William Lawrence Dehen
May 17, 1922 - October 1, 2013
"Bill," as friends and family knew him, was the type of man you hope to be. The son of German immigrants, Bill was born on the living room floor of their home in east Portland. He grew up during the years of the Great Depression; for Bill Dehen, life was full of opportunity, not guarantees.
After Pearl Harbor, Bill joined the US Navy and served as a torpedo man 2nd class in the Pacific theater. The war informed Bill's perspective on life in a very profound way. After the Peace he started work at the family business, Dehen Knitting Company. In July of 1948 he married the love of his life, Lou Ann; they celebrating 65 years of marriage in the summer of 2013.
Dehen was a family business, and that concept of family influenced the way Bill treated the more than 100 employees that worked for him. Customers and employees alike believed in the product, yes, but they also believed in the man. The honesty, humility, and dedication that were the hallmarks of Bill's life were apparent in every aspect of Dehen's business. Bill worked for and ran the company across five decades, and even in retirement, remained a trusted source of shrewd advice and honest perspective. Bill alway said, "If it's worth doing, it's worth doing well."
He wouldn't call himself a businessman. Bill was a family man who used business as a way to provide, support, and teach. Bill is remembered as a man of integrity and honor, and as a man who served. He served his country, his employees, his customers, his children and grandchildren, and above all, his beloved wife Lou Ann. He wasn't out to make money; he was out to make a life for himself and his family. It just so happened that, along the way, he made some damn fine sweaters.