Howard Hugh Hedinger

February 16, 1935February 15, 2019

Howard Hugh Hedinger Feb. 16, 1935 - Feb. 15, 2019 Portland Businessman, Industrialist and Philanthropist, Howard Hugh Hedinger passed away Feb. 15, 2019, at the age 83. Born Feb. 16, 1935, and raised in the Alameda neighborhood of Portland Oregon, he was the son of Hugh Hedinger and Georgeina Hedinger. Howard attended Grant High School, Menlo Prep and The University of Oregon. Often referred to by many as "H," Howard was a Multnomah Athletic Club member for over 70 years. He was an award winning and nationally ranked swimmer. He was recognized locally and throughout the state for his records in both the 50 and 100 freestyle. He enjoyed many hours in the pool teaching his children and grandchildren how to swim. It was also at the MAC where he clean and pressed 100 lb. dumbbells - 24 times, as witnessed by Joe Loprenzi. Along with swimming, weights and boxing, Howard loved to spend many weekends waterskiing on Lake Oswego, Lake Shasta and the Willamette River with friends. You could often find him in one of his favorite spots, on the Oregon coast and spending time at his beach condo in Gearhardt, entertaining many family and friends. In 1955, after four years of service in the Air Force, Howard went on to pursue a highly successful career in the steel business. At the age of 22, Howard joined his father and began his career at American Steel. For more than 40 years, Howard was President and Chairman of the Board of American Steel and American Sheet Metal growing the business to be one of the largest steel service companies in the country. He operated always with the idea that a deal never needed more than a handshake. Howard always treated the guys at the bottom the same way as the guys at the top, he was widely respected and admired; maintaining many close relationships in the steel business for years. After the successful merger and sale of American Steel to Reliance Steel in 1996, Howard began a real estate and private equity investment company, American Industries. At that point, Howard launched his greatest passion, the Hedinger Family Foundation. Howard's greatest passion was most certainly in helping others. His vast philanthropic influence has benefited many throughout the state of Oregon and beyond. He was most committed and dedicated to helping the underserved communities, disadvantaged youth and animals. He was involved for several decades with OMSI, SEI, St. Mary's Home for the Boys, Dove Lewis, OHSU Knight Institute, Mercy Corps, The Pongo Fund, Providence, Guide Dogs for the Blind and many others. His dedication to these organizations had a profound effect on countless lives and left an indelible mark on the Portland non-profit community. He was extremely dedicated to giving back and supporting his community. He especially enjoyed his long relationship with the Catholic community including Central Catholic and his home church, the Madeleine Parish. Howard's love of music brought him great joy. He enjoyed sponsoring many musicians and attending concerts for many local talents. He was often spotted in the front row of these shows. In 1996, Howard opened the Wildwood Restaurant on N.W. 23rd. He enjoyed many years as the principal owner of this culinary groundbreaking Portland Restaurant. Many nights he would be spotted at the corner chair of the bar, greeting anyone and everyone that walked through the door. As with his support of the Wildwood, he loved supporting entrepreneurs. Howard was involved in another iconic Portland restaurant, Besaws. He was the first investor in Oregon's most successful ever gin, Aria. He also laid the groundwork for the growth of DAC International and was involved in several of major Real Estate projects that have helped shaped Portland's skyline. Finally, he was never a stranger to helping one of his small business tenants when times got tough. His greatest joy were his children and grandchildren. He is survived by his four children: Hillary Hedinger Guelfi (Mark); Blake Hedinger Bruun (Mark); Barkley H. Hedinger and Huston Hedinger (Natasha). Lovingly called Gopa, Poppy, and Gido, Howard had 14 grandchildren: Kelsie Clausen, Nicoletta Clausen, Mason Guelfi, Storm Guelfi; Halsten Bruun, Kingsley Bruun, Kyle Bruun; Hayden Hedinger, Booker Hedinger; Michaela Linton; Joey Hedinger, Leila Hedinger, Tariq Hedinger and Zayn Hedinger. Howard was predeceased by his sister, Barbara Hedinger Steinkamp. Howard had a lifelong love of dogs that began in his childhood and continued throughout his life. He was often heard to say: "I used to be a German Shepherd in my previous life!" His beloved companion, his Golden Retriever Hero, was at his side until the end. In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations in Howard's honor be made to St. Mary's Home for the Boys or Dove-Lewis Animal Hospital. The Hedinger Family Foundation will match all donations made in his honor. A funeral Mass will be celebrated at 1:30 p.m., Sunday, March 10, 2019, at the Madeleine Parish, 3240 N.E. 23rd Ave, Portland. Per Howard's wishes, a "wild" celebration will be held following the funeral Mass, at the Portland Art Museum.


  • Funeral Mass

    Sunday, March 10, 2019


Howard Hugh Hedinger

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David Bentley

December 11, 2020

Howard was always available for a quick chat when I ran into him out and about in Portland. I didn't know him real well like many, but Howard was known as a strong supporter of smaller local businesses in Portland. I really respect that greatly knowing the importance of having a strong local business economy. Thank you in behalf of many local businesses I know and love.

Peter Pendl

October 3, 2019

A generous and kind man always. Fond memories.

Nancy Reed

February 26, 2019

Some of my favorite memories of working were at American Steel in the days Howard and his pal, Milt Lampros, were operating the company. Howard had the foresight to purchase the first metal slitter, if memory serves, on the West Coast. It was a doozy, sliced coils of steel to whatever width and length needed to meet customers’ needs. There had been nothing like it. We were the best in the northwest and we weren’t going to let anything slow us down. Howard traditionally took a stroll through the office and shop daily, visiting as he went with everyone from the accountant to the sweeper. When there were managers’ meetings, they all came through the office and everyone knew their names - we were all introduced. Our women were some of the earliest to serve in sales positions in what was definitely a man’s world. I also learned about kindnesses of Howard and Milt from employees they helped in times of need. It was an exciting, fun time. We did not know about political correctness or company politics and, if someone had an idea, Howard and Milt’s doors were always open. At the end of each day, the smell of good cigars lingered in the hall. I still enjoy the smell of good cigars – a soothing effect on me that makes me smile. Those were the days… Howard spent a good part of his life giving people opportunities to improve their lives. We lost a noble man and we’ll miss him.

Bill Gutierrez

February 24, 2019

I really enjoyed working for Mr. Hedinger. Howard would periodically visit the Oakland Plant and he acted just like one of the guys.

So sorry to hear of his passing...,

Kerrie Fewel

February 21, 2019

Howard introduced me to a new band to Portland. Howard was very kind and friendly. When we moved down the street from Howard, he made sure we were comfortable and happy.

Cheryl Tuller

February 17, 2019

Howard was a true gentleman and cared more for children and animals than anyone I have ever known. His legacy will live on and when people talk about him, his loving heart will be remembered the most. Safe travels to you dear man, yours was a life well lived and we are so proud to call you friend.