In researching Cachot Therkelsen, who donated a collection of Emil Schacht drawings to the University of Oregon Design Library, I took a slight detour to find all I could about his father L.W. Therkelsen. I admire his commitment to serve on the Portland School Board and Water Commission as a volunteer. His wife was a doctor in San Francisco so it was a change in her life when she moved to Portland permanently, giving up her medical practice and starting a new career as a real estate investor, taking over for her husband.
L.W. Therkelsen 1842-1910
Lauritz Walsoe Therkelsen (L.W.) was born in Denmark in 1842, just east of Copenhagen. His educational opportunities were limited, and at an early age he learned the carpenter trade. He came to the United States when he was 18 years old and landed in San Francisco in 1861. After 10 years spent in contracting work in California, he came to Portland in 1873 and began advertising as a carpenter in the Oregonian newspaper almost daily. He soon gained a reputation as a builder. Among the buildings constructed by L.W. were: Trinity Church, the Bank of British Columbia, First National Bank, Bishop Scott Grammar School, United States Government building at Vancouver, woolen factory at Oregon City, Continental block and a part of the Union block, besides hundreds of residences.
In 1874, L.W. received a contract with the Water committee and was named to the Water Committee on which he served almost two decades. In 1875 he was elected the Vice-President of the Scandinavian Society and in 1877 he became a Harmony Masonic Lodge No. 12 officer.
By 1880 he was named to the Portland School Board on which he served for thirteen years. In April 1884 he was nominated and elected to the Oregon State House of Representatives.
In May 1886 he attended the organizing convention of lumbermen who could produce 350,000 feet of lumber per day and joined the permanent organizing committee that eventually formed the North Pacific Lumber Co. In December 1886 he was elected vice-president and manager of the North Pacific Lumber & Mfg. Co. In 1891, he made an extended trip to Europe with his family where he studied drying equipment. With the addition of the drying kilns, he advanced the company’s development rapidly, and under his direction grew it until it reached an average of $500,000 a year.
Besides his North Pacific Lumber Co. business and civic commitments, L.W. had other interests in which he was active. He invested heavily in real estate and listed himself as a landlord in the 1900 directory.
He and his first wife, Margaret (Maggie) Linden Griffin Therkelsen, had two children, Francis (Fannie) and Lawrence E. before her passing at the age of 41 while she was in San Diego, CA in 1892. Later that same year, L.W. then married Mary Agnes Cachot, physician, businesswoman, and later a suffragist, whom he had met while living in San Francisco. They had four children, Catherine, Cachot, Mary and Hazel.
The family had a cabin at Seaside and spent many summers there, being part of the social scene and getting listed in the Oregonian Society section many times. The second Mrs. L.W. entertained Mrs. Duniway at their cabin. In the August 9, 1896 Oregonian L.W. even made the Society page having a taffy pulling contest with Mr. Ed Sterns until 3:00 am. He was very competitive in the game of Whist and entered competitions as far away as Seattle. He competed in horse trotting races and later helped set up the Portland Auto Club, the Oregon Auto Club, and the first Auto Show with Will Lipman in 1909.
Mrs. L.W. Therkelsen joined him in driving cars and was listed in the Sept. 6, 1908 Oregonian under the headline of being an expert auto driver. L.W. passed away at the age of 68 on Nov. 16. 1910 after an illness. After his passing, Mrs. L.W. Therkelsen chaired the publicity department of the Oregon State Equal Suffrage Central Campaign Committee for the successful 1912 campaign, and was a board member of the Portland Equal Suffrage League and College Equal Suffrage League of Portland. She raised a lot of money for the suffrage cause with all her business connections. She had the honor of being on the first court jury of all women (that ended up in a hung jury). While she did not practice medicine in Portland, she was involved in enterprises that supported women and was a long-time member of the Portland Woman’s Club. Besides her civic duties, she was a businesswoman involved in real estate transactions. In later years she maintained the family estate and traveled with family members. She died in Portland in 1937.