirable qualities to the table when he became your advocate. He was: generous with his time – generous with his talent – and generous with his gifts. Some people, for whatever reason, can only give one or two of the three. Bill gave you all three. We will miss his spirit, his optimism, and his can-do approach to life.”



Obituary published in Lake Oswego Review – January 10, 2024

March 18, 1936 – November 17, 2023 – With a heavy heart, we announce the peaceful passing of Bill Warner on Nov 17, 2023, after a battle with lung cancer. He was a beloved husband, father, grandfather, great-grandfather, friend and community member. His legacy of charity, community service, hard work, and sense of humor will live on in the memories of his friends and family.

Bill was born March 18, 1936 to Dick and Olive Warner in the small farming town of Woodbine, Iowa. As a high schooler, Bill loved sports. He played baseball (with hall of famer Bob Gibson), track (setting records in the long jump), and basketball (where his team made the Iowa state high school playoffs and he earned first team all conference). After graduation, he headed to Iowa State University to major in Forestry. It was at a fraternity-sorority event at Iowa State that Bill met the love of his life, Barbara J. Gerling. They married in 1957 in Charles City, Iowa, shortly after graduation.

As part of the ROTC program at Iowa State, Bill earned a commission as an Army Second Lieutenant. In the spring of 1958, Bill and Barbara went to Fort Bliss Texas for his officer’s training, followed by 6 months of active duty at Fort Leonard Wood in Missouri. Bill served his country as a reservist in the Army National Guard for many years as well.

Bill started his career as a salesperson with Timber Structures. This job took the family all over the country. They lived in Chicago, Portland, Seattle, New Jersey, and the Bay Area all in the span of 5 years. During this time, they welcomed two sons, Rick and Jeff, 3 years apart to the day. Although they made life-long friends at each stop in their journey and got the chance to experience a lot of different parts of the country, Bill and Barbara knew that the Pacific Northwest was where they ultimately wanted to put down roots. So, when the option to move back to the Portland area arose, they jumped at the opportunity. They were ready to set down roots, and they found the community they were looking for in Lake Oswego.

Although Bill had a successful career as part of Timber Structures, he is better known for his ownership of Sturdi-built Greenhouse Mfg. Co. Bill saw potential in the business despite piles of junk in the yard, a dilapidated building, and a very messy shop. With Barbara at his side, he retooled the business and focused his energy on building high quality, functional, and beautiful redwood greenhouses for a national market. Under his ownership, the business thrived.

Owning Sturdi-Built also allowed Bill and Barbara to travel the country, visiting customers and seeing the nation. They preferred to travel under their own power, whether by car (trusted Honda), motor home (classic GMC coach) or airplane (Comanche 7669P). This allowed them to find far-flung towns and off-the-beaten track landmarks. They recorded their adventures annually in a highly anticipated Christmas newsletter reviewing the best restaurants of all their travels.

Bill was a very active member of the Lake Oswego community during the 55 years he lived there. During the early years in Lake Oswego, Bill coached the kids’ basketball, baseball and football teams, revisiting his love for sports. He went on to chair the LO High School Parents group, was president of the Lake Oswego Rotary club, served numerous times on the Lakewood Center for the Arts board and helped found the Oswego Heritage Council. Bill also served as a member of Portland’s Royal Rosarians, the Lake Oswego United Methodist Church and on the board of the Oswego Pioneer Cemetery. He was described as a “triple threat” volunteer, someone who was willing to give his time, talents and gifts to any initiative he was involved in. No job was too big or too small for Bill. He would gladly spend his morning wiping down all the chairs for the Rotary lobster feed while also willing to be the main donor for the construction of “Warner Hall” at the Lakewood Center for the Arts. He served with both his money and his time, helping to build projects as often as he funded them.

Since 2016, Bill has been part of the Mary’s Woods Retirement Community in Lake Oswego, serving for several years on the resident board. His proudest contribution was founding the Mary’s Woods “Man Cave” as a creative space exclusively for male residents. One of Bill’s most beloved “Man Cave” traditions was an irreverent Christmas tree, decorated annually with tools, beer cans, tape measures and other “manly” items. The “Man Cave” provided Bill with much needed community through the COVID pandemic and the friends he made were an invaluable addition to his life.

In 2020, Bill was diagnosed with lung cancer. Beating expectations, he lived just shy of 3 additional years. Despite the diagnosis, he remained energetic and enthusiastic. He continued to walk multiple miles per day, drive around the town visiting all of the organizations and businesses he was part of, making sure to put in a solid day of work (even though he was technically retired). His “get it done” attitude stayed with him to his last day. With his final words, he urged his family to continue his legacy: “do what you can for your community; that’s all anyone can be expected to do.” Bill is survived by his wife of 66 years, Barbara; a brother; sons; daughter-in-law; granddaughters; and a great-grandson.

A Celebration of life for Bill will be held at 1:30 Friday January 19, 2024 at Lakewood Center for the Arts in Lake Oswego, www.lakewood-center.org.