March 19, 2015 at 10:57 pm #8232
On March 18, 1918 Robert Hamlin “Bob” Hazen was born in Portland to Dana (Wilcox) and Benjamin Hamlin Hazen. The Hazen family lived at: 961 Dunkley Ave. Bob had two older sisters: Elizabeth M. “Betty” & Jeanne M. and one younger sister Frances “Ann.” Bob’s father was a logger with Bridal Veil Lumber Co., where his brother Edward B. Hazen was General Manager & Treasurer. In 1916 Bob’s father moved to Douglas Fir Lumber Co. where he served as Secretary-Treasurer with his brother as V.P. Then he moved into real estate and the insurance business.
On January 27, 1925 Benjamin Hazen founded “The Benj. Franklin Savings & Loan Association” with capitol stock of $1 Million, when it was incorporated with its partners. Mr. Hazen was Manager of the establishment at: 275 Oak St., in the Lewis Building. Frank L. Shull, President; Fred W. German, Vice-President. Directors were: Charles F. Berg, Fred L. Boalt, Arthur H. Devers, S.W. Lawrence, Loren “Monte” Lepper, Otto W. Mielke & Carl B. Wintler, Attorney. On October 20, 1926 Bob’s father was elected Secretary-Treasurer and continued as Manager.
In September 1930 Bob entered the 7th grade at Rose City Park grammar school. In May 1937 he graduated from Grant High School where he had been student body President. In October 1937 Bob became freshman class President at Whitman College in Walla Walla. On February 17, 1941 Bob’s father was elected President of the “Benj. Franklin Federal Savings & Loan Association.
In Spring 1941 Bob graduated from William & Mary College in Williamsburg, Virginia and returned to Portland where he became a staff teller at the “Benj. Franklin Federal Savings & Loan Association” 517 S.W. Stark St.
In January 1942 Hazen joined the U.S. Navy during World War II, beginning as a Third-class Petty Officer, assigned to Port Angeles, Wash. In March 1943 Bob was selected for training in athletics at the Physical Instructor’s School in Bainbridge, Md. In June 1943 Hazen graduated as Chief Specialist and was later assigned to Jacksonville, Memphis, Astoria & Oakland. Most of Bob’s tour of duty was in recruit training. Hazen then returned to Portland after the war.
On April 14, 1946 it was announced the Benj. Franklin had organized a Veterans service department, specializing in home loans. Bob Hazen was in charge of this dept. On May 5, 1947 it was announced Bob Hazen was President of the Portland Chapter of the American Savings & Loan Institute. By January 1948 Bob Hazen was Assistant Treasurer of the Benj. Franklin. On March 10, 1948 Bob was elected President of the Oregon Toastmasters Club.
On May 25, 1949 he began “The Bob Hazen Show” simulcast on KEX AM/FM 7:30 to 7:45am to further promote the Benj. Franklin. Ad: “Portland’s Newest Radio Personality Entertains Every Weekday Morning.” Bob’s theme song was called “The Hot Canary” most likely the Paul Weston version with violin by Paul Nero on Capitol 15373 which had been released in March. On May 8, 1950 Bob Hazen was appointed Deputy Governor of region 11 of the United States Savings & Loan Institute, educational branch of the United States Savings & Loan League. Region 11 included Oregon, Washington, Idaho, Montana, Utah & Wyoming.
On June 4, 1950 Robert Hamlin Hazen, 32, married 33 year old Phyllis Thurston Gardner, a day after her birthday. (engagement announced 5-4-50). On June 19, 1950 the newlyweds began living at: 2073 S.W. Park Ave. On December 16, 1950 it was announced Bob Hazen was now Vice-President of the Benj. Franklin and would become the Manager of the planned Hollywood Branch. On April 2, 1951 “The Bob Hazen Show” on KEX AM/FM moved 15 minutes later to 7:45am.
On April 6, 1951 the new Hollywood branch of the Benj. Franklin opened at: 3967 N.E. Sandy Blvd. Bank offices occupied the eastern portion of the Rankin building, which was elaborately remodeled in a colonial type of architecture, costing approximately $200,000.
