Sylvan Durkheimer (1893-1984)

Sylvan Durkheimer was born March 14, 1893 in Burns, Oregon. Both of his grandfathers immigrated to the United States in their early teens to escape the military draft in Germany. His paternal grandfather, Kaufman Durkheimer, came to the US from Bavaria in 1839 and to Portland in 1865 by boat around South America. His maternal grandfather, Moses Fried, came to New York in 1831 and stayed for 25 years before coming to California via Panama in 1856, and settled in Portland in 1865. Sylvan’s father, Julius, worked in Baker City as a bookkeeper and night watchman and married Delia Fried in July 1889. Julius and his brothers, Moses and Sam, opened stores in Prairie City and Canyon City where gold rushes created booming business. Later Julius opened a store in the new settlement of Burns, where he also served as mayor, was on the school board and was a volunteer fireman. In 1896 the family moved to Portland. 

Sylvan grew up in Portland, living mostly on NW 24th and Lovejoy, then at the very edge of the city, attended Couch Grammar School, Oregon State University, and the Northwestern School of Law in Portland. He was admitted to the bar but never practiced, instead following his father into the business world. He served in the Navy during the First World War. Sylvan married Dorothy Lowenson shortly after the war, had three children, and after retirement served as president of Congregation Beth Israel, president of the Old People’s Home, and on the boards of several other Portland Jewish organizations.