Obituary: Leading Portland Philanthropist Arlene Schnitzer Dies, Aged 91

By Logan Martell

Portland-based arts philanthropist Arlene Schnitzer has passed away on April 4, 2020.

Born on January 10, 1929, Schnitzer grew up in a business setting as her parents were owners of a furniture store. At 20, Arlene married Harold Schnitzer of Schnitzer Steel Industries, who founded Harsch Investment Properties the following year.

Over the decades, the couple donated tens of millions of dollars to arts organizations and institutions in Portland, such as hospitals, museums, colleges, and more.

In 1984, Harold Schnitzer agreed to donate $1.7 million for the Oregon Symphony’s new performing arts center, in exchange for his wife’s name being put on it. This move inspired a wave of philanthropy in the region, as wealthy donors began to support a number of causes. In 1997, the couple founded the Harold & Arlene Schnitzer CARE Foundation, which has served as the main vehicle of their philanthropic efforts, being funded primarily by the $88 million sale of the Claremont Hotel.

In a social media post the Portland mourned the death of Schnitzer stating “Portland Opera mourns the loss of Arlene Schnitzer, dedicated philanthropist and supporter of the arts in Portland. Arlene truly valued the importance of a thriving arts ecology in our community. We extend our condolences and love to her family & friends.

With Schnitzer’s passing, the couple is survived by their son Jordan Schnitzer, and their four grandchildren: Arielle, Andria, Samuel, and Simon.