On May 12, 1951 “The Bob Hazen Show” expanded on KEX AM/FM to 6 days a week with the addition of Saturdays. Hazen’s squeaky voice, stuck in the public psyche. Some listeners were known to imitate Bob when brought up in conversation. His theme song “The Hot Canary” a shrill piece of music featuring higher violin notes was said to blend so well with Hazen’s voice, listeners couldn’t tell when the music stopped and Bob began. Hazen heard all the jokes. “When I was young, I suppose it bothered me a little, but you get used to it. And we’ve turned it into a tool for the Benj. Franklin. People associate that voice and me, with the business, and that gives us an identity,” On July 20, 1951 Bob & Phyllis welcomed their son Dechard Gardner “Deck” Hazen.
On December 4, 1951 Bob Hazen was elected Secretary-Treasurer of the Oregon Savings & Loan League. On October 30, 1952 Bob & Phyllis welcomed their daughter Sydney Hazen. April 12, 1954 ad: “Join the Benj. Franklin on the air “The Bob Hazen Show” Top Tunes of the day. 7:45am, KEX daily except Sunday.”
On January 30, 1955 Bob was taken to Good Samaritan Hospital early Sunday where he had an emergency operation (appendicitis). By February 3, 1955 KEX had used up all of Bob’s pre-recorded shows. Hazen & KEX hatched a plan to record his 15 minute shows from the hospital. Bob said: “Always wanted to do my show in bed.”
On March 28, 1955 it was announced Bob Hazen was elected 2nd Vice-President of the American Savings & Loan Institute. On May 11, 1955 Bob was elected President of the Hollywood Boosters. On October 16, 1956 Bob Hazen was elected 2nd Vice-President of the Oregon Savings & Loan League. On March 12, 1957 Bob Hazen was elected National President of the American Savings & Loan Institute in Dallas, Texas.
By April 1957 Bob was promoted to Executive Vice-President of the Benj. Franklin. By November 1957 the Hazen family was living on S.W. Lower Drive in Lake Oswego. April 25, 1958 ad: “The Bob Hazen Show has gained a loyal following and a high rating. It has been nationally recognized as one of the outstanding programs of its type.” On October 25, 1958 Bob Hazen was elected President of the Oregon Savings & Loan League. (Bob’s father was 1933 President).
On January 21, 1959 Bob Hazen was elected President, taking over his fathers position at the Benj. Franklin Federal Savings & Loan Association. His father became Chairman of the Executive Committee of the $67 Million association and Chairman of The Board by October 1960.
On March 2, 1959 “The Bob Hazen Show” began a simulcast on KOIN AM/FM at 7:45am as well as on KEX. This must have made KEX unhappy. On April 1, 1959 “The Bob Hazen Show” moved from KEX to KXL at 7:45am. The 15 minute show would continue on KOIN at 7:45am, where the program originated. Ad: “Named by PULSE Survey as Portland’s most popular daytime radio show. Presenting your favorite music, both old and new.”
On April 26, 1959 it was announced Bob Hazen was appointed Chairman of the Veterans Affairs Committee of the United States Savings & Loan League. On October 9, 1959 Bob Hazen was appointed Chairman of the National Economics Commission of the American Legion.
October 12, 1959 ad: “FREE to New Savers, Pat’s Newest Record. Prized by Pat Boone fans of any age. “Fool’s Hall of Fame” is Pat’s newest top ten hit. We have one Free for anyone opening a new account for $10 or more at any office of the Benj. Franklin. Supply is limited, so hurry, start your savings account today! For more details, tune in “The Bob Hazen Show”, KOIN & KXL Every weekday morning at 7:45 a.m.”
On March 4, 1960 it was announced Bob Hazen was elected Chairman of the Multnomah County Committee for Employing The Handicapped. On June 19, 1960 it was announced Bob Hazen was elected Vice-President of the Pacific Northwest Conference of Savings & Loan Associations. On April 3, 1961 “The Bob Hazen Show” added KGON 1520kc at 7:45am, continuing on KXL & KOIN AM/FM where the program originated.
On November 19, 1961 it was announced Bob Hazen was named Director In Charge of the Associate Membership Committee for the 1962 Rose Festival Association. On September 6, 1962 KGON carried the last Hazen program. The station had changed format to Rock & Roll. On April 11, 1963 it was announced Bob was Chairman of the Princess Selection Committee for the Rose Festival Association.
On February 26, 1964 it was announced Bob Hazen was Program Committee Chairman for the Rose Festival Association. By January 1965 Hazen was Chairman of the American Legion National Convention Corp. of Oregon. March 29, 1965 ad: “Now in its 16th Year, the bright and breezy music of The Bob Hazen Show becomes a new morning feature, 7:45 am, Monday thru Friday on KPAM & KPFM. Sponsored by the Benj. Franklin.” The show originated from KOIN AM/FM studios. KXL also carried the program into the early 1970’s.
On January 16, 1967 Bob Hazen was named President of the Portland Chamber of Commerce. In Spring 1967 KPAM/KPFM were changing format and Hazen’s show was dropped. In 1968 Bob & Phyllis Hazen divorced. On April 7, 1968 it was announced Bob Hazen would be the 1969 Chairman of the United Fund Drive. By July 1969 KXL was recording Hazen’s show from KOIN for broadcast at 8:15am.
On November 28, 1969, Robert Hamlin Hazen, 51, married 47 year old Roberta “Bobbie” Williams. On June 14, 1970 Bob Hazen & Blaine Hanks narrated the one hour KOIN-TV special “Rose Festival Highlights” which featured a review of the past week activities including the best of the Grand Floral Parade, 9:00pm. This presentation continued production each Rose Festival through 1974 on KOIN-TV.
On July 24, 1972 “The Bob Hazen Show” was heard KPOK at 8:10am, recorded from KOIN. On July 28, 1972 KOIN ran its last Hazen show. The station was changing its format. On July 31, 1972 Bob Hazen moved his show to KPOK live. On June 18, 1973 KPOK switched format and that spelled the end of Hazen’s radio program after 24 years.
On June 27, 1974 Bob Hazen was named 1975 President of the Portland Rose Festival Association. (Bob’s father was 1947 President). On November 13, 1975 Bob Hazen was elected President of the United States League of Savings Associations, in Miami. (Bob’s father was 1952 President). In a January 18, 1976 Oregonian article it mentioned: “Hazen lives to work. He has been called a workaholic by his associates, and Bob himself freely admits his one all-pervading interest is the Benj. Franklin.”
On April 16, 1977 Concordia College annual award banquet honored Bob Hazen as an outstanding citizen who contributed most to the enrichment of the community. On September 19, 1977 Bob’s mother Dana Hazen died at age 86 in Portland. By August 1978 Hazen was both President & Chairman of the Benj. Franklin. In February 1979 Bob Hazen was named President of United Way of The Columbia-Willamette.
On May 11, 1979 the Portland Advertising Federation’s creative awards banquet, Bob Hazen was honored for his civic involvement and contribution to the advertising industry. On November 7, 1979 Robert E. Downie was named President & Chief Operating Officer of the Benj. Franklin, succeeding Bob Hazen who continued as Chairman. Hazen commented years later: “I never fired anyone. If someone wasn’t working out, we found them another spot.” On January 1, 1983 Bob’s father Benjamin Hamlin Hazen died at age 92 in Portland.
On January 19, 1983 Myrl L. McKee succeeded Bob Hazen as Chairman of Benj. Franklin. Hazen continued as a Director from Palm Springs.
On February 21, 1990 the Federal Government declared the Benj. Franklin insolvent and seized the company, after it ruled that the Savings & Loan could no longer claim good will as an asset. On March 23, 1990 former board of directors of the Benj. Franklin filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court in Portland challenging the government takeover and asked that they be returned to the board.
On September 7, 1990 Bank of America swallowed up the Benj. Franklin in an acquisition which included 12 branch offices in Washington and 66 in Oregon. On September 14, 1990 shareholders in the former Benj. Franklin sent a lawsuit to Washington, D.C., in an attempt to recover money lost when federal authorities took over.
On October 1, 1990 retirement accounts of up to 1,000 former employees of the Benj. Franklin, including the account of retired Chairman, Bob Hazen, were temporarily frozen. Even Hazen was caught by surprise by the freeze. On July 19, 1991 Bob’s first wife Phyllis Thurston Gardner Hazen died of cancer in Portland at age 74.
On December 11, 1991 Hazen was on hand for the Franklin High School dedication of the 7,000-pound Benjamin Franklin sculpture. In 1975 Bob had paid $8,000 to sculptor Bart Kenworthy for a Franklin likeness fashioned from a 22-foot cedar log. When the government seized the Benj. Franklin, the building’s new owners didn’t fancy big Ben lording over their lobby. Hazen gave it to Franklin High School. At the time Bob estimated Ben’s value had risen to $100,000. In 1994 Bob’s sister Elizabeth M. “Betty” Hazen died at age 77 in Florida.
On December 23, 1997 a U.S. Court of Federal Claims judge struck down the government’s primary defenses and criticized its lawyers in a lengthy opinion of its action in dealing with the Benj. Franklin Federal Savings & Loan. In retirement Hazen took up needlepoint and golfed at the Waverley Country Club. In 2005 Bob & wife Bobbie moved to “Oatfield Estates” assisted living at 4444 S.E. Oatfield Hill Rd, in Milwaukie. On July 11, 2005, Bob’s wife Roberta “Bobbie” Hazen died at age 82 in Milwaukie.
On September 5, 2006 Bob Hazen passed away at age 88 in Milwaukie. A private family dinner was held to celebrate his life. On Radio & TV ads, Bob was the voice and the face of the Benj. Franklin. His signature tag line he coined “Pay yourself first at the Benj. Franklin.”
Bank President & media figure but much more. This remembrance from Dick Thompson:
“During World War II, I attended boot camp in Memphis, Tenn., and was very fortunate to have “Chief” Bob Hazen as my company commander. It is hard to describe the trauma of someone just turned 18 leaving home for the first time into a totally different and frightening environment.
During the war, boot camp was a “testing ground” to see how much stress a young person could tolerate, plus the miserable routine of numerous, quite often painful, shots, complete replacement of one’s teeth fillings and strenuous physical fitness routines. Some company commanders also were vocally abusive to test recruits’ nettle. Not so, Chief Hazen!
Although more than 60 years have passed since then, still vivid in my memory is this high-pitched voice echoing throughout the barracks at 3 a.m. on a nasty, rainy morning, bellowing, “OK, everyone, up and at ’em, we’re going to do a little exercise out on the apron in 5 minutes.”
He would then proceed to “lead the pack” in running around the camp for up to an hour at a time. He led us personally and kept an almost impossible pace. Physical fitness was his forte, and he pushed the importance of it every chance he had.
Needless to say, some of the recruits who were not in shape had a very difficult time, but we were all in much better condition after eight weeks than we had been all of our lives. To this day, I credit my good health to his leadership and influence on staying fit. We developed a great friendship.
There are very few people who left a more lasting impression on me of kindness and good sense than Bob Hazen. He will be missed.”
Special Thanks to Joel Miller who helped make this biography more complete.
References: The Oregon Journal, The Oregonian.
Photo courtesy of The Oregonian.March 21, 2015 at 12:57 am #8297
Another great job, Craig! This appears to be an update of your earlier Bob Hazen biography. It seems to me that the other one included the end of the KXL broadcast, which was not included here.March 22, 2015 at 12:37 am #8321
Yes, this is a complete rewrite of the earlier biography. Ran out of time researching it last year and wanted to post it on his birthday. This new bio is over twice as long and finishes the Benj. Franklin story. I wasn’t going to post it on pdxradio since as you mentioned, there is the earlier bio and I didn’t add anything more to the radio side (or take away). Then I received an E-Mail from Joel Miller wondering if I had forgotten to post it here. I’d been on the line to do this but got a great response on fb so I decided to post but a day later.March 27, 2015 at 3:37 pm #8637
That’s an amazing amount of history – most of it is stuff I hadn’t heard before.
I enjoyed going with my father to the KEX studios in Portland to do his radio shows – I didn’t know they were so popular.
An impressive piece of work and I appreciate it greatly. Thanks,
— Deck Hazen
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